The one that got away

Paul Huntley
Sat 13 Dec 2008 11:50

14:59.97N 52:47.25W

Saturday 13th December 2008.

Good morning to you all this bright Saturday, I tell a lie, it is 20:35 hrs on Friday evening, local ships time, so I don’t know what Saturday is like yet. I am at my chart table having just washed up the dinner dishes because the watch system has one watch in ten, that is a peach, and this is it! I am on from 20::00 hrs to 22:00 hrs then I can sleep until 06:00 Hrs tomorrow morning, yippee!! What a treat, almost normal.

I have to update you on the saga of Enid the egret, we think she stayed until maybe 04:00 this morning but she decided that her rest was sufficient and she should take off to find feeding grounds far away. No one saw her go so we don't know which direction she flew, we hope it was to the west, downwind and only 500 miles to the nearest land which would be Suriname or Guyana, as the egret flies, I hope she makes it

Today we have had fantastic sailing winds with much improved sea conditions, our average speed has been more than 6 knots spoiled by only minor squalls during the night. Our noon to noon run was 141n.m.not quite our best, but close. The sun has been shinning from a partly cloudy sky making it a little cooler and almost bearable below decks, imagine what it must have been like on those slave ships in these latitudes all those years ago, crammed below decks without ventilation and only allowed on deck once a day Bobs enthusiasm for fishing is waning, leaving his rod tied to a life line, Dave and I were working on the aft Dorade vents on deck and we heard this wheeeee  as  the line on the rod took off at great speed emptying the reel in a flash ,and disappearing over the side .It must have been a very big fish ! He spent the rest of the day untangling the new line to replace the lost one. There must be a big Tuna with a hook and 100mtrs of line coming from his mouth. 

Continuing on the crew expose theme, tonight it's James turn.

James (Cowles) born in 1985 in Southampton to Dick and Ellen, His home is in the delightful seaside (Solent side) resort of Milford on Sea, just the seaward side of Hurst spit and Castle looking towards Bournemouth and Christchurch. In these idyllic surroundings it is not surprising he grew up with some salt water in his veins, as a child, dinghy sailing was as natural as playing football to some children; He was a junior member of the Royal Lymington Yacht club and cut his teeth on Scows and Optimist dinghies. His dad, also a keen sailor introduced him to yacht sailing on a friend’s Vancouver 32, built at Northshore in Chichester Harbour. To say he was hooked is an understatement, every opportunity he has, he‘s afloat.

He was educated at King Edwards School in Southampton with grades at A level good enough to win him a place on the Mechanical engineering degree course at Brunel University, London. Being a long way from the sea did not deter him, sailing still played an important part in his university life as Commodore and Team Captain of Brunel University sailing. Club, coming third in the fleet nationals held at the Weymouth and Portland sailing academy, the Olympic sailing venue, in his last year whilst he was team captain. He graduated with a very respectable 2:1 BEng Hons, so in spite of having a really great time he did a little work as well! Congratulations James, four years of hard work paid off, now it’s payback time!

During this time he also qualified as an R.Y.A. Offshore Yachtmaster with Adrenaline Sailing, Gosport, no mean achievement at such a young age, He applied for a vacation job in Greece with Neilsons Yacht charter as a flotilla skipper, a little more adventurous than his previous holiday jobs at the local swimming pool as a life guard. Nidri the Neilsons Greek base in the Ionian offers bare boat and flotilla charter. The job of flotilla skipper is to teach, train and lead a small group of yachts to the favoured destinations in the area. He tells me he learnt some patience and humility when his clients attempted some of the more difficult manoeuvres of boat handling.

His father, Dick, now living and working in Melbourne, Australia extended and invitation for James to join him at Christmas, I get the feeling this young man enjoys the unconventional and spends some time thinking "out of the box”. Yes he could have bought an airline ticket to Melbourne direct, but ended up on Libertad, He has a very practical approach to most things and has been a great help to me on more than one occasion in solving some mechanical problems that have developed on board. He has also been studying for his Ocean Yachtmaster using the sextant to take Sun and Lunar sights with some success, being only three miles adrift on a sun run sun position.

His alertness on watch can only be surpassed by his aptitude to sleep, even in the roughest and noisiest of conditions. On one occasion the First Mate, Bob , had to wake him twice to come on watch, This ability to sleep anywhere at any time was sometimes resented but normally envied by the rest of the crew.

Well done James you have become a vital member of the Libertad crew and there will always be a place for you wherever Libertad may sail, We will have to team you up with Jake and Tim, U.K to Lagos Crew, I am not sure who would wake whom for the.! Good luck in Australia and keep in touch; we will be blogging until July next year.

Its 08:45 Saturday morning, the sun is up in all its glory promising another hot day, already the temperature is 26 degrees. The night passed in tranquillity, no squalls to report from any of the watches .We need to charge batteries so  I started the main engine to give it a run for an hour or so. We have only used the engine for a total of 4:5 hours since leaving Las Palmas. Now we are less than 500 nm from St Lucia with another days run of a 140nm under the keel. The German yacht “Frangipani” that had not reported its position and was feared lost is safe and well and not far behind us, I think they must of had communications problems.

James, no he is not asleep he is reading his P.D.A. A what? It’s an electronic book, he tells me It has the entire works of Tolstoy, War and Peace and the Rupert the Bear annual 2006 on its memory with space for the Bible translated in twenty languages, its smaller than a cigarette packet, what will they think of next, It makes me feel old. James how do I spell check this blog?.

Good night to you all, if you’re not bored with these blogs yet there will be more tomorrow I hope.

Paul, Skipper of Libertad