Four days at sea

Fri 3 Jan 2014 04:23
23:00.6N 23:10.6W
So, it's evening now (21:00 GMT) and we've been at sea pretty much four
days. A routine has certainly kicked in, but I wasn't expecting it to
involve a dinner around the table for the four of us every evening. I have
left the other guys finishing supper of Rye bread and salami and the second
of our two
allotted cans of beer a day each to say a little of how the first few days
have been.
As I say, we have found our routine - not just with watches, but also with
meal times and what we get up to during the rest of the time. Our watches
are working out really well - we do two hour long watches at night and three
hour watches during the day. This means that if we're lucky we can get up to
8 hours off, time to eat, sleep, read... In reality, the daytime watches are
often shared with others. Over the last two days, and having caught up on
the sleepless first nights, we all seem to congregate late morning and then
have lunch together, before catching some sleep during the afternoon. Early
evening we all tend to be around again and have dinner together every
evening. On New Year's Eve this included an improvised two course meal and
bottle of bubbly! We also sent a brief email to our wives that evening and
it was great do receive one back from Caroline.

It's been two full days since we've seen another vessel. The only sign of
life have been a couple of turtles which were heading eastwards, but apart
from that there is nothing but lots of ocean and lots of sky. The weather
(and sea temperature, although we haven't tested it) have increased
noticeably, with a reading of 24C inside the cabin at lunchtime today. The
wind continues to blow from almost due east and even its strength has always
been a good force four or five. Yesterday we raised the gennaker for the
first time and are now (during daylight hours) 'butterflying' our way south
westwards. That means that we have the 'normal' sail, the genoa, on the port
side from the bow and the much larger, spinnaker-like gennaker to the
starboard side from the bow. The waves are a little less than I had
anticipated, but we are 'only' about 300 miles off the west coast of Africa,
so they may still grow in size as we head out into the middle of the

We keep a logbook where we note our position, heading and speed every few
hours and plot our position on a physical chart at noon every day - although
keeping two times on board now, as confused matters. To acclimatise
ourselves to the right time when we arrive in the Caribbean and also to keep
a broadly sensible time regarding sunrise and sunset, we have moved our
'local' time back by an hour. For everything 'official' though, such as log
book entries, we will stay on UTC. Plotting our progress on the chart has
been a reality check - until this morning we were heading more towards the
Cape Verde Islands with the African coast only a couple of hundred miles
away. A whole lot of chart lies between us and the Caribbean. Today's
position was a little better as there is a notable distance to the Canaries
and Africa now. We've run about 550 miles - around a fifth of the total.

I had my first baking session yesterday, having lugged 6 kilos of '00' flour
and plenty of dried yeast from the UK. Suffice to say that the dough rises
better here than it does in our chilly house at home and despite the oven
door not closing because the pizza bases I had brought being too large, we
enjoyed a couple of Ciabattas with our dinner of lamb (the last of the fresh
meat) yesterday evening and the rest with scrambled egg and bacon made by
Stefan for lunch today.

You can see that we are living well and enjoying ourselves. There are also
hours of eeriness and perhaps a little boredom, though. The night sky is
spectacular with more stars than you can count, but getting up for a two
hour watch at 02:00 is nonetheless challenging. Still, as we are all
settling in, though, much of that time is spent reading or writing our
diaries, whilst heading into the cockpit every 10 minutes to have a good
look around for lights (or anything else, for that matter!). All of us also
spend a lot of time thinking about our wives and children... Stefan has just
shown us some videos Cora made for him to watch on the journey.

I will be heading to bed now and leave Papi to his watch. Christian has
already gone and Stefan is about to. I'm back on duty at 02:00.

Until soon,