Mon 28 May 2012 15:30
Today is Day Seventeen of the crossing. We’re currently approximately 450 miles west of the island of Flores, our destination, which is the most westerly of the islands in the Azores.
We’re continuing to make excellent progress, although not always in the right direction. This morning, due to the wind being in the west, we are heading more towards Greenland than the Azores. We’ve got wind speeds of 35+ knots so have two reefs in the mainsail and a much-reduced genoa. However, we are still a degree or so south of Flores, so are likely to continue north for a while longer. If the wind stays in the west, we will tack off and go south for a while, then tack towards Flores along a corridor of narrowing width as we approach the island. However, hopefully, the wind will go south and we will then have the sailor’s dream of an easy beam reach all the way to the Azores. With a fair (but not too much) wind and a bit of luck, we’ll be in the Azores by Friday.
Life on board follows a now well-established rhythm. We are each on watch for three hours, then off watch for six hours. On a small boat like ‘Annie’, with a crew of only three, that means we spend a lot of time on our own in the cockpit as the other two sleep. This provides plenty of time for contemplation, as well as plenty of time to wonder at the immensity of the ocean. For days on end we see no-one else. If we were to go to the horizon beyond the horizon, it would be the same. At night, if there is little or no cloud, the stars are amazing, billions and billions of them. The Plough is the most obvious of the constellations and is the one I always look for first to get my bearings, pointing as it does to the Pole Star and, my personal favourite, for obvious reasons, the ‘W’ constellation of Cassiopeia.
Food is a major preoccupation. Not so much the absence of it (although we have used up all of our fresh supplies apart from one onion, a few heads of garlic, some ginger and two lemons), but more for the creative possibilities it presents given the range of tins we have on board. Last night I prepared my signature dish, sag gosht (lamb curry with spinach), which was delicious. ‘Prepared’ is, however, overstating it, as the meal consisted largely of a tin of M+S Hot Lamb Curry and a tin of spinach. However, a fried onion, some garlic and fresh ginger with a couple of tablespoonsfuls of Patak’s Madras curry paste greatly enhanced the flavour. Try it !! Sadly, we had no chilled Cobra or Kingfisher beers to wash it down with nor, indeed, chilled beers of any description, since we have not had a fridge since a few days before we left Antigua.
We are now in the habit of having drinks before dinner, usually at about 6.00pm. Up to yesterday, we had peanuts with our drinks. These have now all been eaten, so we are reduced to Pringles, although we also have some dried plantain snacks on board as well. After dinner, which sadly is no longer accompanied by wine, since we have drunk it all, Peter and I take black coffee. All three of us have some dark chocolate and a ‘wee dram’ to set us up for the night ahead. We are currently working our way through the Glenlivet. In addition, we have Highland Park and Jura, as well as a reasonable quantity of rum, so one way or another, we’ll be alright.
Our avid reading continues. All three of us having read Beryl Bainbridge’s ‘Every Man for Himself’, a fictional account of the last days of the ‘Titanic’ (we are now, by the way, north of the southern recorded limit of icebergs), Peter has just finished Beowulf, Graham is reading a tome-like history of Europe since World War Two (which raises our centre of gravity considerably every time he brings it on deck) and I am greatly enjoying the massively entertaining, hilarious, reckless adventures of Don Quixote and his loyal servant, Sancho Panza. I have now read over 700 pages. Less than 250 pages still to go ! I must finish it before we get to the Azores.
(Since writing the above earlier today, all three of us were drenched by a rogue wave as we had lunch in the cockpit, which made our Ryvitas and pate extremely soggy. Peter then produced teas and coffees inadvertently made with sea water. A novel idea but one which is not likely to catch on !)
Best wishes to you all from the three of us. We’re having a lot of fun and we hope that you are, too, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing !!