Guest Blog from Botty!

Steve Powell
Fri 22 Oct 2010 14:32

A typical UHURU day at sea, Thursday 21st October 2010.

A Guest blog by Botty

Midnight. Roused from my bunk by Hugh to stand my watch. Scramble into my lifejacket and stagger to the deck. 2 hours of Champagne sailing in almost daylight under a full moon and star filled sky. 10 knots of wind from the North East and we can lay our course to Fortaleza. We are 200 miles out into the Atlantic off the mouth of the Amazon struggling against 3 knots of current and there are no other ships about.

O200 to 0730. Glorious sleep tucked against my lee board on the port tack, dreaming of things back home and beach volley ball over the horizon in Brazil.

0730. Half an hour “me time”. Ablutions including amongst other delights, a shower,( Uhuru has the best fresh water showers in any yacht afloat)  hair wash, shave, etc etc.

0800 to 1000. Back on watch streaming two fishing lines from the stern, port and starboard, to try and catch the morning Tuna. Once again superb sailing conditions under a blue sky with puffy white clouds. Suddenly a  visit by probably twenty dolphins which charge at the boat from all quarters as if their leader has given orders to “meet at the bow”. Probably the most I have ever seen in one pod and their jumping, rolling , diving and playfulness is breathtaking. Some of the larger ones jump clear out of the water almost as high as the deck. They swim inches away from the hull, which is travelling at 9 knots, but never touch the boat. Steve and Hugh get some great photos and film. You will be glad to hear that they are for too smart to be attracted by our fishing lures trailing astern.

“Meet at the bow, boys”

1000. Off watch now till group watch from 1400 to 1800. Free time. Clear up a bit , read my book a bit and then make sandwiches for lunch. What a bunch of Prima Donnas.....”Ham lettuce and tomato for me but no cheese and salad cream not mayo.......not that brown bread..... the other loaf at the back of the fridge.........” and so it goes on. Only Ollie eats whatever you put in front of him and more often than not he eats the leftovers as well. What a credit to his mother.

My day for cooking so ask the crew what they want for dinner, go through all the options, get slated for failing to buy something or other before we left port ( a daily if not hourly occurrence). Finally decide to chose something myself and settle for Lamb stew made and frozen back in Cayenne. (Thanks Tamsin !).

“What about making some bread Botty ?” Oh bollocks.....just do what it says on the packet. Yeah !     I follow the instructions to the letter and it says leave the newly made dough for an hour to rise under a wet towel. An hour later I still have a lump the size and consistency of a discus. Then it says burst it with your fingers (nothing to burst) and knead it for a further 5 minutes. Fingers won’t penetrate. Oh sod it.... just leave it to do its worst.

1400. Crew get together time when we usually go though procedures ‘ealth and safety’ today it is the defibrillator. Get it all out and play with it for a while, everything but actually putting the pads on the chest and having a go. Hugh asks if there is any shaving cream in the kit to go with the razor to remove body hair under the pads. Has he quite grasped the sense of urgency associated with this bit of kit? Suddenly the starboard fishing reel goes mad.....then stops....then the port reel goes off...then stops. We drop the defibrillator and grab the rods.......something very large is attacking our lures.      I start reeling in the starboard line, Steve on port ...something hits his lure again but doesn’t take ...I pull mine in and out to make it seem more alive and active ...then........ BAM a five foot long Sword Fish hits my lure like a steam train and the fight is on. The rest of the crew struggle to take the way off the boat while I hang on for grim death as I am dragging a very angry 60 lb fish against his will through deep water at 7 knots and all I have is the brake on my reel and 80 pound breaking strain on my line. I could go on forever but I won’t.

Finally after 20 minutes it is subdued and Steve bravely grabs the nose spike ( three foot long ,sharp and rather dangerous) while Ollie removes the hook from its mouth and Hugh captures the action on his movie camera. We have no space in the deep freeze for so much fish meat so my beauty is released and swims away pissed off and a bit wiser.

Back to the defibrillator and the grey dough cannon ball which still hasn’t risen an inch.

Stuff the bread in the oven, cook the dinner, serve it up in doggy bowls to the waiting crew and typical......first mouthful and Whrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr the starboard reel starts humming. This time it is Ollie who gets there first and it is another big one. This time it is a 60 lb sail fish which Ollie manfully brings to the boat and we film, photograph and release again. All we want is a fat little tuna and we have caught and released $1000 worth of game fish.

Dinner is served again, not so warm as before but miracle of miracles my bread has risen and bronzed to near perfection and I am the hero of the moment but fear that I have made a cross for myself in the galley.

Eat your heart out Beans & Willie!! Real homemade bread!

1800 to 2000 Hugh is on watch so the other three of us watch some banal American video series about the Iraq war...all shouting, cursing and shooting but fortunately I drift off in the middle so am spared most of it.

2000 to 2200 Back on watch. 4 squares of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. Drop dead beautiful night (dark by 6 pm). Shorts and a T shirt, barefoot and alone with one’s thoughts. No shipping no fishing boats and finally cool enough to be comfortable.

2200 to 2400 Back to my beautiful bunk to build up the energy to do it all again tomorrow. Steve’s day for  cooking tomorrow...what a blessing.

24 hours on Uhuru at sea and two days sail from the Equator

Hey ho and up she rises.
First Engineer, Cook, Fisherman and the butt of everyone’s jokes but just lovin’it.