I apologise for the delay in writing this log, but today is about the first
time I have been able to find the time. The first few days I was a sick as a
pig and yesterday afternoon, which was the first time I really felt OK, the
wind was at about 20-25knts and we had Maximus up, that meant I couldn't
leave the wheel. By the time we dropped Maximus at 11pm at late dusk I was
I am getting confused over time because we are running a four on, four off
watch. That means that we have two teams on board: Starboard Watch, which is
Me as leader with Anthony and Mark, ( Bon-Bon ) and a Port Watch which
consists Trevor as leader with Mike and Rupert. Starboard is on fron 14.00
to 18.00, then 22.00 to 02.00 then06.00 t0 10.00. It is a system that I
decided upon. I was part of a crew that crossed the Atlantic in 1990 and
sailed under such a watch.
Anyway I am getting confused over times and dates because there are now
loads of , "Wake Ups " in one day and it's hard to remember what day it is.
The start of the trip saw very light winds, barely enough for us to sail
really. We started at 9am from Plymouth inner harbour. I purposely stayed
away from the crush at the start line. There were 21 boats none of which I
knew the habits of and I didn't want tears at the start. We crossed within a
minute or so of the leaders and there were 3 or so behind us. The start was
hard on the wind in about 6knts. It barely pushed our laminate main into
shape, but in fact we quicly came up to the others. We seemed to point just
as high as most and were a shade faster, all boded well. Then within the
hour the wind died to 3 or 4 knts, we slowed to hardly anything. Half the
boats began motoring and so we did so too, the idea being to get out into
some wind. In the end we stayed under motor for 11 hours or so, I don't
recall exactly as I was off watch and sleeping when the sails were hoisted
In retrospect we made a mistake here. The rules are that we must register
daily our engine usage along with our position and then at the finish,
(Bayona) he commitee will apply a handicap to produce a time that reflects
the engine usage. Now, rebel doesn't carry that much diesel. Our tank is
175ltrs and we have 7 cans at 20ltrs each. We have twin engines that at
cruising revs and load give us 7-8 knts of speed at a consumption of 5litres
an hour. We know that even with our solar panels we will need to run our
engines each day or other day at least, so right at the start of a 650-700
mile journey I was reluctant to expend more fuel than was neccesary.
This being the case we ran one engine at 2000revs at 2.5ltrs per hour
consumption, about as efficient as we can be, but giving a speed of only 5
or so knots through the water. Other boats with greater deisel tanks ran
the engine or engines at cruising revs and so positively flew through the
water a 7 or so knts. Over 20 hours that makes a big difference to miles
covered. Rebel being a cat' needs to stay light and so is built with small
The mistake is that A, we lost miles at the beginning and B, that the
handicap doesn't take into account how fast or slow a boat goes under engine
and so we will be handicapped as if we motored hard.
It is no big deal really but I thought I would include it. The onward impact
has been that in general the winds have been 20knts or less and so catching
up has not been easy, the second day was very light and we barely beat
6knts. It took forever to get west of Ushant. Thoughout the whole time I was
unusually sea sick. Not actually vomiting but feeling very unwell and when
going below decks , it was as much as I could do to get my clothes off
before throwing up. Infact I slept fuuly clothed in the saloon upstairs and
didnt go into my cabin until Yesterday, ( about 3 wake ups ago ) Anthony was
laid out cold with sea sickness for 24hrs. He didn't move or drink for that
whole time and I began to worry about dehydration as he was particularly
productive when he sat up!!. In the end we got some Stugeron into him and a
miracle was effected. within half an hour he was up and about. Not only that
but he was cooking and bending down looking into lockers, which you may know
dear reader is an absolute invitation to chuck up. I never take sea sick
pills but on witnessing Anthony's miraculous recovery I took just a half.
Within 30m mins I was ,"Proper Job " again.
Sturgeron are now referred to as "Lazerus Pills" now among us, the phrase
having been coined by Bon-Bon who went to a posh school and is endowed with
a fine vocabulary and a wonderful turn of phrase.
Anthony and I now indulge in "'alf a Lazerus" at the start of each watch. I
am of course also taking my , "Greedy Pills" once a day, so called because
although they are prescibed for desperate heart burn, since taking them I
have been able to eat cakes and sweeties and bread and chocolate and a
myriad other acidic and unhealthy foods that pain disallowed previously. In
short my friends found they had made me greedy and thereby came the name.
And indeed a tubby issue which I am yet to master.
Where was I...Oh yes How it was I came to be writing the log this specific
wake-up. Any way, forget that, the watch have just sighted Dolphins.
Yesterday we decided to put the big Parasailor up and we sped along at
between 8 and 11knts. The fastest surge was 13knts and there were many 12's.
The day started grey and half way through speaking to Mark who was next to
me I finally gave up and unleashed breakfast and more onto the deck. The
crew all cheered and thereafter numerous imitations of chocking Mackerel and
squawking seals occurred by way of endearment, but then came the afore said
Lazerus moment and I was transformed. It was our best run so far, we left
the big sail up till near dark the unfurled the gennaker and ran that till
about 1am. It was at this time that we sailed over the edge of the
continental shelf. The waves got steeper and bigger and in the pitch dark we
had a few "Sleigh Rides", this is when you get picked up by a big wave and
sledge down the face at big speed, we went from 5.5knts to 12.5knts in a
few boat lengths, this occurred 3 or 4 times and then given it was black at
night, we were all tired and we were unsure of what might develop next I
sent the Genniker down and we unfurled the standard genoa which is smaller
and more controllable. this brought the speed to 7-9knts and I felt that was
fine. We went off watch at 2am in about 20knts of NE breeze. When I awoke
next the Genniker was back up as things had calmed down a bit and also dawn
was with us. Starboard watch sent down the Genny and hoisted up Maximus the
big spinnaker. This has flown all day and I think brings us to date.
Night watches are busy as there is always something on the radar. if it is
other yachts then generally it is a thing of interest but if it is a fishing
boat or a ship then it is more serious. We had a fishing boat trawling and
had to change course. But all the ships so far have clearly seen us on their
better radars and positioned themselves safely before they enter our range.
Still one has to watch carefully because they move so quickly.
The AIS, ( Automatic ID System ) device that I fitted is now proving its
worth. We have it on 24-7. It is a screen that shows any ship , so fitted
with the AIS system of 300tons or over. The screen shows like our real radar
with us at the centre and ships marked on rings of distance from us. Each
ship can be "buttoned on" and then the ships name, size speed and direction
as well as distance off is displayed. THis is a great comfort because you
immediately know what the huge great thing is doing and if you are in its
way. Further having its name means we can call it on VHF give it our
position and let it know we are here. Given the recent tradgedy off the Isle
of Wight this ability to communicate quickly and accurately is all the more
appreciated. Well done Skipper.
Watermaker is now in use , we put a third of a tank in over 2.5hrs. about
100ltrs, so that again is now proving valuable. It allows us to carry only
minmum needed drinking water and to make the remainder as we need it.
Basically it pushes seawater through a series of very fine filters and
renders the water drinkable. It makes 32ltrs per hour and is very quiet.
uses 13 amps while running.so we run it only at midday so the panels can
recharge the batteries , or when an engine is running so that the
alternators can push in loads of bananas.
I need to relate a funny tale here. We have our spinnaker in a snuffer as
previuosly mentioned. It is a long textile tube that effectively "Snuffs"
the sail. At its mouth is large oval kevlar collar that guides the sail
cloth up into the snuffing tube, so... there we were, we needed the great
Maximus down a bit sharpish as the wind was getting up. I was on the wheel
overseeing operations, Trevor was at the snuffer line pull the sleeve down
over the sail. This was Maximus and it was nearly dark, in 25knts of true
wind on the foredeck. So I asked Mike to go forward to gather in the sail as
it collapsed, this would prevent the length from draping itself over the
forward rails and getting torn up etc. So Trevor is snuffing, Mike is
creeping forward gathering the loose sail into his arms as it all collapses.
The kevlar mouth came down straight over the gathered sail as it should and
straight over Mikes head and shoulders, It was a MR Bean and the Turkey
moment. Trev immediatley unsnuffed him. But for a second or so before we
could make out what had happened Mike was snuffed to below the chest, I
suppose a possibly dangerous situation. With Mike disorientated and unable
to move. Still it was a hoot minutes after and has given rise as expected to
many, " who turned the lights off" type jokes.
We have had 3 pigeons on board and two roosted on the parasailor for hours,
how is that as a statement of spinnaker stability. Our SSB receiver isn't
working properly and we put that down to the folowing: when we tried then
radio out, we were in port on the mooring with the engines off. We nattliy
used the solid guard rails as the receiver aerial. Now however we use the
engine and can only get white noise when we try the radio, but also, now
that we are sailing we have wet sheets tied along the guardrails as part and
parcel of sailing. This might be grounding the rails and earthing away our
reception. All is not lost because we can still get reception when we
release the radio from its cradle, take it upstairs and use its 10p aerial.
A job for when we get to Bayona.
As we approach Bayona I am asking yachts ahead of us to keep us updated as
to wind and sea conditions Cape Finnestaire is notorious for strong winds,
generally 3 or 4 beaufort scales stronger than the surounding sea area.
Currently Finnestaire is F9, we are F4. I do not want to get tangled up in
F9. Our plan is to sail to a point about 50 miles West of the Cape then sail
South to the Latitude of Bayona then sail East to get in, however if the
Cape is in a good mood, then to cut the corner would save at least 12hrs.
Mmmmm...The more info I can get the better will be my decision. I will err
on the side of caution of course, but it would feel impishly good to steal
in at the last post. If it meant that we arrived in daylight that would also
be of great benefit, I don't want to stand off, because it is known to be
busy with fishing vessels and shipping, not the kind of place to while away
a long night when we are all tired anyway. Still we will watch our progress,
hoover up any info we can get and decide later.
I have now spent most of my off-watch time writing this and the time is now
8.30pm, I am back on at 10pm till 2am. Bugger.
Other successes have been the super duper Spinlock Lifejackets and all the
warm clothing, none of us has seen our underwear since we left Plymouth, I
don't mean we can't find it, I mean that we haven't taken off the layers. I
have slept every night with my hat on, and my oilskin trousers. ( Henri
Loydd in graphite ) round my ankles so as to facilitate a quick on deck if
needed, I have only taken off my right boot to warm up my foot, the left has
been booted with 2 layers of socks since Plymouth. We have seen the sun a
few times for an hour or so at a time, then bad viz comes down and it is
cold and damp again. I have got lots of sticky bits. But I can sort them out
The Mardale "ARC Tops" in black with Birch embroidered Logos are perfect,
not only do we look delicious but they are worn nonstop, literally. Thats
about it for now.
On board today people 'ave mostly been doing seal impressions.
We have utterly destroyed a Colette ginger cake, carrot cake, some more
bread pudding today
and tonight is pork with stir fry veggies, all precooked and frozen by Top
Totty Colette. All have put on at least a stone, but curiously few have
passed anything since we set out. It may end in tears and a big mess. I am
getting scared to relax.
As I have been writing this the radio has been carrying discussions on the
Finastaire issue, some boats it seems are contemplating going inside. I will
get their names and stay in touch with them, I have it in mind to use them
like the Zulu Chief at Rorkes Drift to test enemy rifle range.
I dreamed of country cottages this morning and honeysuckle.