half way across the Atlantic

Tue 4 Dec 2007 18:04

18:15N 40:52W


It’s amazing how busy (and tired) you can get sitting around all day on a boat. So busy, in fact, that it has taken 4 days to update our blog since the last posting ….

A bit about tactics …

For fans of Blackadder, you’ll recall that Baldrick usually had a “cunning plan” in any difficult situation. Usually it involved eating mud or making coffee with, well, mud, but the general pattern was that the whatever the plan, you could guarantee that it was ludicrously stupid and greeted with ridicule. And that’s pretty much how Nishi reacted when he heard Syd’s tactics. He’s now sitting in a corner of the boat eating humble pie (hmm, tasty with sour cream) because, in a nutshell, the tactics have been spot on and executed to near perfection.


So what is this grand plan? Well … we’re not telling. Not until we’re over the finish line anyway. And no, this isn’t just a cheap way of avoiding the question so that we can retrospectively change the plan to reflect what actually happened – we just don’t want to give any tips to the opposition.


Saturday 1st December 2007 – 24 shopping days to Christmas

We passed a major milestone today – we passed the 1000 nautical mile mark! Nishi suggested we celebrate with a wee drinkee. What we had was a cup of tea – how very understatedly British.


After a lazy Friday, we had energy to burn. Syd had conveniently arranged with the gods for the weather to be temperamental to give us something to do. I can’t go into too much detail about  the various sail combinations we used, or why, but in summary: (i) we tried using another sail; (ii) we tried swapping all the sails over to the opposite side of the boat; (iii) we swapped them back again; (iv) we took down the additional sail (so that we were back where we started); (v) we changed the set up of the sails so that they were all to one side of the boat; and finally (vi) we stuck another sail up (again).


It can be a bit frightening out on deck when the sails are flapping around and the loose ropes are whipping through the air, but Syd guided us through it masterfully. The upshot is that Nishi and Annabel are more comfortable handling the sail changes quickly and with minimal guidance, and they got a decent work out!


In between all that, were suspicious of a mutiny on board. As mentioned previously, the water maker and one of the toilets have already been acting up. It seems that they have persuaded the generator (one of the more important and influential pieces of machinery on board) to join their little union. Allegations that the generator has gone mad and has a screw loose have, quite literally, been proved to be correct. We shall have to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t step out of line again.


Getting the generator running allowed us to warm up enough water for the showers. Following Annabel’s brave encounter with the shower a few days ago, all members of crew have had a mandatory wash. The “aroma” on board has improved noticeably. Sadly, Annabel then had an unplanned shower when it rained during her night shift.


After over a week of sailing, we finally made verbal contact with the outside world! Syd made radio contact with a boat sitting on the horizon to our port (or left) side. Turns out they were also Arcists. Syd and the American skipper of the other boat exchanged travel tips -  expect to see postings from Brazil in the near future.,,


By the way, the answer to Friday’s mystery meat question was …… chicken. Or it might have been turkey. But we think it was probably chicken. But it might have been turkey.


Key facts:

Position (at 1200 GMT/UTC) – 22.18n 32.20w

Distance travelled (in 24 hrs to 1200 GMT/UTC) – 190 nautical miles

Total distance travelled - 1021 nautical miles

Dinner – Syd’s chicken curry (comprising leftover curry from the other night and fresh curry)

Nishi’s beard growth – Phil Mitchell (“Leave it! It’s faaamly”)


Sunday 2nd December 2007

The milestones just keep on coming. Syd (a little emotional with happiness) announced this afternoon that he had just broken his personal record for time at sea without landfall – exactly 7 days. Good on you Syd – it’s been a long time coming! Nishi suggested we celebrate with a wee drinkee. What we had was another cup of tea!


After yesterday’s fun and games, we had another lazy day.


Syd decided to quash any mutiny amongst the onboard equipment by tackling the water maker. Syd won this round, but not without a (very comical – sorry Syd, but it was) fight. The water maker is in a cupboard behind two doors – one opening outwards to the left and one opening outwards to the right. Every time Syd stuck his head in the cupboard, the boat would mysteriously rock causing one door to slam open and the other to shut (on Syd’s head!), and then vice versa. This went on for about 5 minutes, before Syd lost his temper and tried to tie the doors back. Only some how he managed to tie himself into a corner so he couldn’t access the water maker! The whole scene was very Frank Spencer. Syd has promised to tackle the generator wearing a rain-coat, beret and roller-skates.


However, we think we might also have gremlins on board. Over the last few days a number of shackles holding various pulleys, ropes and wires have mysteriously worked themselves loose. Once or twice wouldn’t be unusual, but for so many to go wrong at once is just bonkers. It is either a huge coincidence, or someone is making mischief. Nishi has been round and tightened all the shackles and bolts on deck and is now on 24 hour gremlin watch.


Surprisingly, we haven‘t seen much in the way of sea life, but we have seen a few birds. Annabel has identified them as “tropicbirds”. We’re hoping that the presence of birds indicates that there may be fish about. The problem then is trying to catch one – no joy so far.


Key facts:

Position (at 1200 GMT/UTC) – 21.15n 35.24w

Distance travelled (in 24 hrs to 1200 GMT/UTC) – 184 nautical miles

Total distance travelled - 1205 nautical miles

Dinner – Annabel’s shepherd’s pie (the closest we could get to a Sunday roast)

Nishi’s beard growth – “Big Issue ….”


Monday 3rd December 2007

Yet another milestone bites the dust – we have passed the half way point between Gran Canaria and St Lucia! Nishi suggested we celebrate with a wee drinkee. What we had was yet another cup of tea!


After putting the water maker to rights yesterday, Syd decided to show the engine who’s boss. The water maker must have been talking to the engine, because Syd’s head took another beating. Fortunately, he spotted the problem pretty quickly – an electrical connection had broken. Ever the practical engineer, Syd found a simple solution – solder the two ends together and wrap with as much electrical tape as possible.


Aside from that, another quiet day. . The “on shift” duties (such as steering, trimming the sails etc) have become second nature now, so it feels like we’re not actually doing very much. We put the clocks back another hour (so that sunrise and sunset are at reasonable times) and the shift system has become almost automatic. The weather has improved, so its shorts and t-shirts during the day with trousers, t-shirt and either a light waterproof or fleece at night.  


Key facts:

Position (at 1200 GMT/UTC) – 20.01n 38.15w

Distance travelled (in 24 hrs to 1200 GMT/UTC) – 177 nautical miles

Total distance travelled - 1382 nautical miles

Dinner – supposedly Spanish omelette (with Spanish eggs, veg and potatoes and sausages), smothered in tomato sauce (as not mentioned before, our special stash of fresh tomatoes hadn’t survived a week in the ‘cellar’ under some floorboards and were pretty furry/liquid)

Nishi’s beard growth – Congratulations, Mr Tailor – it’s a healthy baby beard

Random comment of the day – “Get in … it’s spitting!” - Syd


Tuesday 4th December 2007 (mid afternoon)

We had a fairly relaxing start to the day – the sails are already set and we are heading in the direction that we want to go. The wind has dropped a bit in the last 24 hours (so our total miles per day has dropped a bit) but we expected that – it was all part of the plan (honest – it was!).


Nishi speculated that if a butterfly beat its wings in central Africa then, according to chaos theory, we should have enough wind to blow us to St Lucia. Bizarrely, a few minutes later, we were joined on board … by a moth! What are the chances of that happening!? We’ve taken this as a good omen. 


Key facts:

Position (at 1200 GMT/UTC) –18.33n 40.29w

Distance travelled (in 24 hrs to 1200 GMT/UTC) – 157 nautical miles

Total distance travelled - 1539 nautical miles

Dinner – (planned) Syd’s Moroccan lamb

Nishi’s beard growth – Physics teacher

Random comment of the day – “A peanut butter and jam sandwich on brown bread is much healthier than a Snickers” - Annabel