Maintaining Crew Morale and High Spirits

Sun 7 Dec 2008 18:50


Position 15:25.422N 043:22.900W



The smell of pancakes heralds Sunday. The time has flown by since this day last week when we last ate Ursulas treats and spotted our one and only sperm whale. Self sufficient lifestyle is working well, carrying our own water, provisions, and generating our own power. All our planning is paying off. Our contraptions ease the daily chores. Our washing machine for example is currently rinse cycle, my underpants and tee shirts are being towed through the Atlantic at 6.3 knots. They should ride it out quite easily as the underpants, at least, are accustomed to much higher wind speeds.


Ironically the most indispensable item is the sacrificial crew member. While replacing our anodes in Las Palmas (sacrificial zinc plates that bear the brunt of electrolysis and waste away thus saving propellers etc) I had the idea that a sacrificial crew member would be helpful in maintaining high morale and good humour among the crew. I posted an ad on the notice board in the marina a few days before departure, which read:


Smart Crew Wanted (not too smart)


We had some interesting replies but settled on a young lady from Belgium by the name of Ann Node. Being close to  triangular in shape, she fits neatly into our last remaining bunk, she is waterproof and can thus steer through all squalls, and with a passion for waltzing she moves gracefully up and down the cabin in swell.

Her main duties on board are to bear the brunt of all slander, the blame for all errors and the glare for all odours. It has worked out tremendously well and the rest of the crew are always in top form, good humoured and ready to shoot blame from the hip, hitting the big half of our three sided target with ease.


There once was a girl called Ann Node

Across the Atlantic she rode

waltzing under the main

she steered in the rain

And of jokes and blame bore the load


We slowed to 3.6 knots this morning, a good opportunity to have a look at the prop. Hove to, I went down with mask and snorkel and with relative ease and a sharp knife was able to cut away the fouled netting. This hopefully will allow the prop to run more efficiently when motoring and to fold away under sail. We all seized the chance for a swim. Laying out two fenders astern with safety lines and always leaving one person aboard we were able to dive into the warm water (26.1˚). Blue and clear like a dream and 5,000m deep, a mid Atlantic swim is an unforgettable experience.


Now under sail again to windward in north westerlies we are making 6-6.5 knots, and accompanied by two pilot fish, a tuna shoal having left us behind. The sky above us is clear and we have lanes of low lying cloud. In trade winds these lanes between the cloud offer the most wind. Our wind is in the wrong direction but with these flat calm seas we are able to make course for St. Lucia directly and comfortably knocking the miles down and the degrees of longitude up, now at 43˚ our destination is 60˚, each degree representing 60 miles at the equator and slightly less at this latitude.


Despite the late morning Sunday pancakes, the smell of fresh brown bread is making us all hungry for Sunday Lunch. The swim has certainly affected our appetites, and our spirits, while high before, have now been raised by the depths.