Fenix 28.11

Fenix II ARC
Liz/Steve Rakoczy
Sun 28 Nov 2010 11:01

27.11.2010      More Fishing    ~159nm           “19:37N 21:58W”


Another windless night. Here I am sitting in the cockpit and contemplating the stories of seamen who got stuck in this region before. One story that comes to my mind is the trip of Magellan. As we know, although Columbus set out to find a shorter route to the Spice Islands (roughly modern Indonesia) instead he bumped into America and this accidental discovery made him famous for ever. Years passed by and the alternative route to the Spice Islands remained elusive. But seamen, navigators, adventurers and fortune seekers remained mesmerized by the possibility of a fast route to bring spices, more valuable than gold, to Europe. Thus, again and again they set out to find the Western route to the Spice Islands. Magellan left Lisboa (Portugal) with 5 ships and after a couple of weeks at sea they stocked up on water and provisions at Cape Verde and sailed straight West. Another couple of weeks and they found themselves in the Doldrums. The crew of course was not informed that instead of taking the well travelled route around Africa they were going to sail West. Idle crew was not good news on those small ships and indeed soon rumours started that they were heading the wrong direction and will fall off the Earth. These were just rumours and the crew of course could not have known it for sure but the navigator, who assisted Magellan, was fully aware of his plans. Having heard the rumours Magellan without hesitation ordered the tongue of the navigator to be cut out! This made me think. I am the navigator on Fenix. Knowing the fate of my predecessor the saying that “hold your tongue” absolutely makes sense to me! Subsequently by the way Magellan and his ships sailed around South America and found the strait (today called Magellan strait) that took them to the Pacific. Magellan was killed on one of the islands but two of his boats laden with spices almost made it back to Lisboa sinking while in sight of the city.

We had to motor a few hours during the night but the morning welcomed us with a fresh breeze and we had a wonderful day of sailing. After some discussions about our route and with some help from the wind we at last turned towards S/W. Encouraged by yesterday’s catch (the one that got away) we started to fish and in a couple of hours we were all called to task with the beautiful noise of a running reel. Just as our friend Jose, who kindly donated our lures, promised.

The men went into battle armed with gloves, a knife and a gaff while I grabbed the camera, slowed down the boat by furling the main and turning more downwind. Mark heroically grabbed the line and threw the fish onto the deck. Remember how the late Steve Erwin jumped onto the back of crocodiles? This is exactly what happened to this Mahi-Mahi. In a somewhat unorthodox way two guys somehow held the fish down while Mark cut its throat or rather the spine. Soon, we had our beautiful catch cleaned and Kynan offered to make a sashimi. Always an optimist, I purchased pickled ginger, Wasabi powder and soy sauce in the Japanese shop in Subiaco before our departure. I was secretly hoping for some lucky catch so as the time came I enthusiastically I pulled out my purchases that Kynan converted into a beautifully presented sashimi which tasted fantastic!

While savouring our good fortune a fairly large bird landed on the radar and stayed with us grooming itself for hours. It was fascinating to see how comfortable it was with us. We celebrated with grilled fish and Canary potatoes and a bottle of crispy Vino Sol. We live well on Fenix. I remember reading how surprised Ellen McAurthur, as a young sailor, was when she sailed across the Atlantic on an Italian racing yacht. She could not believe to her eyes when the racing crew at night got the pot out and cooked a pasta and sauce even in the most horrid conditions. No freeze dried food for the sensitive stomachs of Mamma’s Italian boys! This was a revelation to me.  Initially we planned to rotate the cooking and cleaning on Fenix but after the culinary efforts of Steve and Mark on the way to Las Palmas we unanimously voted them out of the kitchen to the wash basin. I found my soul mate in Kynan with whom we planned the menu and did the shopping. Mind you we just realised that we have not cooked so far a single dish from our planned menu yet.

What a wonderful day!! I did not even mind when the wind died as the clock stroke 12.00. Some more motoring. If sailor readers worry about all these “motorings” I can tell you that we log the time and there is a penalty formula that is used to calculate the racing time.

I started next morning with downloading the weather reports and the news was really gloomy. No trade winds for another week or two. Our only chance to do some sailing is to go close to the two fronts that are generating gale force winds in the middle of the Atlantic and use these N/NW winds to beat towards St Lucia. So, much about those famous, reliable trade winds. Many of the ARC yachts instead decided to go to Cape Verdes Islands to refuel and wait there for better wind and start motoring on Monday/Tuesday. The forecast made no promise of trade winds for the next 5 days. We were all horrified by this scenario. I downloaded all weather reports known to mankind and after some hesitation we unanimously decided to sail towards the edge of the front. We put in a waypoint to St Lucia (West) and turned west. Only, 2130nm to go. St Lucia here we come!

So long.



Ps: Just learnt the wonderful news that our son Gavin and the gorgeous Susie Allia got engaged!