PINBALL WIZARD - DAY 15 8 Feb 2012

Nigel North
Wed 8 Feb 2012 18:06

Position:  17:14.24N 38:07.28W

DAY 15 Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Yesterday dawned grey and misty, with a strong E wind and a fair swell running, the mist staying with us all day. But as the day wore on, the sea state increased and winds were gusting up to over 30kts and rarely less than 24kts. By late pm the seas were running at 3-5m coming up from astern and accelerating PW in a great surge of power before dropping back into the dip behind - exhilarating, but scary too for us novices at ocean sailing. But the problem was that every now and then one of these big waves would push the stern round and we would begin to broach - and the one thing you don’t want is to end up broadside on to the next set of waves. Not good! Archie the self steering gear has been doing a brilliant job, and we’ve barely touched the wheel, but when a wave shoves you round it take time for Archie to bring the bow back onto course and sometimes there just isn’t this time. So that’s when the crew have to jump in, disconnect Archie and manually steer for a while. Not a problem, but it does mean that we must be watching for this and be in a position to take over, and therefore can’t relax much. So yesterday was a hard day and quite tiring for us, especially that night with the hatch closed and boards in the companionway to maintain watertight integrity..just in case.

And with those kind of seas running, its very difficult to do anything down below in the cabin as it is being flung about quite violently - anything that can move, does, and the noise of plates rattling, pots clunking, and the entire contents of the nav table sliding to and fro inside takes some getting used to. So it may seem strange that it was on this day that it was decided that I should bake some bread. As it’s a first time for me, I needed the menu stuck next to the cooker - thanks SP!

By the time the flour was poured out, 10% had slid off the tray into the sink, so it was hard work but had to be done - our Canarian bread had finally run out after 3 weeks unrefrigerated yet still in good condition. As conditions outside were pretty demanding and we were a bit knackered, the new bread was left overnight to rise and await the oven in the morning. Not knowing how long to cook it, I went on Alfie’s 1.5 hours suggestion, and out came two bricks. (He calls them loaves, I call them bread sticks). They reminded me of that German bread you can get, you know the sort you can build houses with. The bread knife had little effect on it, but finally sawed through, and in fact the bread wasn’t too bad considering it had been murdered in the oven. Next ones will be better!

But today started with a line of squally showers coming up from astern, the first of which took the wind from a sedate 15kts to 35kts in minutes - so a heavy reef was rolled onto the genoa which calmed things down, and several more squalls followed. But by mid am the sun broke through and the showers died away, the Musto kit put away, and today has been much more pleasant. The sea has turned from angry grey to a pleasant azure, the waves - still big - aren’t scaring us anymore (maybe we’re just getting used to them) and Archie has been performing well and required no human interference. Alfie has been writing up his notes on the trip, and spotting flying fish (flying) - I’ve seen one, and he’s seen about sixty - and I’ve been dangling legs in the bow-wave. Its so warm! 27 degrees!

I think we were both rather surprised at just how big the waves would be once in the conveyor belt of the Trade winds, but this is after all, an ocean. It does have a mesmerising effect, watching as they build astern its difficult to take your eyes off them, so we’ve both got cricked necks from looking, and I’ve had to remind the crew that we’re supposed to be looking where we’re going as well.

Sightings: Seaweed - clumps of it - flying fish, unidentified birds, squalls, lots of sea, big waves, beards, smiles.

Not sighted: Ships, yachts, dolphins, sharks (Soz Rosie), giant cephalopods, mermaids, Tesco.

Numbers: Daily Distances: Sun 5th 25nm, Mon 6th 125nm, Tue 7th 134nm

Best wishes from the Pinball Crew!