Birthday and 1000 NM

Phil Pascoe
Tue 2 Dec 2008 11:51

17:49.3N 30:37.6W

Tony's Birthday and 1000 NM  - 2 December

Well, here we are, Dec 2nd, another birthday at sea. 'You can do the blog today then', they said, though I can't quite see the logic but, at least, on that basis I suppose I won't have to do it again for another year. You may laugh but at the speed we were moving yesterday, I though we might still be here in another year. I think the probelm was that we turned right a couple days ago and started heading directly for Barbados (only 1693 miles to go at 0900hrs this morning). We had had a couple good days runs of 140 miles (ish) and allowed ourselves to start making predictions about when we could arrive. The wind Gods thought they would teach us a lesson about predictions and turned the wind tap to 'low'. Since then and for much of the last 24 hours we have been dribbling along at 3 knots with the sails slatting and not pulling much.

But we appreciate that in sailing as with life you have to take the rough with the smooth. Actually that is probably a poor maxim for sailing because we could use a bit less smooth and whilst we don't exactly want 'rough', we wouldn't mind slightly more, let's say, 'uneveness'. Theoretically, here in the trade wind belt we should be getting a brisk 15-25 knots of north-easterly but the weather charts are showing generally light winds for the next few days. That will change I'm sure.

It's easy to forget how lucky we are to be indulging ourselves in the sailing trip of a life time and enjoying the amazingly fine, though overcast at present, tropical weather - in December! We have been spending the early evenings on deck in T-shirts and shorts only needing to put a jacket on for the overnight watches. During the day any shade is at a premium especially when the cooling breezes are light. The air is clammy and leaves you feeling like you could use a shower.

Yesterday morning I was on deck, not much wind, it was just getting light, the other two were getting breakfast underway and I was really surprised to hear what I thought was either a distressed sea bird calling right off the transom, or possibly a very communicative dolphin. It turned out to be the first section of Vol II of British Bird Song recordings which Phil had put on the hi-fi (which is piped outside) to test us on our bird song recognition skills. It was actually a Moor Hen.

We also put the clocks back an hour yesterday to keep the daylight and clocks aligned and we will have to do this 3 more times to bring us into line with Barbados time (positive thinking). At almost 30 West, sunrise is two hours behind UK time. This last 24 hour period will now actually be 25 hours which will add to the total miles sailed - every little helps. The second side effect was that Phil turned up for his 0400 middlet watch an hour early having neglected to alter his own watch.

During the afternoon I stitched together a piece of yellow duster and two pieces of plastic bag in royal blue to make the basis of a Barbadian courtesy ensign -I thought it was a positive gesture to show that we do intend to get there eventually. I think the flag may, like the lightest of light-weather sails, have to be marked with an upper wind limit in which it can be flown as my stitching is not that good, and it probably shouldn't be used in the rain at all.

Big day to day (birthday), I have been hoarding the Mars bars, which got shipped down with my kit from Plymouth, for a bit of a celebration with afternoon tea and I have put in a request to have the Morrisons tinned treacle steam puddings with dinner tonight. The guys have started the day off well for me with a card that they made from a cornflake packet - very Blue Peter, you remember: take a fairy liquid bottle and and old yoghurt pot and make your own low orbit satellite-delivery vehicle . Interestingly, all the messages in the card hinted at a slight relaxation of the strict alcohol rules for dinner, tonight. They also gave me a large packet of speciality biscuits and a bottle of Abbott Ale (real beer) which is fine slightly warm, unlike the one small tin of spanish lager we are allowed at sundown each day.- so we had it for breakfast with croissants and cheese.

That's pretty much all from me now. We are moving well again, Peter has the watch and the boat is sizzling through the water at 6.1 knots and, despite the light airs yesterday, we still clocked 120 miles between 0800 fixes. I hope my ramblings give you some flavour of life on our voyage (try an Abbot Ale for breakfast if you want your own voyage scratch card of the flavour). I'll try to write some more detail down in subsequent missives. I do want to say thank you to family who gave me cards to bring out with me and to say that I'm looking forward to seeing them at Christmas.