Day 6 - Birds and Knots

Digiboat's "Product Testing"
Simon Blundell
Tue 11 Oct 2011 12:00
20°00.9402N 116°22.9976E
Tues 11/10 1750
OK wind overnight and this morning kept us on course. Dropped off this afternoon, so motorsailing with the jib furled and a couple of reefs in the main to ease its flogging. Seas still confused but slightly calmer today.
Dodged storms all last night, weaved our way through blotch after blotch on the radar (guess there's a more technical term for the "blotches" on the radar that indicate rain??) but clear skies and sunshine today.
Of course I meant Aviary, not Avery, the post before last - don't use spell check late at night without glasses on!
It's been an ornithologist's dream onboard the last few days. The different species that have joined us number more than a dozen. Even a pidgeon dropped in today, complete with leg-tags. Evan was last seen fattening him up for dinner. The "Hitchhiker" bird (the white craney thing) has been renamed the "Murder Bird". It pounced on a tired migrating swallow, killed it, then spent an hour or so breaking its bones until it could fit it in its mouth. I have previously mentioned that any migrating birds that land don't last the night - Darwin never intended these to breed. But still, there are better ways to go. Anyway, the Murder Bird has been hussled off the boat, now that it's eating, it leaves more solid remnants on the deck.
Just before sunset, we started the Inaugral El Oro Knot Tying Guild Competition.
As background, there is in fact an International Knots Tyers Guild (google them), who hold competitions every so often which is a time-trial to tie the 6 basic ship's knots (bowline, reef, clove hitch, round turn and two half hitches, figure 8, sheet bend). As memory serves, the unofficial record is around 4 seconds to tie all 6 knots. The holder is long passed, but his daughter recalls, as a kid, that her father practiced all the time. While dinner was being prep'ed he'd have his 6 cords draped over the back of a chair, lift one tie a knot, drop it, lift the next etc. She remembers he was doing it so fast that two cords would still be in the air while he's tying the third knot!
Back to our humble inaugral event - I was seeing far too many non-knots (or as I call them NASA Knots because they need a team of NASA scientists to untie them) around the boat, so time to ensure that the crew, and certainly the cadets, know what are knots and how to tie them.
(Evan grew up on a classic Fife schooner - Sunshine - from the 18th Century, so he does have a few knots not commonly seen).
We first started today checking that everyone could tie the six knots, a brief practice session, then each was timed to tie all six. Results varied from 1-2 minutes. There's now 24 hrs to practice, then tomorrow sunset is the finals, each will get two timed goes, fastest to count. Quickest overall will be the Inaugral El Oro Knot Tying Guild Champion. (I didn't have a time trial today because (1) I know how to tie the knots, and (2) after nearly 50 yrs I don't think another 24 hrs will improve my speed at this).
Expect to get into the trade wind band sometime through the night. Current forecast has it at 20-25kn and just aft-a-beam. Looking forward to that!