Fai Tira Blog 16.00
UTC Wednesday 2nd
Tira in the Atlantic getting closer to Antigua . 17:46.39N
Even though it’s been
three days since we’ve passed through, what for us is another time zone, the
long day still takes its’ toll, making the first watch particularly arduous, bed
being a further two hours away. Since we re-arranged our schedules, my stint has
remained 2am till 7am. Although the adjustment still takes time, the effect
isn’t quite so bad for me; and even though it still catches me out, I have also
have an additional bonus of the Eastern sky starting to lighten at around 4. 30
At 7.30 the sun is
already high enough to omit a burning heat that, even then, has me looking
around for shelter.
I was joined, on my early
morning stroll and chafe check on the fore deck, by a black and white gannet.
Funny how after a long period lacking in visual variety, any different sign of
life takes on a new importance that quickly gets latched on to. I was treated to
a graceful aerial display as it swooped over the bow eyeing me up. Before
folding its’ wings and with an audible splash, it hit the sea like a dart only
feet away. Its’ emergence was effortless and it disappeared, into the distance,
with what was undoubtedly just one of its’ breakfast
The chafe check was
mostly ok, but aside from the already patched up areas, some of the seams, on
the genoa look like they’re struggling a bit and will have to be added to the
already growing list of repairs for Antigua.
I’ve just made a first
entry into a book Dee gave me for the journey, called The Cloud Collector’s
Handbook. It’s a book identifying clouds and formations, with photos’ and text.
And then as an added interest, and a bit of fun, it requests that you fill in a
chart as a record of what you’ve seen. It then awards points and bonuses
dependent on your response. The sunrise had been spectacular with shafts of
light creeping round the sides of the clouds and bouncing off the water. The sky
reminded me of that old adage, red sky in the morning Sheppard’s warning
(although I soon dismissed this as non-applicable. Not too many Sheppard’s and
even fewer sheep out here)
Reference to the book
confirmed that the brilliant formation above my head and stretching back for
miles, was altocumulus. The book awards 30 points with a possible 15 bonus
points for identification. It then asks that you record date, time, weather
conditions and yes, location. Imagine the smug grin creping across my face as I
scribbled in, 6 am, Yacht somewhere in mid Atlantic.
15 bonus points? surely
can’t be enough!!
Pete had reported, during
last nights’ changeover brief, that problems with the staysail furling had
prevented its’ use. So the first task to-day took little identification. The
problem seemed initially to be sticky, as it seemed well and truly jammed.
However we managed to unfurl it, drop the halyard and gained access to the
bearing housing. Of course everything spun freely. We eased it with dry
lubricant, hoisted it back and it worked perfectly. Boats can be so
The day remained hot and
we sailed for the most part. The general sameness, is having the effect of
merging one day with another. To-day I read a book, slept, did the roll call,
read a book, dropped sail, drank a beer, carried out an engine check, slept and,
oh yes, read a book!! Occasionally something might be substituted like baking
bread or cleaning. Easy to get complacent, but as this is still mid Atlantic,
Still best not to!!.
The moonlit nights are
difficult to ignore. They are just so bright. Pete’s selection of poetry, as a
means of illustration was very appt. There has to be times in the UK, I’m sure,
when they may well be that impressive, but it’s nearly always on a cold mid
winter night in a suburban setting. This is warm with the backdrop of a massive
sea and huge sky amidst total tranquillity. That’s when dramatic turns to
It’s difficult, with our
disruptive watch, to maintain continuous sleep. The sounds and movement of the
boat coupled with the change in my body weight, had indicated that the wind had
got up and there was some action happening out there, all heralded by the now
familiar judder as the boat accelerated.
I was awake now. However
in spite of being hit by a surprise squall, that disconnected one of the
adjustable pole support guys, sending it sideways and the boat in the wrong
direction, Pete said he was ok.
So again the next day saw
another early start to recover the offending item. Once back in position and the
sails functioning we were off, but only making 4 knots. So in attempt to
maintain our pole ish position, we thought it a good time to play at being
proper sailors. We assessed the days sail plan dropped everything we’d just put
up, dragged out and hoisted the cruising chute. And 11/2 hours later, still
before 8.30am and exhausted, we sat back and looked at the speed
indicator.......4 knots Great this
The evening saw us
relaxing and having a snack before our meal. The moon was already high and
playing with the clouds. Our conversation had drifted into a deep and meaningful
area and we were very relaxed. I happened to glance skywards above Pete’s left
shoulder and gave out a gasp. There massive in the sky, in startling reality,
formed by the effect of reflected moonlight on the clouds, was a clear, sharp,
unmistakable and exact reproduction of the typical biblical image of Jesus
Christ. It lasted about 15 seconds, too quick to photograph, but plenty long
enough for Pete to look and concur.
The explanations are
obviously simple, but for me the impact was huge.
So there we are
Heard disconnected voices
on board, had a phantom tap on the shoulder, had a midnight slap in the face by
a wet fish and now seen god in the sky.
Bye for now.