Atlantic Crossing 3 Breaking news - Diva on Stage by 8.00am!

Wed 20 Jan 2016 11:31
We are on the countdown from 999 miles DTW and Zoonie is still powering along.
Preparations are underway for me to take a Polaris sight this evening during the twilight time as the sun descends to 6 degrees below the horizon and there is still enough light to see the horizon. Its a nice easy one to calculate because as Polaris, aka The Pole or North Star, is almost due north or 90 degrees from the equator anywhere in the northern hemisphere our Latitude is practically the same as its reading on the sextant, the SA or Sextant Altitude. But not quite, so some calculations have to be done using the Astro Tables, of which I have to use my 2015 ones as I haven’t yet got the 2016 book. This is possible by applying a small addition to the equation.
We are also having a look at the charts of the Caribbean and Pacific to see if there are any more we need and might be able to obtain in Guadeloupe and I am preparing and putting in soak vegetables for tonight’s sweet and sour supper.
During the day the solar panels and windcharger if it has enough wind, keep up with our electricity usage but during the night something is taking around 10% of the battery power and we suspect the fridge. So from now on we will turn it off at night and see how the batteries hold up.
Oh for a drone with a camera, and the knowledge of how to use it. All around is blue sky and mid Atlantic blue sea (a colour I have never been able to perfectly match on the camera) blue spray hood and genoa edge. All around is white puffy clouds, shimmering white hull, acres of white foaming water being pushed away as Zoonie rushes westwards, racing the wind at almost half its speed, partners in progress, pals in passage-making.
At night greedy wind guzzling squalls pass over us giving us a welcome 24 knots max wind and we have to reef for them which slows us and sends Zoonie wandering off course.
The next morning we gybed onto a broad reach on the other tack, port tack with wind coming to Zoonie’s left side for the first time, to regain our track line. A pair of white Tropic birds visit us and I wonder if their long tails are made of one or more feathers, they are elegant and exotic.
Squalls are tiring,  and I slept all morning. With renewed energy and mindful of making use of the little wind we had we set the Diva cruising chute in the afternoon, keeping a close look at the horizon. She gave a fine performance for four hours before we sent her offstage for the night. Instead the full main and genoa gave us a lovely gentle sail on a calm sea.
I sat holding the ipad and aiming it all over the sky to find Sirius, the bright jewel in the Big Dog’s collar. I had already brought Polaris onto the horizon at around 7.34pm the evening before and would do the workings later.
Spurred on by her performance yesterday and the need for speed in these light airs the Diva was back on stage before 8.00am the next morning and gave a magnificent, endurance performance until 18.00hrs.
I remember when we were on the Stavvy in 2004, not far from here and in similar conditions, a mood of contentment spread across many of the ship’s crew. Off watch people relaxed on her spacious afterdeck in the sun, reading and chatting with new friends and at night permission was often sought from the Officer on Watch to go aloft. From our position at the wheel we would look aloft at the folk sitting on the yards, chatting quietly, silhouetted in the silver light of the moon as Stavvy rolled and heaved gently towards Barbados. Time almost stood still and the present was so delightful the arrival became unwanted.
The fishing line was out astern on Zoonie now the sea was a little calmer. The front deckhouse windows are open and a cooling breeze passed into Zoonie making living below really pleasant. The watermaker is also working well now it is mostly water that is passing under her and the Port tank is soon full once more.
To my genuine amazement the Polaris sight worked out well in relation to the Chartplotter latitude at the time using a 15.1 correction for the new year. We finished the last of the lettuce, tomatoes and hard boiled eggs at lunch today.
The evening brought a wind change and drop as our air was being stolen by a big low pressure system to our north which was speeding towards Europe. The wind soon filled to a sailing breeze but it was bang on the nose, so our choice was motor on course or sail well off course and recover later. We took the first choice and motored for 19 hours.
By now we were passing through patches of keel clenching, propellor strangling, mats and skeins of orange Sargasso weed knitted together sufficiently to support objects and we decided to take avoiding action if confronted with a big area of the hard stemmed little plants in case any was taken into our engine and water-maker intakes. This of course meant no motoring at night. At one point I came on deck in time to see Zoonie about to cross an area that extended 30 metres both side of her hull and at least another 30 metres ahead. Avoiding action was needed instantly as the engine was on so I didn’t manage a photo, but I’m sure the image you have pictured in your minds is not far from the reality.
Whirrrrrrrrr the fishing line spins out astern. Fisherman Rob is there in an instant and I dash for the vodka and pliers. Hmmm this is one we haven’t seen before. He’s not in our books. He/she is grouper in shape has sharp barbs on his back and belly, teeth, humanoid protruding and revolving eyes, is charcoal in colour with pale blue spots and parallelogram shapes all over his sides. I have a problem at these times. To kill or return. With sadness we despatch him and I take his fillets and promise to make good use of them (!) as I return his remains to his home.
At lunch we shared the last of the delicious oranges as we continued on our round of sail off course, gybe, sail back to the rhumb line we set on the chartplotter between Mindelo and Guadeloupe with rain – no wind – up to 20 knots wind and back to rain and no wind. We knew this was coming from the weather forecast so just set our minds to make the best of it.
Mercifully, during the night the trade wind returned but then......disaster struck!
I awoke feeling as fresh as a daisy when Rob greeted me with, “Disaster, the main’s torn!” (He does like to add a sense of drama to a situation doesn’t he!)
“What, the fabric or a seam?”
“Well I’m not sure I can’t really see in this light.” To prevent further damage we reefed this new in September 2015 sail into the mast where it would be protected until we reached port.
A good sized flying fish was added to the fish stocks and I decided a thai green/white curry would do for two nights suppers. As a precaution we decided to test mystery fish on our lips and under our tongues. Unlike Idres Elbow he didn’t make me tingle so I cooked him with his friend the frying(!) fish and then tasted a little of the cooked flesh, thinking if I were to die early then of course I would not be able to put the fish in the curry and Rob would not eat it.
So as I’m alive to type this here’s the recipe:- Onion, garlic, white cabbage (hence the green/white curry) canary potatoes,tinned peas and the cooked fish
in a sauce of                                                  :- peanut butter, Paul’s Thai Green Curry Paste, lemongrass and coconut butter to cook with.
This 13th day of the passage brought weather more like the vigorous start but a little gentler and we welcomed it with a full genoa and ‘reefed’ main. The tradewind brought 8 – 12 knots of power on the beam in slight to moderate seas with a decreasing swell of 3 – 5 metres. Zoonie is happy and on course and below is comfy and around 33’ in the saloon.
Lunch comprised the last of the smoked Cape Verde goats cheese with Branston pickle followed by Mindelo ring cake with tinned fruit and custard. Now all the fresh fruit has gone my imagination is at work to create puddings using the ring cake and good old Birds custard powder.
We had our Mystery Fish Curry for supper and it was tasty. Shortly afterwards the wind rose to 20 knots and as we sped beautifully to the three quarter mark just before midnight I was listening to Rod Stewart’s Human album. Perfect.