Sailing - At Last

Noon Position: 28 39.9 N 014 53.5 W
Course: South sou' west Speed: 3 knots
Wind: South east, Gentle breeze
Weather: Sunny, warm
Day's Run: 47 miles

The wind started to pick up late in the afternoon. I had been sanding and painting earlier so decided here was a good opportunity to go for a swim and wash the dust off, then have a cockpit shower to wash the salt off before hoisting sail. The water was very refreshing, a perfect temperature, but I didn't loiter long. I confess I feel a bit nervous swimming out in the middle of the ocean by myself. no matter how much I tell myself that the risk of something nasty awaiting me under the boat is a million to one. After the dip I got sail up and we were soon close hauled on the starboard tack making a very pleasant three knots, the sails stabilising the boat against the low swell that was still rolling through.

We continued to enjoy a peaceful overnight sail, Sylph leaning ever so slightly to the breeze, but otherwise almost motionless, the sound of water gurgling past the hull and the gentle swish of the wake dropping off astern a perfect melody to fall asleep to, which seeing as I had to get up every 20 minutes or so was just as well. At four in the morning the wind had started to slowly die away again, by six I had given up, dropped all sail and returned to my bunk. At eight I poked my head on deck, there was a very faint air, I sniffed it for a bit then saw three racing boats to the west of me, two with big roachy mainsails and the third a cutter, very unusual for a racing yacht, but he was obviously doing well and keeping up with the more extreme racers. Well of course I couldn't sit there like a drifting derelict with boats sailing past me, no matter how slow and unfair the comparison between Sylph and these racing dinghies with keels bolted beneath; the sailor in me had sail quickly hoisted and sheets trimmed urging the best out of Sylph and her tired old sails. For a heavy displacement boat I have to say I am rarely disappointed in her performance. She kept the racers in sight for quite a while, until the wind shifted and we tacked away to make good our destination, while the racers continued on to the west. I wonder what the race was, where they came from and were going to?

Now the wind has picked up even more, still only a light breeze but more than we have had for many days, we are actually heeled over a good six degrees. The big decision to make this afternoon is whether to aim for Grand Canaria or Teneriffe. I think Gran Canaria is winning, it's a little closer and facilities sound good. If the wind holds we should be there early in the morning.

Meanwhile, down below, Bob Cat is moulting in the warmer weather. He reminds me of Pig Pen from the Peanuts comic strip, but instead of a cloud of dust following him everywhere it's a cloud of fine hair. I have started brushing him regularly but the amount of fur he sheds is amazing. Each evening I give my pillow and bedding a good brushing, but if he comes anywhere near me during the night I am soon snuffling with very fine hairs in the end of my nose. It's everywhere.

All is well.

Bob Cat:

It is getting a little warmer, time to shed these winter rags. Bit of a nuisance, but the brushings are very nice. Makes me feel quite relaxed and . . . Zzzzzzzz.