Dropping South to Gijon

Wed 4 Jul 2012 14:00
43:32.8N 05:40.12W

The Wind dropped again on Monday, we were still making decent progress but the boat was much more settled, to the extent that I decided to spend some time below deck doing some cooking - Phil had expressed a hankering for fruitcake. This is when I discovered something: you can't weigh out ingredients on passage. I should have realised.. I had though that it would be tricky, trying to keep things balanced on a set of scales, but hadn't realised that you actually just can't do it. Think about when you're in a lift: the lift starts going up and you feel heavier - pressed into the floor, then it starts to slow down and you feel lighter, until it stops. Going down again you feel momentarily light, like the lift left you behind in the air, then as it slows to stop you feel heavier again. Well, all the time that the boat is moving up and down that is happening to you, like going up and down in a lift. And it's also happening to the ingredients, the same amount, on a set of scales, weighs between 2 and 8oz... depending if the boat is on it's way up, on it's way down or changing from one to the other...

So the cooking happened by guesswork, and into the oven it went, along with potatoes baking on the top shelf for lunch, and rice pudding on the bottom shelf. Well, if you're going to burn gas using the oven for cake it makes sense when you have a limited supply to  make as much use of it as you can. 

The wind dropped more and more, until we decided to bring the Toad back in, he wasn't producing much power and just slowing us down now. I was worried about how it would be getting the turbine back in, as it's spinning all the time you are pulling it in, but we'd heard of a trick to try. We attached a small fender to the rope, using a karabiner  each end, and let it slide down the spinning rope. The rope being dragged through the water sent the fender right down to the turbine, lifting it to the surface and stopping it spinning. It worked perfectly. The next problem was 30ft of rope that is all twisted, likely to tie itself into knots on the deck, but Phil just let it out again behind us as we pulled it in, and dragging in the water behind us it simply untwisted itself completely so we could pull it back in and coil it ready for the next time. 

Here's a pic of the stern of Lochmarin, showing Sadie-self-steerer (in the middle, the Monitor blade sticking up) and Toad the towed generator (small white thing hanging below right hand yellow horseshoe)

And here's Biscay with no wind...

One great thing about the lack of wind was that when the Dolphins came back to play again the water was so clear that we could see them in wonderful detail. We lay on the foredeck, with just our heads peering over, as they jumped to breath they were just a few feet below us, sometimes as many as 8 bunched in together, ducking and diving past each other. Some have scratches and marks on them so we could start to identify individuals. Two were always together, fins touching as they rolled and played in the bow wave. It was hard to capture them on film, and to be truthful, when they came I didn't want to go run for the camera in case they left before I got back, but here's a couple of shots Phil got when it wasn't as calm to give you an idea:

We had expected to arrive at Gijon before night fall, but the wind just dropped away so we had another night on passage. Finally the wind dropped completely, we figured we were in no hurry, we'd just bob about until it came back again, but the swell started rolling through and we were swinging backwards and forwards from 20 degrees to port to 20 degrees to starboard - horrid! Every thing that wasn't tied down sliding from one side of the boat to the other, every cupboard clanking and rattling... So we gave in and motored, much more comfortable, and arrived at the port around 3:30am, long before sun up, so we had another night entry. It was a bit harder than the last one, as it's a big town here, with so many shore lights to confuse the issue. Finally we managed to identify the red and green port and starboard lights that identified the entry to the marina, but then we got worried, as there seemed to be two more green lights in the same area - brighter than the ones we had spotted, but we couldn't always see them, and sometimes there seemed to be red lights too... some frantic referencing the Almanac, the charts, the pilot guide proved futile, and it was only when we happened to be watching them at the moment they changed from red to green that we realised... traffic lights! In Spain there's no amber... 

So we got in safely, by about 5:30, and took a short walk along the breakwater before grabbing some well earned sleep.