DAY 3 – 6 December 2006
The wind remained generally 20 knots, sometimes going down a little, but just as often going up. It was not that comfortable, but I got used to it. I have stubbed my big toes and they always seem to get more hurt when I am continually trying to brace myself. The waves are usually huge and quite mesmerising. I have left the sprayhood up, it might give me an extra bit of speed downwind, but there are also waves that crash over the top. Sometimes they come from the back and both sides all at once, but they tend to wait until you turn your back before they crash.
I am doing well with the book and tried to settle in the cockpit to read in a little bit of sun. I was immediately dumped onto the floor, more bruises, back inside.
The wind went ESE at noon and I changed to port tack. So far this is enabling me to stay on course. I am prepared to go off the line if necessary, but I have a line on the GPS and find it quite comforting to see my little diamond right there where it should be. My instruments go up to 9.99nm XTE, but I keep it down to below 5.
I only tack the once after noon and back again before dark, when the wind changes back to NE.
I do plot my progress on the chart, but that is not so exciting as I move about 1cm a day. I put the plotter on once or twice just to see it in colour and to make sure all my instruments agree. Basically as long as the sun rises behind me and the compass says I am going generally W then that should be enough, but it never hurts to double or triple check.
I am headed for Barbados, but Trinidad is always there if I miss.
1700 there was a freighter going the other way. There are no shipping lanes where I am according to my books, a little further out going from America to Cape Town, I should have asked him.
I decided to make pancakes for tea and clean out the fridge and do the washing and wiping up. Sounds simple, but it was actually a bit ambitious for the conditions.
At 1800 the sea went chaotic. I managed the pancakes, cleaning out the fridge was frustrating. I got a very small bucket of seawater for the washing up and it went everywhere except in the sink. I did the washing up, but had to resort to going outside and having a heated discussion with the wind and waves, The genoa started to practice its origami technique round the forestay and that was too much; one and a half reefs before he even know what had hit him. I was only going to do one, but refused to let the extra back out.
It was time to change tack and so I ended up losing out and he was back at 1 reef. I did the wiping up, before it had a chance to throw itself around the saloon. I must say that the new draining board and rack are very sucessful and I can leave stuff to drain in reasonable conditions.
Conditions worsened and as it was now dark I ended up reefing and reefing and eventually only had a very small bit of genoa out, but still we plod on. I tried to listen to the boats on the radio, but reception was terrible and gave up within minutes rather than make myself feel ill. I knew what the conditions were and could do little about it if they got worse. The conditions always seem worse in the dark. 20 knots in the day and I will let the genoa out fully, 20 knots in the dark and I am reefed up to the forestay. I don t want to have to go out and play in the dark if it suddenly goes berserk. In the dark I am on starboard tack and the problem with the genoa sheet and the furling line on the same side is still unresolved. It has always been a problem that I vow I will solve, but never do. I have to take the furling line to the winch on the other side and climbing over the rope in the dark is not something I do happily. Rather like the winch for the main is only one speed, I need it to be two speed. When this leg is over will I do these things, £££, or will it all be forgotten until the next time they get me into trouble.
6:30 this morning I started letting out the reefs, bit at a time, they were all out by 9:30. The other reason for not going into the cockpit in the dark is the fish. I cannot concentrate on what I am supposed to be doing if I am checking for fish underfoot. I can now pick them up by the wings and throw them overboard. This morning I had started returning them from whence they came when I decided to count them. I collected them all, except for the one that had been squashed under the ranging plank, I had 50 little ones, one a bit bigger and two that would probably have made a meal. I did think that really I should try and see if I could cut it up, as I had not had to kill it, but that has been put off to another day. Possibly the same day that I am going to go in the water for a swim. Manyana.
I am now 2 hours behind GMT, but am not changing anything. It is not like I have to be anywhere at a certain time. If I save all the hours up until the end I can have a long lie in.
115nm since yesterday noon.