Tira Blog Friday 16th April
Tira anchored at Fatu Hiva 10:27.87S
winds remain light and the spinnaker remains flying. If things stay the same,
and the forecasts predict that they will, we may end up with the dubious
distinction of being one of the boats, I’d guess, to make the 3000 mile passage,
across the Pacific, without encountering any winds above 20 knots, indeed for
most of the time they’ve barley reached 15.
the last few days’ sailing, when the winds have almost disappeared altogether,
has also had the effect of at least provided some benefits. We now all feel more
comfortable and confident with, what for us was, the once notorious spinnaker.
During our previous experiences, we’d encountered problems with its deployment,
retrieval and execution, the snuffer proving particularly difficult to operate,
in other words we didn’t really have much of a clue. However our new found
confidence, brought about by enforced experience, resulted in a 72 hour period
of continuous use, at one time it almost felt like we were going for an entry in
the Guiness book of records.
also provided a fascinating new source of entertainment. The sails’ imposing
size has always looked impressive as it billows out in front of the boat, but at
night under the gaze of the lights and performing on a stage that’s the deck of
the boat, it undergoes another transformation. It’s then that it takes on
gliding, graceful and sometimes gyrating shapes reminiscent of a ballet dancer,
with the wind causing inflation and deflation that revealed the stitched panels
twisting to form patterns across the vast expanse of white, then often
resonating with loud cracks as it
snaps back into shape.
also at time like these that you tend to become acutely aware of your reliance
on diesel power. For the most part the power lump just sits there unseen and
jumps into life at the turn of a switch. Our recent demands had been heavy and
she’d started to display a noticeable reluctance to fire up, demanding an open
throttle first. I was aware that the usual pre-start checks had lapsed a bit.
They’re nothing too dramatic, but need to be done. As soon as these were
completed and at the first time of asking she fired immediately without
hesitation. Magic. Think, really, that she just needed a kind word, a bit of
caressing and a show of appreciation!!........Think that I might be beginning to
also makes you very much aware of the other engines operating on board and how
easy it is to become complacent. The sails are enormously powerful and sometimes
unpredictable drivers that give no quarter. The deck is their engine room and
the crew often find themselves scurrying around in their domain under, what are
often, quite difficult conditions with all the working parts within inches and
unprotected. It doesn’t take much to realise that it’s as well to be aware that
all the engines on board, including the human ones, can turn round and bite if
not treated with respect!!
Tuesday my watch finished at 6 am and light was just starting to break. The dawn
was cloudless and before long, even at this early hour, direct sunlight was
burning hot. The day turned out to be rather uninspiring, but at least the wind
got up and we benefited from the slight adjustments from the night before when
we moved the pole across to windward, while at the same time repairing the
damage, caused by chafing, to the starboard sheet. For most of the day we
managed about 5 knots, but still our 24 hour distance was only 110
day was notable for cleaning the cockpit, me repairing my ancient Tivas and a
successful attempt at making popcorn. And this was one of the more exciting
days!!! There was even a sense of exhilaration when we spotted a flock of birds
and I felt a sense of envy at the revelation that both Pete and David had seen a
ship in the night. I’ve seen nothing for best part of three weeks
arrival for the midnight watch was greeted by a decrease in the wind. Even with
the benefit of a 3/4 knot current we were barely able to hold 4 knots, testing
my resolve not to fire up the engine. The direction was ok , but difficult to
hold when the winds really dropped.
parked myself in the normal position, back facing south. Familiarised myself
with the instrument readings, waited for my senses to adjust whilst at the same
time easing myself up to look over my left shoulder and see that the southern cross was now standing on its’
head. I managed to identify the bright southerly pointing stars of Hadar and
Canopus and the silence of the night was only interrupted by the cavorting
immediately my mind engaged neutral and drifted, its’ direction indeterminate
and destination unknown...... Didn’t last long though. What little wind there
was died, and my hand reluctantly reached for the ignition key. The peace was
broken and the once graceful sail was now in an agitated state and demanding
attention. With my mind now firmly back in the real world escapism would just
have to wait.
main feature of the past few days has been the almost total absence of any
appreciable wind although the direction remains constant. The knock on effect
has been a significant increase in both day and night time temperatures. A sail
plan that’s seen almost continual use of the spinnaker and the psychologically
negative effect of being so near yet so far, I think we’re all beginning to
think that we’ve been out here for long enough now.
about 10pm on Tuesday we finally snuffed the spinnaker, secured her for the
night and relied on diesel power. The wind picked up in the early hours of
Petes’ watch. I was up a bit early and at day break the spinnaker was up and
flying again, propelling us at a healthy 6 ½ - 7 knots. Great but just it just
has the effect of compounding our problem about arriving in the
quick culinary up-date..... Made some more bread. It tasted ok, but refused to
rise and texture was rubbish. I blame the yeast, just can’t get the quality now
days!!!. Made loads of brilliant porridge. Had another successful attempt at
soda bread and made another spicy Ruby (sorry about the cockney, must go and
watch an episode of Only fools and Horses as an antidote)
clocks moved back 1 ½ hours on Wednesday. It was 6am on Thursday, the end of my
watch and the sun was already high. It felt like I was going to bed in the
middle of the day. I was woken, at 7.30am, from a fitful sleep by a broad shaft
of sunlight. As it danced around with the motion of the boat, it illuminated the
dark wood panel opposite igniting the colours of the Molar hanging there.
Occasionally it drifted across my outstretched feet. The affect of the heat was
think it might be another hot one!!!
and Petes’ just spotted Fatu Hiva........After a bumpy night waiting for dawn to
brake we eventually arrived at the Bay of Virgins at 8.00am local time. The bay is stunning and we will be
posting so photo’s later when we get onto a Wi Fi
Bye for now Pete,
John and David.