12th Dec 2006

Tue 12 Dec 2006 13:33
Noon position: 16,11N, 46,00W
24 hour run: 99 n miles
Revised ETA: 0600 19th Dec
Hot and rather windless as we write, it's going to be a difficult i.e. frustrating two or three days ahead, hoping for some new wind.
We do of course have an engine, but fuel for only 48 hours. A little of this has been used already for battery charging, but this morning we are using the engine both for charging and propulsion, as there is not enough windspeed to activate our towed generator, and two hours equals about 10 miles. In two hours we can cool down the fridge on its maximum setting, make our daily water and use the computer. Pretty well everything else can then be turned off for 22 hours except our navigation lights at night (low consumption LED's) and cabin lights. We are allowed to 'cheat' like this, in a sailing race, as when we finish everyone pays penalty time for the amount of engine time they have used.
We have finally bloodied our fishing gear, and caught a three foot long dorado yesterday evening. It was quite a mess and tangle, and Geoff who doesn't much like this sort of thing was a star with the landing net. As I am the only fish eater it didn't take long to take the fillets I wanted, and the rest I regret was sent back overboard. Absolutely delicious: a bit like trout, quite meaty, but not as meaty as tuna. The dorado is a funny shape with a big head, but most exquisite colouring: green and yellow. Grilled and then cooked up a bit with coconut milk and lime juice, Vicky's recepie, good good! Later discovered that I broke the fishing rod: they are all made of carbon fibre these days, very strong when used properly, but given to breakage if banged against something. There was plenty of banging for a few minutes last night. I made my own lure, after we had worked out that the dorado were after the flying fish. I used strips of blue and white latex from surgical gloves tied round the hook, and painted a red and black eye with indellible markers. I didn't use any weights at all, and the lure pulled in and out of the waves about 100 yards behind the boat (RHH: I have receipts for the gloves: they are very usefull on board!!).
The anaesthetist adds; I'm not a fishy person and certainly would never have eaten anything bright green.  Seeing RJB gut and fillet this poor thing whilst it was still twitching brought on a feeling of deja vu.  Don't think I have had to give three doses of anaesthetic to anyone for a while (three blows with the proverbial...).  Anyway, I was quite happy for Richard to claim the anaesthetic fee as well as the surgeon's (must be a BUPA code for evisceration) and thus was happy not moving the light for him.  Estimated blood loss 100mls, so the cockpit smelt of disinfectant while the cabin reeked of fish still.  He then threw 80% back overboard, if Neptune exists He must have our cards marked now.  (Had rice and vegatables for my supper but even they tasted funny.) Spent the evening looking out for unlit whales and other hazards.
Saw another yacht yesterday, moving behind and then south of us: he was either much bigger that us, or was motoring. Learned from the daily bulletin that Arnolf with her broken rudder has been abandoned. That boat has a deep unsupported rudder: the experts say that this type is easily damaged if you run over a whale, but I'm not so sure: our theory is that like cows in a field these creatures like to find something to scratch between their shoulder blades, there being no tree branches at sea, these so called spade rudders are the thing! (We did discuss if turning the engine on when we saw a whale was a good idea or if it might just piss them off more, but agreed the back-scratching theory seemed most plausible after a G&T)  Either way our rudder is supported top and bottom, a comfort with several steering problems reported both this year and last.
Well, I bet you are all feeling very sorry for us becalmed under a cloudless sky not far from the equator, and with only a large number of cans of the amber nectar for company. If sober we will report again tomorrw.
Richard and Geoff.