ARC 2015 - Day 11 - December 2nd - Something is Missing

Steve and Lynda Cooke
Wed 2 Dec 2015 19:07
18:40N 34:20W

Day 11 | Dec 2

Something is missing

As we approach the middle of our second week at sea we experience another beautiful day with fair winds and excellent progress towards our goal in St Lucia. Our goose winged mainsail and foresail work well and Steve is particularly pleased by a trick he has employed to let off the clew of the foresail by a meter or so to give it a little belly. This makes our set more forgiving to small variations to the wind direction and we can turn 20 degrees into the wind taking our heading close to the rhumb line for St Lucia. Progress seems effortless, in fact we have little reason to adjust for the whole day.

Kurt our SSB is misbehaving again and is missing in action. For the past week we have overcome a locking-up problem by pulling the plug on the head unit and then replacing it, which has allowed us to switch the SSB off and restart successfully. The alternative being a complete restart of all our systems which we are reluctant to do when George (our autohelm) is doing such a good job. We decide to live without Kurt for at least another day. This is not as great a sacrifice as it may seem because we have not been able to participate in the SSB net at all so far due to poor reception. As part of our multiple fail safes we can download routing information via the satellite system.

We also realise that we have not heard anything at all over the VHF system for two days. The range is limited by line of sight and we have not seen any other vessels either. We try a late night call without success. Although we know there are many other fellow travellers not too far away it is the vastness of this ocean that means it appears we are alone.

Frank undertakes his laundry becoming another successful user of the washing lines strung on the arch at the back of Nina. Mike is missing away in his cabin with Libby Purves. Her book 'One Summers Grace' is rapidly ascending the reading list aboard Nina. Chris plugs his ipad into our music system and we are treated to an eclectic selection of new and interesting tracks including some from a playlist from one of his gigs.

Our intrepid fishermen launch their carefully constructed lures into the sea in the hope of catching a fish. The lines trail out two or three swell lengths behind Nina for many hours during the day. Mark has constructed a special lure (Larry) from the remains of a plastic drinks bottle. It creates a commotion on the surface of the waves designed to attract attention. One or two passing birds spot Larry but fortunately are not deceived and pull out of their dives on realising it's not that tasty. On the other hand Steve has adapted a pair of pink squigglies in a more conventional design. Both have set up mechanisms to take the snatch out of any initial pull from a caught fish. Late afternoon Mark reels in his line so we can point into wind in order to put in a reef to the mainsail. No takers. Towards dusk Steve reels his line in to find his squiggles have been cleanly taken off, breaking under a load in excess of sixty pounds. Our imaginations immediately set to work on the dimensions of the one that got away. We console ourselves that it was probably too big for us to handle safely. Later on a suicidal flying fish lands on the deck: photo opportunity for Mark!

So lots of things missing today but the final act is left to the moon on the 8pm-midnight watch. We seem to be hurtling into the darkness at great speed which is disconcerting at first. Normally the moon lights our way giving subtle shading to the clouds which we suspect may harbour squalls requiring us to reef. On the other hand the stars have never shone so brightly nor in as a great a profusion. Our familiarity is improving with each passing night and we even look out for old friends including one bright object we believe is the space station.

On reflection the main thing missing is another day on our sojourn that will never come back but Day 11 has left us with more memories which will last a lifetime.

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