1/12/11 – Happy December! – 17:24.8N 39:41.9W
are having another fair day, logging about 150 nm again, which seems to be near
our new standard performance. Hope it stays that way! The half way line beckons
tomorrow morning (at least the one drawn before the “it depends”
discussion). We get a fleet
position from ARC control every morning (not like the fleet viewer, but just
position), and we have had a look at some of them. It seems that we are right
amongst a throng of boats, including many of the ones in our own class. This
seems remarkable since we have not seen a single ARC boat since leaving the
Canaries, though we did spot the Johann Schmidt, a large sail training vessel
and a (probably) biggish cat heading for the BVI’s.
also heard some VHF radio chatter today, between two yachts though only catching
the transmissions of the one nearest us: the closest we have had to a “sighting”
of our fellow sailors since we left Las Palmas for the second
must be settling in, or at least acclimatising, since we have started a quiz
session before dinner. Christine had given us a box of “macho” quiz questions,
for the crossing of the line, which allows Alison to play Anne Robinson (she is
showing all the signs of enjoying it) and one of us to play the weakest
had not warned us about Martin’s interesting quiz technique, long honed on wet
and windy Irish Sea holidays, but Alison/Anne soon had his number.
and despite scribing this whilst the quiz ran its course (or maybe, because I
was otherwise distracted), the skipper won. Afterwards, it became clear the
prize was covering the extra hour that the clock goes back this evening
Corner - Hydrovane
have not said much about equipment, except for mentioning things that have given
us trouble (even if self- inflicted, like the spin pole), but some folk (the geeks amongst you)
might be interested. If we have nothing more important to impart, we will pick
something - good or bad – and give you a few words about it.
today’s sermon, we will talk about the Hydrovane. There are several types of
wind vane, which control the rudder and course of sailing boats, and avoid the
sometimes tiresome task of hand steering (though most of us enjoy this, not for
took a bit of persuading that investing a small lottery win in a less than
pretty (sorry, but it has to be said) addendum to the stern of a yacht was a
smart thing to do. They are the preserve of the anorak brigade and sea hippies,
and let them keep them, I thought!
With some reluctance, we acquired one and had it fitted in Gibraltar, as
much because it is also a spare rudder in case a passing whale (see earlier
post) deliberately or accidentally destroys your primary steering gear with a
casual flick of a tail. Missing St Lucia and hitting Brazil because you can’t
control your course would not be popular with the crew.
gave it a fair workout in the western Med, not in Atlantic conditions, but began
to warm to its attractions – at about the same rate as we worked out its
idiosyncrasies (like how you have to strip down to your underwear or worse and
go off the back of the boat to put the rudder on (funds are available to buy the
negatives of the photos taken by the hen party boat off Formentera island)
played around with it en route to the Canaries with the full crew, and started
to really understand it’s potential. It does not whine and groan in the way the
boat’s main autopilot does (or a grumpy crew mate!). It seemed to cope well with
big swells, though it does take a bit of time to return us to our original
course if we have skied down a big one.
we left the Canaries, it has steered the boat faultlessly for almost all of the
1400 miles we have run. It clicks and clacks a bit, sometimes clunks when it has
to make a big course correction, and responds (slowly but steadily) to tweaking
of the control line from the cockpit. All in all, a worthy addition to the crew
complement and proof positive that even an old cynic can be persuaded to revise
his opinion. 8 out of 10 (lifting
rudder would get it full marks)
thought I should let you know that the sugar plum fairies did a grand job of
re-attaching the spinnaker pole; the supervision from the cockpit was obviously
an essential part of their success.
commis chef training scheme is also coming on a treat – although some of my
students need to check instructions before going off on a tangent! Fortunately the end result at lunch,
although not part of the original plan, was very palatable. I shall also have to
ensure that my instructions on cooking equipment are full and complete… Martin
couldn’t understand why the pressure cooker had not come to pressure – full
information had not been given – sorry Martin!
have had a better sleep today and are feeling more human as a result. Our advent calendar has been opened for
the first day and I can see that the chocolate treat may be a source of some
competition in the morning.