Thurs 3rd May, 11am BST, 6am local. 31:14 N 56:27W
No wind yet, and no further fish. Nice weather tho. Still motoring along at
6 knots. The wind has settled to SW overnight but still under 5 knots. There
was an exciting moment where it looked as though we were "on" as the wind
jumped up to 8.9 knots. But it turned out to be 3.9 knots and the needle
indicator was making the 3 look like an 8. Heyho.
I hear that some people (one or two crew family or relatives swmbo's
especially) have been a bit worried because the satellite tracking thing
loses connection, and we "vanish" from google earth. I suppose I knew that
this might be an issue. Latest is that the password has changed or
something, and again, we've disappeared. But we haven't disappeared a all.
The actual device on the boat is a non-commercially available thing from one
of Stingo's mates, something to do with lovely people a GlobalTrack who feed
the signal I think. Stingo kindly loaned it to me by sending the whole
kaboodle by Fedex from South Africa. It's not a safety indicator, though,
really. It looks like a smoke detector and plugs into a 4-way cigarette
lighter socket I got from Halfords for £9.99. That 4-way adapter is plugged
into the 12v adapter, whilst the detector itself sits outside on top of the
saloon, wire through the hatch. It is not easy to see if it's working,
impossible to see if not working, and quite easy to disconnect accidentally.
So, the point is that it's perhaps the flakiest thing on the boat, hardly
ever checked, and we can't fix it if it goes wrong. There are loads of
reasons why it might not work, and almost none of those reasons are any
cause for concern. And even when it does work, the reason we jig about is
that we saw something interesting in the sea, or nearly caught a fish, or
went for a swim, or the autopilot decided to have a nap and the steering
drifted us towards Africa, or (usually) because changing the direction is
quite interesting thing to do whilst on watch a bit, seeing if we can gain
half a knot, perhaps.
Of course, boating itself is inherently unreliable, subject to the vague
workings of wind and gear etc which might or might all work as we want. But
everyone is used to modern life with mobile phones able to keep life on
track, predictable t the last minute. On a boat, things like GPS -and
especially that tracking thing- gives some semblance or order with waypoints
and tracks and computers making it look all very orderly and far more under
control than it realyl is. Putting in waypoints, for example, shows that we'll
be back in the marina at 6::25pm for example, just as reliable as coming
home from work. But it isn't that reliable at all. We might get to Horta in
a week, or ten days or a fortnight. We might be able to send some more
emails on the sat phone, or not, and the tracker thing might be working, or
(easily more likely than any other failure) it might not.
Other stuff. This "mother watch"system proposed by Zefender is working well
although perhaps getting a touch out of hand. Four of us, 3 hours on watch,
6 hours off, and one person each day is "mother"and does all the cooking and
domestic stuff, no watches. First day, para made a nice melon/ham salad for
lunch, and tomato pasta for tea. Fine. He didn't wash up a pan but no big
deal really. Second day, LJS made waldorf salad for lunch and fab tuna pasta
and left the galley as new. Third day, Paddy made fishy stew from para's
fish for lunch, beef stroganoff for tea, hoovered up and cleaned the loos.
Fourth day, I had to up the ante with lobster sauce on fish and baked apple
dessert, made mohitos in the afternoon, washed the cockpit and did the loos
AND folded the bog paper in pwc's cabin. Hah! But then para made actual real
bread the next day, and clever sauce for more fish from a real recipe book
too. Yesterday, LJS was seen hunting around for cocktail sticks for
afternoon apple and cheese nibbles. It's all getting a bit out of hand, but
wil have t come crashing down to earth as there is a lot of pasta and jars
of tomato sauce packets.
Fishing wise, I'm afraid para and I have reviewed pwc's position this
morning. He's had a run of bad form , and so, very reluctantly, I have put
my own fishing rod out whilst he's in bed. So he's lost his spot. But the
fact is he's had that starboard fishing station for five days just hasn't
got the results we expected. He is trying to retrieve things with a single
deep line to catch something very large and leapfrog to top of the league.
My fishing rod is a work of art. Or at least, it was a work of art until I
sawed it down to three feet long so it would fit in an bag to get it to UK
on Easyjet back from France. If this works I expect the others will get the
hacksaw out as well and try the sawn-of fishing rd as well.
Meanwhile I am still on watch. Being on watch mainly means looking at the
Raymarine E80 screen. We have chart overlaid with radar and AIS. AIS is
quite good because it shows the position of any big ships which all have to
have AIS system fitted, and they transmit all their details so you can be
nosey and see where they're going, such as the Bulgaria recently going to
Houston, due there on the 10th May. It could be a bit more detailed though,
as it only shows it is carrying "cargo"whereas I want to know what the cargo
actually is, and perhaps the names of the crew as well, how old they are if
it's their birthday perhaps, that sort of thing.
Seriously though, is this E80 stuff supposed to be any good? It works, but
the operation is a bit kludgy, as though written in COBOL in 1978, and now
with added colour. Although we've trawled through manuals and waypoints I
can't get the cursor to "snap" to gridlines or waypoints which is painful. A
list of waypoints shows just that, no distances to them, and no "nearest
waypoints" so no going somewhere a second time and getting a list of nearest
waypoints, vital unless you remember the exact name of them all. It does
seem that modern handheld chart plotters (or even quite old ones actually
like that Garmin 175) are a lot slicker. Even the graphics is a bit weird -
the other day I had a fright as there was suddenly what looked like a
positive radar hit *very* near the boat. Nothing visible so I zoomed in to
find that at closer magnification it was. a red box/waypoint put there
earlier in the day! Grr.
That's enough for the moment. The wind is still a couple of days away.
Sunday to Tuesday should be quite quick. Meanwhile we're motoring, 150 miles
a day, plenty of fuel, used about 200litres (out of 1100) up to yesterday.