Vasco da Gama
Ian Strathcarron
Wed 25 Jun 2008 08:28
We are in the North Atlantic, sailing towards La Coruna, where we hope to be able to refuel.  We are in the Atlantic, where the sea is very deep, rather than in the Bay of Biscay, which is shallow and can be treacherous for small boats.  This is on the advice of our excellent skipper, Tim Bassett, who regularly does the run from the U.K. to the Mediterranean and back.  This morning we sailed past a pod of whales.  It was a fantastic sight.  They were quite near the boat, about ten of them, the largest looked about 20 feet long.  They blow a spout of water into the air then leap through the waves like dolphins.
I did the 3 - 6 am watch this morning, which was a bit grim and cold at 3, but at 5 the sky lit up and at 5.45 the beautiful golden red disc of the sun appeared.  We had another squall last night, not as bad as the first storm, but still uncomfortable.  The boat was under sail and would first lurch to the left when all the bedding and I would be flung to one end of the bed.  Then the boat straightened and went the other way and I would slide to the other side with my legs in the air and the blood rushing to my already burnt red face.  It lasted for about 6 hours until midnight, when the clouds cleared and the sky was black and covered with glistening silver stars.
We are about 100 miles north of the northern coast of Spain, so as we average about 5 miles over ground per hour we will be there early tomorrow.  The seas around here are empty of other ships but further back we were in the main shipping lane and saw masses of containers and other cargo ships, and also QE 2.  She looked very beautiful.  At the time I was almost upside down in the galley as the boat was under sail and listing heavily to starboard and I was trying to make Welsh rarebit for lunch. We can identify the name of ships which pass by a programme attached to the radar which tells us the name, size, length and destination of each ship.  Most of the biggies seem to be going to or from Rotterdam.  We also saw a huge COSTCO container en route to the USA.  More shipping and other news in the next bulletin.  Heave ho!