Day 13: Winners and losers

Graham Shaw
Fri 23 Jan 2009 15:48
13:27.60N 57:57.50W

Hello all,

We have each made a prediction for our ETA in Bridgetown, Barbados but they
are being kept sealed in an envelope until we arrive. The person whose
prediction is closest to the actual time we tie up alongside the customs
dock will get a free slap-up meal on our first night ashore. This has
prompted a slight sense of competitiveness amongst us but I think there is
also a lot of bluff and double-bluff amongst the crew. Any mention of
shaking out a reef immediately prompts a response from Lorraine like "oh, is
our speed a little low for your ETA?", she is sure I have predicted a time
on Friday night, maybe I have, maybe I haven't. Only time will tell...

None of you will be surprised to know that Lorraine is the true master of
this ship. I am sat here in the greenhouse of the cabin with her telling me
what to write from the breeze cooled luxury of the cockpit. I am instructed
to mention that Lorraine is the person who has seen the most dolphins on
this trip, perhaps she just spends more time gazing out to see rather
looking where we are going!

The wind hasn't been playing ball recently, although it has reduced enough
for us to carry full sail most of the time, its direction has not changed as
predicted. This means that yet again we can't sail directly towards our
destination (the southern tip of Barbados) but instead need to gybe
(zig-zag) downwind. Us sailors (well, me in particular) are very rarely
happy with our lot, so despite a gentle breeze, clear blue skies, good
progress, plenty of water & food and lovely smooth downwind sailing, we ask
for a 20 degree anti-clockwise change in wind direction. Anyway, we have
just broken the 100 miles to the waypoint mark which is about 19 hours at
our current rate. From the southern tip its just 10 short miles to the
prospect of dry land in Bridgetown. Most of the conversation onboard is now
about what we will do when on dry land. I recently suggested that rather
than stopping at Barbados we continued on the 140 miles to Grenada, I can't
publish the response I got!

Shipping activity has increased, if you call seeing a single ship more
activity and yes it was on Lorraine's watch - what a master mariner she has
become! Flying fish activity has also increased and on two consecutive
nights have had them glide between us stood in the cockpit, there is usually
evidence of the less successful ones lying dried out on the deck each
morning. None have made it to the frying pan or should that be flying pan?
Disappointingly our fishing has not produced any results - well apart from
the one that got away which must have been huge as when we brought in the
line one evening there was no lure left on the end! We all agree that this
lack of success is down to our impressive boat speed rather than lack of
fishing skills, after all we have even resorted to oiling the lure with the
contents of a recently stranded flying fish, but still no luck.

Well, Lorraine has run out of things for me to say so I can now say thank
you for all the kind emails we have received about my celestial navigation
lesson. Apparently I could make a very good career from writing bedtime
books for insomniacs! Actually, thank you for all the emails we have been
receiving, it's great to hear from you all and particularly to be reminded
how cold and horrible it is back home.

Better go now as I need to slap on the factor 20 and plug in my iPod before
my watch starts - I just wish I had loaded more songs on it before leaving
as I now know the words to all 152 songs on it, but it still beats
Lorraine's collection of Tina Turner and Duran Duran!!