Day 125 – A Gannet for Company

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sun 17 Apr 2022 08:50
Noon Position: 10 03.3 S 068 44.3 E
Course: NNW Speed: 5 knots
Wind: ENE F3 Sea: slight
Swell: SE 1.5m
Weather: sunny, warm, humid
Day’s Run: 138nm

Another quiet and peaceful 24 hours of sailing. The wind has eased a little and backed into the NNE, so we are have the sheets cracked just off being close hauled, making a very comfortable five knots to windward. We had a shower go through last night sometime. I felt it as the wind picked up and Sylph accelerated to seven knots. She heeled a little but not excessively so I did not feel the need to put a reef in, and I was gratified this morning to see the ten litre container lashed to the mast brim full of rain water.
We also had the company of a gannet for much of yesterday afternoon and last night. I noticed it as it circled Sylph continuously, soaring over her masthead, then gliding ahead, dipping down into the trough of a wave, then climbing rapidly off the back of the wave and, with a few flaps of its wings, approach Sylph’s masthead once more, then repeating the process, over and over again. Initially I thought it might be wanting to land on the masthead for a rest, but then I worked out what it was doing as every now and then it would do the classic gannet dive bomb into the water and more often than not emerge swallowing a fish. Presumably Sylph’s passage was frightening small shoals of fish towards the surface, and subsequently into the beak and belly of the circling bird. Later that night, too dark to fish, when I was doing a set of rounds I noticed that my companion was getting a bit of sleep perched on the starboard cockpit rail, head tucked under its right wing, gently swaying back and forth with the roll of the boat, just like any regular old salt. I left the bird in peace though of course this morning had a small bird mess to clean up.
With the extra bit of rain water I have transferred some fresh water into one of Sylph’s internal tanks and used some of the residual water that had some algae in it to wash a bed sheet out. First I strained the worst of the algae out using a cloth then dissolved a Milton sterilising tablet in the water, then soaked the sheet in the solution for an hour, then wrung it out and hung it to dry in the sun and breeze. Hopefully I will now have a fresh clean sheet to sleep on tonight.
All is well.