Day 10: Starry Starry Night

Mina2 in the Caribbean - Where's The Ice Gone?
Tim Barker
Sat 12 Dec 2009 13:38

Noon Position:  08:05S 031:46W

Noon to Noon Run:  166 miles

Date:  12 December 2009


When Peter was anticipating this trip, he was talking to some friends who had crossed the Atlantic before. Their most enduring memories were the clarity of the skies and the dazzling starlit nights. So he, and all of us, have been surprised and disappointed that since we crossed the equator there has been pretty comprehensive cloud cover. During the day this has served to keep the temperature down, but at night there has been little to marvel at.


But not last night. During the afternoon the clouds cleared and all of us spent most of the night just gazing upwards in astonishment. In all the years I have been sailing, I have never seen a display like it. Adding to the spectacle were a succession through the night of shooting stars and, to cap it all, we were visited by dolphins at 0300 who were covered in phosphorescence as they cavorted round the boat. Nice, too, to clearly see the Southern Cross for the first time. A night to remember.


Meanwhile, after the stonking good 190-mile run yesterday, we were quite relieved when the wind abated and the boat straightened up a bit. Life at a permanent 40 degree angle can get a bit wearing after a while. At dawn this morning the wind had backed more to the east so up went the cruising chute and we have been reaching along at 7.5 knots over the azure sea under a cerulean sky studded with just a few cotton wool trade wind clouds. For the icing on this almost perfect cake, Peter has just plugged in his iPod and turned the music on: Andy Williams Christmas Special. Creaming along in 35 degree heat listening to “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” is about as surreal an experience as you can get!


We are currently just 180 miles east of Recife and only 520 miles to Salvador, our destination. This would normally be considered to be a pretty long passage but after 10 days oat sea it seems like we are almost there, and we are nearly at the point of tidying up in readiness for our arrival.


I have dealt with the crew issues. All alcohol on board has now been transferred into the skipper’s locked cabinet. Cold turkey can be difficult, but Venetia is doing commendably well as she dries out. No more ratty than usual really.


We have swept the boat for cardboard (there was remarkably little left as it happened – Peter had done a thorough job), and chucked it all overboard. Peter’s anguished screams tore at my heart strings, but tough problems need tough solutions. And it’s a bit of a tough solution for Neil as well. Without the cardboard supplement, he’s all but wasting away.


We had a formal walking of the plank ceremony for Peter’s imaginary friend, John Barrowman, so that problem has been solved as well. Or I think so: last night when Peter was alone on deck I overheard him chatting away to someone. “So, Andy” he was saying “tell me a bit more about this unreachable star”. We may not be completely out of the woods yet.