JJMoon Diary
Barry and Margaret Wilmshurst
Wed 3 Jan 2007 15:10

The twenty-four hour period to noon yesterday was a BIG DAY; force 7 and everything that follows from that.  The next day has been merely very satisfactory.  We are in good heart and rested but the cruising life is full of little problems.


We have leant sideways on the main companionway steps once too often – it is very difficult not to do so.  Fixings have broken and the steps are a bit wobbly.  One of the new lee cloths (they prevent you rolling out of your berth) is damaged.  If the main hatch is pulled shut to prevent splashes on to the chart table and computer, the instruments (log, speed, depth etc) go out and re-set to zero.  I have done some investigation as to why this should happen but every time I carry out a test they re-set again.  We have had to fix a temporary stop on the hatch.  Not serious but a nuisance.  Our ensign has a hole in it.  Strong following winds have rubbed it on a piece of sharp metal.  Fortunately it is an “ordinary” red ensign, not the Royal Dart defaced one.  I wonder whether it is illegal to fly a national maritime ensign with a hole in it.  Some of my friends are a bit touchy about ensigns.


Yesterday afternoon, just at “nice cup of tea and Christmas cake” time, the horseshoe lifebuoy was washed out of its mounting to trail thirty metres astern with its floating light and drogue.  Mags spent twenty minutes sitting on the counter with her feet over the edge (quite safely!) getting the pieces back on board and tidied up.  We immediately took all the sail off the boat but she still sailed at 3 knots and it was devilish difficult to pull in the thin hard line against the pull of the drogue.  We have been mulling over some important lessons about this incident; to do with the unsuitability of the particular equipment for this type of use and our own lack of appreciation of how it should be deployed and how it works in practice.  The lifebuoy is now in the cockpit ready to be thrown overboard instantly if (Heaven forbid!) it is ever needed..


This morning the chart table computer went dead with a click.  Not a happy moment.  After breathing some fresh air on deck for a few minutes I realized that in trying unsuccessfully to get through on the SSB radio to others in our little group I had knocked off a vital switch.  No problem after all.  We cannot receive satisfactorily on the radio.  It transmits OK and I am able to get some e-mails away via the server in Belgium but I cannot hear friends 500 miles away.  I gave one of them a call on the satphone and asked for advice.  Old salts must be hooting with derision at the modern so called sailor who cannot use his basic comms. equipment so picks up the telephone and phones a friend.


In our reflective moments we have been recalling our time in the Canary Islands.  They are not at all as I had expected; more extensive, more varied and with plenty of room for all types of holidaymakers and other foreigners.  The native Spanish are so very friendly and helpful.  Perhaps it is to do with being island dwellers.


Incidentally, while we are on passage I am only opening e-mails on the MailaSail address and, occasionally the ZIRU9 {CHANGE TO AT} sailmail {DOT} com address.  MailaSail compresses and technically edits the mails and they are relatively quick and inexpensive to download through the satellite phone, which is very slow.  Gmail messages will have to wait until we get a faster connection.