And a Hitch Hiker

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sun 5 Jun 2011 02:01
Noon Position: 19 36.0 S 179 04.0 W
Course: West, Speed: 5 knots
Wind: South east, F5 fresh breeze
Weather: Overcast, heavy showers, warm
Day's run: 150 miles

This part of the world is encumbered with lots of islands and reefs, which might make for great cruising but not for restful single handed ocean crossings. My old chart, which is hopelessly out of date, showed a small reef patch right in our path last night which despite adjustments to the wind vane steering Sylph seemed determined to over run. I checked my electronic chart which aren't quite so out of date, these showed a 4 meter spot depth surrounded by depths of 1800 plus meters with PD, position doubtful, alongside it. I was very sceptical of its existence but not wanting to take any silly risks decided to gybe and make a bold alteration of course to the north west. I went on deck and there I found a visitor, a booby bird had decided that while Sylph might not be the speediest mode of transport it was a lot less tiring than flying and had decided to perch upon the main sheet travellor. Bother, I didn't want to frighten him away but I needed to gybe and he was likely to get squashed where he was. I looked at his long sharp beak with a nasty little hook in the end, perfect for fishing and undoubtedly quite capable of giving me a nasty nip. He seemed quiet enough, he had actually settled on Sylph a few hours earlier but originally was out of the way on one of the solar panels, I suspect he was exhausted otherwise he would not have tolerated my presence so closely. I pondered options, grabbed a towel, but in the end just picked him up from behind and deposited him on the lazarette hatch. I then gybed and got Sylph settled on a more nor' westerly course. My visitor eventually resettled himself to the pushpit rail. I came up several times during the night and was impressed to see him still there, head under wing, sleeping and rocking back and forth as Sylph rolled beneath him; quite a good sailor I thought. I was pleased that come daylight he had departed and I hope that the short respite will help him on his journey.

A short while ago I got caught out by a heavy rain squall, I presume associated with the slow moving front my weather faxes are currently showing. We had been running before under the jib, I saw the thick band of cloud behind us, I wasn't expecting anything too fierce so decided to wait and see, but I was wrong. All of a sudden heavy rain and strong winds hit, Sylph tore away to the north west, the jib bellying out, and the windvane struggling to cope. Eventually, juggling the wheel, the jib sheet and the furling line I managed to get most of the jib in, just leaving enough out to keep us running off before the wind and waves. I swapped the wind vane over to the heavy weather vane, put the storm boards in, and went below to dry off and heated some baked beans and cooked some toast to warm myself up. Very cosy!

The wind has now died down considerably and Sylph is wallowing a little, I need to give her a bit more canvas, so if you will excuse me.

All is well.