Nigel North
Wed 1 Feb 2012 21:29
Position:  N19.13,57 W25.24,02

Wednesday, 1 February 2012


Yesterday we started turning more onto a westerly heading, not a sudden ‘Standby by to turn to starboard!’..sort of thing but a gradual shift onto West, as the decision was to keep going rather than stop in Cape Verde. The hope was that the winds - which were behind us then - would as a friendly gesture do likewise and follow us round. Well they didn’t so we got to the stage where we couldn’t turn any further with twin headsails on poles sticking out either side of the bow, as any further turn and one of them would backwind (wind on the wrong side). As removing poles from sails full of wind is a very exciting experience where anything can happen, we were reluctant to do this at night so put it off ‘til morning dawned (about 9am PW time), accepting the SW heading until then. With the poles stowed (relief) we could now turn for the Caribb, and as an experiment flew the heavy weather jib inside the Genoa in cutter rig, plus mainsail, plus the mizzen. This worked for a while, but later there were some prolonged gusts coming through overpowering the self steering, so now the main is reefed and mizzen stowed to give better balance in the gusts. Or in other words, we’ve been fiddling around with sails all day. I was expecting to be sailing downwind all the time, but not so! We’re actually on a broad reach which is bad luck for me as I keep falling out of the bunk with the heeling. Alfie’s alright, he’s on the other side..

But Alfie wasn’t so busy he didn’t see another Manx Shearwater dipping and diving between the waves. Obviously lost. Alfie’s feeling rather proud of himself today, as he had cause to remind the Skipper that when calculating the heading for Barbados he should take account of the 14 degrees of variation too. Smart**** Well at least I put my mug under the right taps.

Today was orange day. Our last orange was sacrificed at midday, cut into slices with the scary-sharp fish gutting knife and devoured…and very nice it was too. I just ate mine, but Alfie demonstrated his own technique of consumption, which involved inserting the whole piece like a gumshield and gnawing from within. I was waiting for an orange peel smile, but in vain.

Its always been dawn whenever I’ve joined Alfie in the cockpit at 8am after his stint on morning watch. But today it was dark for nearly an hour - a reminder to put the clocks back one hour every 15 degrees of longitude west. We’ll do this four times on the way across.

Cooking on board is a bit different. it’s a 2 burner cooker, gimballed, with grill and oven - just the same as any caravan but in stainless - but gas is at a premium and two burners has to be thought about sometimes. But one brilliant idea from Alf is bringing something to the boil then leaving it for a set time to cook, without further heat. Because we’re only 19deg north of the equator - South UK is 52 degrees north - and well south of the Tropic of Cancer, we are in the tropics for sure and things don’t go stone cold in minutes like at home. So this technique is useful. Boiled eggs for instance, can be brought to the boil, turned off and left for 5.5 minutes and they’re cooked. We tried 5 min today and it wasn’t enough. It certainly works with pasta too, as I found out last night. In the middle of cooking, the gas ran out so I had to go to the lazarette and connect a new cylinder, and by the time it was ready to go the pasta had cooked itself in disgust which put my master plan out completely.

We are at present being precious and having separate meals together. This is not because of what you might think, but because I bought a load of different tins of stuff from Tesco’s on Portland, some of it spicy, and the crew don’t like spicy. Got to be used up, as my old grandma would say!

As for sightings, we haven’t seen the following: Sharks. Flying fish. Giant cephalopods. Giant jellyfish. Any fish. Other yachts. Ships. Rain.

We have seen: a slice of pineapple. Wooden pallet.

Thankyou to those who responded to say that the position marking bit on the blog doesn’t seem to be working - I’ve emailed Mailasail and hopefully it will be fixed soon. You should be able to see a ‘breadcrumb trail’ of position points as each blog comes in.

Our position is about 150nm NNW of Cape Verde, and heading due west now.

Best wishes to all our readers! Haven’t you got anything BETTER to do!