Absent Downstairs Skipper Causes Crew to Starve

Mina2 in the Caribbean - Where's The Ice Gone?
Tim Barker
Thu 17 Nov 2011 11:50

Position: 39:58.32S 056:55.71W

Date: 17 November 2011

Time: 0845 L 1145 UTC


By 1800 yesterday evening we had been “sailing” for 62 hours of which we had had the engine on for 42 hours, travelling a total of 320 miles. That is more engine time than we needed over a three month period when we sailed from Portugal down the coast of Africa, over to the Cape Verde Islands and across the Atlantic – a distance of 4500 miles. With 800 miles to go we have used half the fuel in our tanks. Thank God we have the reserves in the jerry cans, but even so we will not now be using the engine unless we are absolutely stationery in the water, so it may take a little longer to get to Stanley than we had planned.


Since 1800 yesterday we have had a light breeze from behind us and have been goose-winging (mainsail on one side, big foresail on the other side) slowly at about 4.5 knots. Very pleasant. A lot more wind is forecast for later today and tomorrow from the same direction, so that should give us a good shove.


Now well out into the ocean, we have entered a different realm and we are surrounded by wildlife. We have had a couple of visits from Dusky dolphins and have had numerous birds wheeling around us including Cape petrel, Wilsons Storm petrel, Great shearwater, White Throated shearwater, Southern Great shearwater, Northern Great shearwater, Black Browed albatross, Southern Royal albatross and South American tern. We have passed Southern fur seals lying on their backs in the water applauding our progress by clapping their flippers, and we’ve been overtaken by flocks of Megallenic penguins swimming through the water – a naturalist’s paradise.


The sea and air temperature has fallen substantially and on the night watches it is a chilly 13 C. Last night I donned for the first time my Weazel suit which is a rather fetching one piece undersuit used by divers in very cold water. It makes me look like a Teletubby but I’m snug as a bug in twin duvets. Linda says it makes me look cute and she wants to roll me around the decks. She doesn’t yet understand what sort of a ship this is. If she tries that on, sister or no sister she’ll be clapped in irons, confined to her quarters and her ration of a Jacob’s Fig Roll at tea time will be withdrawn.


We have had a considerable shock. The Absent Downstairs Skipper emailed from her mother’s flat in Buenos Aires to say she had gone to the freezer (presumably to find ice for yet another stiff gin) and found a whole load of frozen chicken breasts, minced meat and pre-cooked chilli con carne that she had forgotten to bring to the boat. I’m not saying we’ll starve without these essential supplies (today we tucked into part of the first of four entire fillets of beef we have in the fridge), but it wasn’t exactly good for morale.


John rose to the emergency. He is a keen fly fisherman and he looked at the birds wheeling round the boat and said “I think I could hook one of them”. Out came the fishing gear and in no time he was reeling in an enormous plump seabird that will make a feast for us this evening. Linda looked it up in her bird book. It is something called a Wandering Albatross. Linda remembers reading a poem about an albatross once, but can’t remember the details.


Hang on, out of the clear blue sky there is a very menacing black cloud approaching, spitting forks of lightning. Better go.