Half way tomorrow
Friday 30th December
We are still trucking westward, our position at noon today will be about 16:18.00N 42:40.00W. The sea conditions have improved considerably, and we are running with two reefs in the main and a poled-out genoa making between five knots in the lighter spells of wind and seven or eight knots when the wind goes up to the mid-twenties. We could put up more sail in the lulls but could then be over-pressed in the sqally spells which don’t last long, are usually accompanied by rain and heralded by grey clouds rolling up from astern. We are still hand steering around the clock. The poled-out genoa rig is very good: safe and stable almost dead down wind – we do have a preventer on the main boom too – but the poled genoa is a slight disincentive to reef and un-reef as often as we should.
The solar panels have been pretty impressive and on clear sunny days can keep up with demand from the fridge, instruments and lights and even boil a kettle using the inverter (during the day) but in the current, overcast conditions, I also run the generator occasionally to keep the batteries up.
By tomorrow midday we will be very close to our halfway point with about 1100 mile to go. The weather looks set to go lighter so our average speed of between 140 and 155 miles per day may drop. Our bananas, very green when purchased in Mindelo, are on their last legs and are already dropping from the hook hanging them on the Bimini frame. There is talk of banana bread being made but no sign yet.
We are murdering flying fish as at distressing rate with one or two dead on the deck most mornings. They are amazing to see as they skitter away from us flying fifty meters or so and change course in mid-air. The ones that end up on the deck just go the wrong way in the dark.
I made some bread yesterday and while not spectacular, it was more successful than the first attempt which didn’t rise and cooked like a ship’s biscuit. This second attempt did at least rise when I put the dough in the cabinet with fridge motor to ‘prove’ but then didn’t rise much more in the baking tins and the loaves were only about two inches high. However, the product was crisp outside, soft in the middle and quite bread-like and has met with approval from the shipmates. We toasted some of it for breakfast this morning when the generator was on. This batch of dough was very sticky – I may have added too much warm water? I wish I had thought to practice making dough by hand before leaving home.
I also wish I had practiced fishing; we have towed a line with a variety of lures for long periods some days but with absolutely no success. We do catch a bit of sargassum weed some days. The weed is not as concentrated as we found approaching Cabo Verde from the north, but it does seem to be everywhere.
I’m currently trying to email the Hydrovane people about getting a replacement rudder sent to the Caribbean but I think they must be shut down for the Christmas break.
Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve so we wish everyone a Happy New Year. We’ll probably save all our Festive and New Year celebrations and roll them into an arrival party at Grenada.
Tony, Brian and Morag