DAY 5 – 8 December 2006, Friday
If yesterday sounded like I had had enough then that was partly right; it had just been relentless and I seemed very tired for such a short time. I had not really rested in CV and that probably just turned it into a bit of an endurance test rather early.
The wind did not really change direction, so I did not change tack, maybe later. In the afternoon the wind began to drop and the sun came out. This was not quite as good as I first thought, I was able to take my fleece off, but it was hours before the sea got the message about slowing down. The waves remained big but gradually got gentler.
I heard by e-mail from Steve that one boat had been abandoned due to the skipper not being well, one crew had to go with him and the other could not be left alone on the yacht; presumably this means they sank it to avoid being a danger to shipping. The dismasted yacht has been refuelled by a merchant ship and is determined to motor the rest of the way. They had rod rigging and not wires so another yacht turned up with a power angle grinder to help. I have one of those, but not the power to run it away from mains electricity, so presumably these were bigger boats. They won t be needing my 20 litres of diesel then.
On the radio I found out that the EPIRB was a Spanish boat that had lost its rudder and Daisy Blue, which was anchored in Sal with me, went to their assistance. They could not stop the water coming in and had to abandon the boat. If you have to hitch a lift Daisy Blue looked like a good ride. One of the boats on the radio was actually making for another boat that the ARC had asked them to assist, they too had lost their rudder.
Herb said that the rudder problems were due to the continuous strong conditions. All the boats reporting in said that they still had strong winds and big waves and were told that the weather should start to moderate all the way through until Monday or Tuesday. Most boats added that they would be glad to get lighter conditions. I was not alone. Herb then gave a waypoint for if they wanted to get to the better conditions head for 16N 30 to 32W. I was on 16N 33W and if I had a transmitter I could have told him that he was right and it was lovely.
Midnight I changed tack, the wind was down to 14 to 17 knots. I tacked back at 3 am and put in 2 reefs. As soon as the wind did pick up the sea was very quick to get rough again and slapped us around a bit. It was more like being anchored off Marbella beach than in the middle of the ocean. I was concerned that all these boats would come down to my patch of sea and it would be like rush hour on the M25 by the morning. This made it very important to keep to the track I wanted in case someone else took it if I just went a little bit off. I tweaked the sails just before 6, and 7 and at 8 am I let all the sail back out, the wind was down to 12 knots. It was just the table for one for breakfast as usual, no visitors had arrived. Because the other boats higher up than me are with or following the ARC course they are cutting the corner and will probably all come down well in front of me anyway. I now have the problem that goes with lighter winds, will I have enough power for the lights and instruments tonight. I have not used the engine since I left CV and was becoming a bit of a purist, but that was before I thought of the consequences of my chocolate going soft if I have to turn the fridge off.
The chocolate rations are going reasonably well. It was 4 pieces the first day, none the next, 8 pieces the day after to make up, double rations the following day for crew morale. They did it in Master and Commander, I think that was rum, but they probably didn t have any chocolate. 6 pieces yesterday left 5 pieces for today and tomorrow, but they may disappear like things do. It is not serious because you can t keep secrets in a boat this small and I know there is more chocolate and what is more I know where it is hidden.
There was a little fish in the saloon this morning, may be a good enough reason to put the sprayhood back up.
I do not have glass on the boat for obvious reasons, except one container, which I have always kept very secure because it was blue and I liked it. This morning was not quite as calm as I thought and the jar shattered into more pieces than you would think possible. It is not a problem as I have a cleaning crew, but it will be a while before it is all gone. The pieces are back in the sea to turn back to the sand from whence it came, blue sand. Cleaning the floor was on the list of things to do anyway, but the cleaner does not usually start until after breakfast and can get a bit stroppy, she has other things to do as well. Perhaps it is not the time to mention the little bit of washing in the laundry bag.
I have one little piece of glass in my foot and also found one little screw, now I wonder where that came from?