Day 6: The Point of No Return

Mina2 in the Caribbean - Where's The Ice Gone?
Tim Barker
Tue 8 Dec 2009 13:42

Noon Position:  01:29.7N 026:29.0W

Noon to Noon Run:  118miles (motoring or sailing slowly)

Date:  8 December 2009


I was roundly criticised by the whole crew for yesterday’s blog. “If you write a blog as boring as that tomorrow, your five fans will stop reading it” said Neil in his usual charming way. The pressure’s on, but no promises.


We have reached the point of no return insofar as we are now closer to the coast of Brazil than we are to the coast of Africa. Now 750 miles offshore, we are further from land than any of us have ever been before.


From a sailing perspective, it has been a slightly frustrating 24 hours. Through the Doldrums we motored. When we came out of the Doldrums yesterday afternoon, and the wind returned at last, rather than finding south easterly trade winds of 18 to 25 knots which we were banking on to waft us rapidly to Brazil, they were light – and slightly west of south. When we did sail, we were heading more towards the Caribbean than Salvador. So we have alternated between going slowly in the wrong direction when there’s enough wind to sail, and motoring in the right direction when there isn’t. Venetia, litigious as ever, is talking about suing the tour operator under the Trades Descriptions Act (geddit?).


Whilst we are deliberately further to the east than almost all the other boats (we hope this will benefit us later) we know that they have been experiencing the same frustrations. We lost radio contact with David on “Suzie Too” early yesterday and we are now more than 65 miles apart (they being further north but further west of us). Before radio comms ceased we had started a game of remote Marine Trivial Pursuits (e.g. “How do dolphins sleep?” Answer: They close down half their brain to rest it whilst continuing to swim etc with the other half. As I said to David “Neil seems to operate on much the same basis”). Since then we have continued our correspondence with “Suzie Too” by occasional email and at the same time we advise one another of position and conditions. And the forecasts are indicating light winds with a southerly bias for a number of days so it might be a slow frustrating passage from now on. If this is the case we are unlikely to continue doing well as, at 20 tons and about the heaviest boat in the fleet, we need a bit of a puff to get us going. So expect to see us slipping back in the fleet if these conditions continue.


Snoopy, old and revered fellow traveller, is on board as ship’s mascot and he has been throwing himself into the day-to-day activities. Yesterday he was on deck trimming the sails and even took a turn on the helm. At lunch time he was in the galley helping to chop up a cucumber, all of his activities faithfully recorded by Peter on the video. But yesterday afternoon I found Snoopy slumped on the saloon table. His exertions had been too much for him. He wasn’t breathing and I couldn’t feel a pulse. A suspected heart attack!


“Peter” I shouted “I have an emergency! Quick, bring the camera”. Neil, who had been sleeping in his cabin for just half an hour heard the word “Emergency” and leapt from his bunk to find me administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to Snoopy. Neil was not amused. Only by promising him an entire box of biscuits for his own personal consumption from our rapidly diminishing supplies did I avoid having to sit on the naughty chair.



Snoopy receives heart massage


Meanwhile Neil seems to have come round at last and is recognising the very considerable achievements of Peter. Neil now openly refers to Peter as “The Golden Boy” although sometimes I do wonder whether there isn’t a bit of a sneer in his voice as he spits the words out.


I am very much hoping that my next blog will be announcing our Crossing of The Line (Equator), the first time for all of us, and that we’ll be sailing in the Southern Hemisphere. This is a great moment for any sailor and the champagne is already in the fridge. If we carry on at the rate we are at the moment, we should be popping the cork sometime tomorrow morning.