Wednesday 12th October 0955 UTC 1055
Wind: 15 knots NNW, COG 332 Deg True, SOG 6.8
Lat night was a very busy night. The strategy to
head up to the beach worked fine and set me fairer for my long upwind beat
to Gran Canaria.
I however had to be alert on two counts. This plan would put me right in the
middle of the shipping lanes and extra care on two counts needed to be
taken with "locals". That is perhaps those fishing but also the new and
additional concern highlighted by Rhiann's communique yesterday of a piracy
threat in the region.
Indeed the shipping was heavy and allowed almost no
possibility of sleep. I used my trick up drifting into a sleep while standing
up. In this case because of our heavy angle of heel, leaning over the arm of the
nav seat. As you drift into slumber the knees buckle and in this case they knock
against the under nav-seat locker door and wakes you. This works very well and
half a dozen drifts like that and you will get another hour. I needed it
all as we were at close quarters almost all night, tacking in and out of the way
of ships. Whenever there was a predicted close approach I simply radioed and all
watchkeeprs were understanding. Some never answered at all, I presume because of
a difficulty with English, but in each case they took the desired and obvious
avoiding action anyway.
Most of the larger ship had AIS too which is a big
help, but a significant number of large vessels, sometimes very large and I
presume Mauritanian, did not. The difficulty is that without the ships
name supplied by AIS due to language difficulties it is more difficult to
get a "ship in position......" to respond.
At one point one such ship which had been hovering
around behind me for an hour or so began to directly follow me and was
closing on me - down to four miles. I switched off all navigation lights and
made sure that the EPIRB was at the ready. Eventually afte about an hour and a
half they pulled away....................
By very early morning I cleared most of the thick
of the shipping lane on my outward north westerly tack and was able to get
a few cat naps. The angle of heel is severe though as I am hard on the wind
which in the morning was up to 25 knots. The pitching and slamming too made it
very difficult to nap.
Anyway a new day a new dawn and I am
continuing to grind down the miles. Five per hour made good to my
Aboard Rhiann Marie we have 3 fuel tanks 900L each
side and 425 in the centre. I also have two water tanks 700 L each
side. Everything was full leaving South Africa, some 3.5 tonnes of ballast!
The generator pulls from the port fuel tank. Up until the Doldrums we had used
almost no fuel at all except that required to run the generator and the heating
system when we initially left Capetown. So when we got to the Doldrums I
hoped that possibly I would use three days of fuel but hopefully only two.
eventually all Starboard tank was used and mid, just over three days usaege all
in all since leaving Capetown on 10th September.
As I knew I would be using fuel from the port tank
in the early part of the passage for heating and generator consumption I elected
to use the starboard water tank to keep ballast balanced. When I started
motoring in the Doldrums I used starboard fuel tank so as to preserve the use of
the generator from the port tank for as long as possible in all
After being at sea for over a month now the
water from the starboard tank is also very low. However I wanted to continue to
run it to empty so that I could refill it from the watermaker with good
pure water............. are you following all this?
So we ended up with neither fuel nor very much
water in the starboard side of the boat. So this morning in order to
redistribute, evenly, the boat ballast I ran off half a tank of water from the
port side and started the generator - we were needing to charge batteries
anyway, and set the watermaker going. After six hours or so of running the
generator (this morning and perhaps this evening or tomorrow morning) I will
have 700 litres of water to re balance the fuel and a little bit of water I left
in the port side.
And then........... well yes, then I will be able
to sail just as well on starboard tack as I can on port tack. Because at
the moment I have some very long tacks to make on starboard.
So it is very busy aboard. Last night I made three
nights meals - some concoction with noodles, green curry, coconut milk and
chicken plus whatever else was lying around.
I have to confess this is probably going to be
quite tiring, the biggest strain is only making five knots or so towards my
destination. I am currently pointing at the Azores.............
Last night the VHF show was just unbeleivable. It
went on all night - on channel 16. I think there will soon be a ruling to have
VHF output recorded and sampled as this carry on is completely out of control.
The latest addition to the pathetic repetoire is to hold conversations in made
up "gobbledegook" normally "Chinesish" sounding. This will bait someone to cut
in cursing "you fxxxing Chinese" to get off the radio and switch channel.
"Why should we switch channel they will try to engage the Russian, who
eventually just erupts in a volley of profanities. Silence. Then it starts
again always slowly at first maybe the next ploy is trying to sound like a
serious Radio operator. "Delta Kilo!" "Delta Kilo!"............ "Delta Kilo
Charlie Bravo" this goes on descemnding into a selection of bizarre styles until
eventually it becomes unintelligible. Silence. Then it starts again in a
Then there's the whistling, pretending (I think) to
be very good and whistle some classic tune but just annoyingly bad to drive
one berserk and for sure someone will cut in. Mock operatic singing too. The
Filipinos they always get the blame. "Fxxxing Filipino Monkey + some abuse
about the mother of the operator on the other end. Then there is the baiting of
the Filipinos and a new one "Banana! Banana" "Banana no good....." "One banana,
two banana, three ........ " Screeching,wailing, you name it.
Anything but legitimate calling.
This makes any small opportunity to sleep even more
difficult as I have to have the VHF turned up reasonably loud as part of my
defence startegy. I have two radar alarms, and AIS alarrm, a wake up alarm
on the plotter, a wake up alarm on the Ifone at my ear which also
vibrates and off course the VHF should anyone wish to call me.
All of this is just safeguarding as of course a
visual is kept between naps if I can get them and once a "target" is
located it is a question of following that all the way until it is past and
clear...... if I can't quite do that without sleeping then I use the standing up
Anyway this was going to be a short blog as I am
very busy and very tired. We'll try and make it short and
uneventful tomorrow. Aarrrrgh! Only four measly lousy bloody knots of VMG.
I have to go and tweak something - I don't know what