Island Wanderer, 22nd November 2011, Position 25:11.16N, 20:13.6W

Island Wanderer
Peter and Avril Brookes
Tue 22 Nov 2011 18:19
Life aboard ship is divided into 3 hour chunks; with 5 people on board and always having 2 people on watch, every 3 hours everyone gets a 3 hour break, then every fifth day, a day  off from watch keeping. Not quite a day off though, as on that day the person is required to cook and clean.
So what are the jobs 'on watch'? Keeping the boat sailing in the right direction, trimming sails, checking for wear and tear and looking out for other boats are the main ones, with a number of smaller jobs to fill the time.
And 'off watch'? Sleeping, reading, fishing and anything else we fancy really.
The last 24 hours have seen frustration, bad fortune, new skills and success with the rod!
The frustration has been sailing into an area of light wind and waiting for the wind to fill in. It was inevitable but still frustrating. Every morning we download a set of wind charts (grib files) and yesterday's showed a large area of light winds just in front of us. Sure enough we were soon motoring and spent much of the daylight hours under engine. As predicted, early evening the wind filled in and we were able to sail again.
The bad fortune was yet another cap lost overboard for Derek. Despite being tied on all day when a night time sail adjustment was required it boiled down losing either the cap, or a 7 metre carbon fibre spinnaker pole overboard. Reluctantly he chose the cap!
These days our boats are equipped with incredibly accurate gps navigation equipment that can tell us where we are, anywhere on the surface of the earth often to within a few metres. However most of us grew up and learned to sail before the advent of gps. Ancient mariners used no more than the sun, a compass and a forked stick to return them to their starting point after many months at sea. For us we have a sextant on board and have begun the task of seeing how accurately we can position ourselves with this elaborate piece of equipment. Our first attempt placed us on a line a little over 4 miles to the north of our accurate (gps) position so whilst 4 miles may seem a long way to many people its not a great distance when crossing oceans and only double our target of 2 mile accuracy. Not a bad first attempt!
And now to the fishing. We brought on board an array of fishing tackle that would make a small shopkeeper proud it seemed, so were rather disappointed yesterday to trawl the lines and teasers for 10 hours with not even a bite. Today was different though. Within 2 hours of running out the lines, one of the reels suddenly screamed and the rod tip bent double. The reel has some 400m or so of line on it and almost all of that was taken before the battle evened up a little and we began to gain back line. Some 30 minutes later, the 5 foot gaff that caused so much amusement at Gatwick Airport last week as Derek tried to persuade the airline to let him bring, had a 24 pound Dorado hanging from it, some of which is now being cooked for tonight's dinner!
Overall, our progress is quite pleasing, the sun is out a lot, the temperature is fluctuating between shorts and tee shirt and long trousers and jumpers and as we head SW it should improve rapidly. The winds are forecast to remain favourable for the next day or so at least, the boat is behaving impeccably and the cooks are managing to serve some amazing food, though Derek is reserving judgement with Dorado on the menu tonight!