Day 18 – Thursday, 21 December 2006
This computer may not survive the trip the way it is going.
I left the engine on for 4 hours and charged everything up and ran the water maker. I made 5 litres in 15 minutes, which is 20 litres an hour, which seems good. I mopped out all the bilges and am now convinced that all the water is from the transom and the diesel that was around was just washed down from the locker by the water. I had a shower and did the small amount of washing. I made pancakes and had some with lemon and some with cinnamon. Then all I was going to do was to rest in the cockpit and listen to music, as I had charged up my MP3 player.
At 3:41 I spotted something that I thought looked really amazing, like a floating chinese restaurant coming towards me – and me with the washing out. It turned out to be a rusty tanker and that told me how tired I was. Also watching the bow wave reminded me how fast they travel. It is presumably on the St Lucia to Freetown route, two boats in 24 hours These boats must have come from somewhere, so I must be headed towards somewhere.
Perhaps it was the excitement about the boat, but I had to correct the boat heading and could not work out which side to go. I needed to go dead downwind and one side would be marginally better than the other, but with me changing the ropes and Horatio still on the other tack I got nowhere. Deep breath, about 4th attempt, maybe more, I managed it. I am so tired. All I was going to do was listen to music until at least 6pm. But DG was standing there with his head hanging unsupported 3 metres up in the air. Not only was this too much to bear to watch, it was also unsafe if the wind picked up it could cause real damage. With MP3 in my mouth, to keep both hands free, I climbed up and managed bit by bit it take the attachment off, then the head and let the arm down. I took the arm right down to under the bracket which I don t normally as I have a real job getting it back up, but it is now safe and tied up. I cannot find the white tube that links the head to the arm and am assuming that it has slipped inside the other tube, but I won t know that until I stop and will probably have to sort it from the dinghy. I can t do it now, don t even think about it.
The afternoon was a lovely one with under 10 knots of wind and a gentle swell I drifted along until tea time. I did not have the strength to make even a quick loaf, so had crackers with my fish fillet. I was so organised, anti-slip on the table, tray on the anti-slip. Anti-slip on the tray, plate and knife and fork on the anti-slip. Crackers on the plate – on the table, on the seat. So now what, do I have to have anti-slip on the plate? I had not had any chocolate all day and had to decide how to ration what was left. I decided on one square for every 20 miles, but there was no point eating it in arrears, so I now have to get to 240 miles from Barbados before I can have any more.
8pm time for Herb on the radio, although he starts earlier getting the boats checked in. When I started this leg there were so many boats it took ages to deal with the ones N and S of Bermuda, in the Caribbean and then across to the ones from Canaries and Cape Verdes. Everybody is arriving before Xmas and each day boats say goodbye, I feel like I know them all personally. Today there were only a couple in the Caribbean area and the 3 near me and then Yvonne which recently left CV. Herb started with my group and we were all done by 8:05. It will only be Mike and Penny out there over Christmas, will Herb take a holiday??
Jim should have just started out from the Canaries, he was sorting his SSB, I don’t know if he will call in.
The weather for us should have been 15-20, but not just me, nobody had got this, so although W of 52W it should have been 15-20 evidently there are some holes and we must all be in a hole.
Tonight I was going to put the engine on when the batteries were failing, I had the lights on and the radar on 15 minute transmit and kept checking and Horatio was doing well with the course and nothing was out there and the batteries seemed fine. 3 am I could not stand it any longer, they were down to 12v and I was tired, so I put the engine on, took Horatio off and let Nemo steer. The wind was dead downwind for my course so there was no point leaving any sail out I just left it on autopilot. The boat just stays on course, so much easier than all this sailing lark. I left the radar with a full guard zone with maximum alarm, maybe then I can get some rest. I am sure I have been up every 1 to 1 ½ hours to keep watch and check course for most of the last 18 days, you don t even get up to babies that often. I don t seem to be able to really rest during the day either, things to do and you still have to watch and check course.
I didn t sleep, and I could not stop my two remaining brain cells chattering and running around, but I think I must have rested. I only got up a few times and no course changes.
Not long now, just got to hang in there a bit longer.
This morning I made another 4.5l of water before switching off the engine. I had to put the engine into idle and let Nemo sail the boat, which I am pleased he remembered how. Otherwise the speed was too much for the watermaker to suck any water in.
Finished the sugar puffs and I thought all I had left was weetabix and porridge, but I found some Muesli con Chocolat. If I get desperate I can have some of that.
I have the chart folded to show and the pilot open at the page for Barbados, which is UT-4, so I will have to work out what that will mean to my arrival time.
There is no point arriving in the dark or when the office is closed, I will have to move on to an anchorage after customs, so need to allow plenty of time.
Just over 100 miles yesterday, 250 to go. 10 miles to chocolate time.