It was the best of days, it was the worst of
days... you know the sort: you catch a fish but there's no wind. It's a clear
night, but there's a nasty rolly sea.
We're making good progress. Alex said jubilantly a
moment ago: "We're just 15 minutes late." We plan all our passages on the basis
that we do 5 knots over the ground on average. We began at 8 this morning and at
8.15 in the evening, we hit the 60 mile mark. At this rate, we should make
landfall at first light on Saturday.
Barely able to contain my excitement, we caught a
fish a little before the sun set. For once, he wasn't an albacore, but one of
the resplendent canary yellow and turquoise beasts that some call a Wahu. He may
also have been a Pompano Dolphinfish, but it's hard to be sure without a book.
Last year when we caught a similar fish on Tilly Mint's passage to the Canaries,
we put the hook over the side again immediately and got straight into his
companion because they travel in pairs. Knowing the limits of our fish-eating
capacity, we didn't have the heart to do that this time.
There's very little wind, as I mentioned. We tried
to hoist the spinnaker earlier, but there was too little for even that to fly.
Then the rope that pulls a sort of sock down over the sail to 'snuff' it for
lowering got wrapped around the crosstrees. Alex had to winch me up the mast in
the bosun's chair - no mean feat just after a big lunch. I'm beginning to think
that the snuffer is more trouble than it's worth.
So, we've been donking gently along. There was a
lot of shipping to pass through about 30 miles off Lisbon, but it's calmed down
a bit now. With luck, the night watch will be just me and the dulcet tones of
Peter Mandelson reading his tale of intrigue and scandal at Westminster...
through the ipod, I hasten to add - the Dark Lord himself hasn't stowed away on
9 o'clock and all's