Feast or Famine

Paul Huntley
Sun 24 May 2009 08:00

33:57N 59:06W

Sunday 24th May 2009

Good morning to you all reading my blogs. This is our fifth day at sea and we are 500 nm distance run, I wish I could report that we were well east of Bermuda but, the reality is that only half the distance is towards the Azores. During the first few days we experienced north easterly winds in excess of 20 knots with a short uncomfortable sea making life on board very hard for all of us. Our weather forecast indicates that the prevailing wind from the south west has deserted us for the time being and it may reappear on Monday night or Tuesday morning above 36:00 N and east of 60:00 W .As of yesterday morning (Saturday) the north east wind fell away gradually until we were making no progress, I decided ,reluctantly to motor to the north east in search of wind from the right direction.  

So here I am on watch at 03:00 with the engine running giving a speed of 6kts and a course of 070 degrees. With finite fuel supplies we have to prioritise the use of generator for at least two hours a day to maintain the charge in the battery bank which in turn provideds us with the power to run our navigation systems and other vital equipment such as the water maker. It is similar to a game of poker, the cards representing the choices of when and how much you use this resource to head towards your eventual destination knowing at best we can motor for no more that 500 nm, which in this case would take us approximately half way to the Azores before all the system shut down and we were entirely at the mercy of the wind to complete the journey. Before engines, sailing vessels had no choice and we can now appreciate the skill and patience required to complete a passage safely. We, on Libertad have contingency plans for just such an event, with considerable reserves of fresh water and enough food to last us a month. The Aerogen wind generator should provide limited charge to the batteries and maintain at least our communications systems. However if anyone fancies a trip to the garage to pick up a few litres of diesel and bring it out to us you would be most welcome.

It has been a more comfortable passage since the wind and seas subsided enabling us all to get some much need rest. Sleep is always a priority and I feel very fortunate with a crew of five we can run short watches around the clock with two hours on and eight off. There are many other jobs to do in your off watch period but generally you can manage your own time.

Meal times are most important the imagination and skill in preparing the main evening meal of the day is a highlight, get it wrong and the crew start talking floggings or keel hauling. Get it right and the praise flows with every tasty morsel. Last evening Mordecai rustled up roast pork ribs with fresh potatoes, cabage and carrots followed by the last of the fresh fruit (they ate all the bananas before I could get to them!) We often have a beer or rum punch before the main meal to give us something to look forward too. And an opportunity to sit and chat in the cockpit together.

Yesterday evening after dinner we were passed by a very large bulk carrier of more than eighty thousand tons and no more than a mile separating us. The night watches were reminded to ensure they spotted these leviathans before they ran us down, they appear over the horizon very quickly and within ten to fifteen minutes they are have passed, most of them travelling at between 18/20 knots.

I can report that all the crew are fit and well and settling down to life at sea, I have just handed over the watch to Mordecai , we sat in the cockpit for a few moments and watched the sky spotting satellites on their perpetual merry-go-round of the globe, and several shooting stars plummeting to earth in a flash of brilliant white.

Well I away to my berth for the second half of my sleep, good night to you all Paul