An entertaining day....

Kingfisher 2013
Peter Smith
Sat 7 Dec 2013 22:15
2015 on Saturday 7th December - 14:35N:33:46W

We have had a very unusual day today. At around 0800 this morning we ran into (nearly!) the 62 ft classic yacht (The Blue Peter) and the Oyster 625 (True Blue) on which our Kiwi, Aussie and US friends from Mindelo are sailing…..500 nm out of the Cape Verdes with departure times separated by at least 4-5 hours and we found ourselves on a collision course after 3 days in the Atlantic without any coordination between us. Because The Blue Peter is low in the water, made of wood and using the minimum electronic gadgetry she was quite hard to pick up on the AIS and radar. I therefore woke up (after 1 hour's sleep since my dog watch last night) to the AIS alarm indicating that she was within half a mile and realised that we were closing rapidly with her. They had the right of way (on starboard) so we gybed fairly quickly (I think I may have had to raise my voice at one point) ……and shortly after that their skipper (who we had not met in Mindelo) hailed us on the radio and very kindly apologised for making us alter course (they were having a problem with their water maker and their watch keepers were all down below trying to sort it out). I pointed out that the responsibility for avoiding them was all ours and we then had a very friendly exchange of pleasantries about the weather and the trip so far etc. At this stage I had a suspicion that we may have found our new friends in the middle of the ocean and sure enough, half an hour later, Tony called us up and we started up a 3 way VHF conversation which has been running all day with increasing levels of great banter. First off, we dealt with the fishing situation. True Blue had caught a massive Mahi Mahi immediately after leaving Mindelo and then lost their lure to some monster catch on the next bite. Gary on The Blue Peter, with whom I have the £100 bet, still has his lure but has not had a bite yet. I confessed to having lost our lure early on but let them know that we are still very much in the hunt with the new, mega lure and that the bet is still on. A fair amount of ribbing has had to be endured over the cricket scores but we have had the benefit of a lot of ammunition courtesy of the last Ashes and the Lions victory. The boys have been loving it. They have very kindly offered to let us join them to make a threesome (they are both heading to Barbados) and Kingfisher has been doing brilliantly to keep up with them both until we launched Sammy Senior this afternoon and slowed ourselves down by 0.5 kt. We have caught up with them again now using a little bit of the Italian jib and are all planning to gybe together to head South again at around midnight tonight. It is really great to be in company and has added a new dimension to the sailing. We will have to see if we can keep up with them but, if we can, we may stay in convoy all the way across.

I should have pointed out that, until sunset when we switched on the engine to catch up, we had been sailing for about 24 hours in glorious conditions. We are now expecting the wind to die again for at least two days during Monday and Tuesday before returning in force to power us across during the last week. I am still very hopeful that we will make it into Grenada by the 17th. It is hard to be sure but that is my best estimate at the moment.

Other news; the streaming out of the back with a weight attached DID do the trick with the tangled line so we have our best line back on the reel and ready for normal fishing again. (Sammy Senior has been launched on the other side of the transom using the main sheet winch but we have yet to try both at the same time!). The general excitement, and exhaustion of the mid-ocean encounter thing prevented the inaugural sextant exercise at noon. We were in a dialogue about trying to exchange beer for cucumbers with True Blue at that time in the day. Same time tomorrow should work though…..Everyone is enjoying the sailing, the weather, the company and it has been, all in all, a most entertaining day.