Yee Hah!

Kingfisher 2013
Peter Smith
Thu 12 Dec 2013 07:10
0300 12th December - 12:05N:45:51W - wind steadily above 20 knots, occasionally gusting above 25 knots; Kingfisher has her surfing shorts on; so does the skipper! Finally, the trades have really arrived - squalls everywhere, waves starting to threaten the little transom hatch that Ben and I have kept open for ventilation and 26 tons of superb yacht design finally doing what she was made for. Sailors are a superstitious lot so I am not going to say anything more than "Wow -she is good. We are lucky to be in such good hands……" We haven't quite got the timber shivering downhill sleigh rides going just yet; the waves have not had the time to build that high but they are clearly coming. It is hard to beat the sensation as first one head sail and then the other just pulls us off the top of the waves and keeps the boat absolutely level for a few seconds; longer with each little strengthening of the gusts. The only place to be is on deck listening to a good bit of Springsteen. Who needs sleep?

Well some of the crew do appear to need sleep. In fact they are all slumbering now as far as I can tell. But no-one has been even slightly late for a watch (at any point in the whole of the last 6 weeks) which is a big tribute to them all. They are making increasingly good decisions whilst in the cockpit, handling the sail changes well and all delivering exceptionally good food all day long on their mother watches. In short parents, you are allowed to be proud of your children although they are now, of course, ocean mariners and not children any more (sorry about that - it can't be helped).

Tash - the baker


We celebrated the halfway (from Cape Verdes) mark this evening with a little champagne and Alex S's superb meatballs with couscous. In the aftermath prior to being able to move again we listened to some Peter Cook and Dudley Moore sketches in honour of Radley (Peter Cook is an alumnus) and let the darkness gradually enfold us. Unfortunately, this also meant that I forgot to reel in Sammy Senior who was out on the rod for most of the day idling his time away doing nothing for his keep. Ben and Tash were therefore taken by surprise at around 2300 when some monster fish got hold of his tail and started trying to run off with the goods making the reel scream and the rod bend almost in half. However, as you all know, Sammy is made of sterner stuff than that and they managed to get me up on deck, slow the boat down, prepare the gaff, the bucket, the vodka and the knife before we had the misfortune to lose him about 20 m from the stern. He took the octopus and our only free lead weight but the rest of Sammy held on and we got the head, hooks, hose and swivel back on board. So close but no sushi. We know that Tommy Tuna is out there……we will catch him tomorrow!

Kingfisher showing off her Atlantic downwind rig


Just seen 27 knots flash up on the plotter - better go and enjoy that up on deck.

0440 - slight interlude there for some squalls. A quick word about Atlantic squalls for those of you not familiar with the genre. In the daytime, they look like cartoon caricatures of a thunder storm - anvil shaped clouds with black rain underneath showing all the way down to the water. At night you cannot really see them but they obliterate the horizon and the rain generally shows up on the radar as a big purple splurge. They usually arrive from the starboard quarter (on the left, looking backwards for some of you) and track across our path on a diagonal that takes them off to port (on the left, looking forwards; see why we use port and starboard?). Their track is not, however, all that easy to predict. Sometimes they move quickly, sometimes they appear to stop moving; sometimes they move sideways relative to the boat. The net result, at night anyway, is a bit like an arcade game on the chart plotter, in which you are being attacked by alien purple blobs and have to avoid them - except that there is nothing you can do to avoid them. You just prepare to get hit anyway….because when they strike you (as opposed to missing you) the wind backs 20-30 degrees and jumps up one or two forces (+10-20 knots above what you had before) in the space of about 20 seconds. You get sheet rain for about half an hour after which the wind veers and drops and life continues. Jolly amusing for those off watch - quite exciting for those on deck. In the time it had taken me to write the 3 paragraphs above, 3-4 large squalls had shown up for the party. They then tracked right behind us and then proceeded to move past us on port but close enough for us to get some rain and a little touch of wind. Fortunately, those ones have all missed us but others are arriving as I write this with one eye on the radar. To add to the overall effect, as I was getting rained on, a medium sized flying fish decided to commit suicide in our cockpit and was making a pretty big fuss over it. Normally, I would have thrown it back over the side immediately because they are smelly things and make a mess of my teak whilst they flap about. But, I was occupied reefing headsails and also wanted to keep this one for bait tomorrow. So now I have one dead flying fish in the fishing bucket (good) and a really fishy cockpit until we get the hose out tomorrow and wash it down (lovely). All in a day's work. Back to my iPod now.