Trundling along

Silver Bear
Ray Lawry
Tue 8 Dec 2009 14:23
15:27.3160N 48:51.0470W
Last evening brought another successful yacht to yacht transfer of tuna, fresh fruit and films in exchange for hob nobs and music albums - getting up-to-date with the likes of Morcheeba (or something like that) but draw the line at Slip-knot!
The seas have quietened down slightly so the boys on Starfire have raised the bigger twin foresails to get  them going faster in the reduced winds. Alan is a sailmaker and has an impressive assortment of sails to choose from, both boys are excellent helmsman and are showing their skills when the opportunity presents itself. The problem is the temporary rudder is no bigger than is to be found on a dinghy and a lot less efficient, so as soon as the swell builds or the sea gets messy they have to slow down to preserve the jury rig. Even with the restrictions they have managed days approaching 150nm. The worst day, so far has been 70nm in 24 hours. This means we are down to our smallest foresail alone making around 4 to 5 knots and because we are unbalanced and not sailing fast enough the conditions are most uncomfortable. However for now they're great and last night we were surfing along at over 7 knots having a great time. The fantastic sun rises day after day and the hot breezy weather conditions are perfect compensators. We would only be lounging around in a bar, beach or swimming pool if we were in St Lucia. This is far more rufty tuftty- Ali says she doesn't want rufty tuffty she wants the bar, beach and pampering- this could cost me.
The smell of fresh bread most days and the excellent food we have enjoyed have been tremendous morale boosters. This is, in no small way, down to Ali's planning and the Marks and Spencers canned food. Expensive but worth every penny. Meal times are a bit of a challenge, getting the food to the cockpit is like carrying a tray of drinks whilst in a ride from Alton Towers. The boat is in a particularly grubby state as are we. Showering consists of pouring buckets of seawater over our heads, except for Ali who has managed a more ladylike approach with solar shower, which itself is difficult on a slippery soapy deck.
Another development has seen the demise of the autohelm which has given up and refuses to work (it seems the clutch or drive mechanism is broken). This means the last 1200nm has, or will have to be, steered by hand. Three hour watches at night and regular short turns through the day when the sun is at its hottest.
And finally the hinges have snapped off the toilet seat. So using the toilet whilst being buffetted from side to side and fore and aft is once again like being at Alton Towers theme park, but with more at stake!
Finally, finally for this blog- quote of the day from Ali who is currently at the helm "to be honest I'm thouroughly looking forward to going home to the freezing cold". There's gratitude!
Thanks to everyone for sending messages and updating us with news from home. Sorry I ca'nt reply individually but we are restricted by Sat Phone minutes.