Update to Christines Blog

Susan Ayu
Peter Costalas
Mon 18 Jan 2010 13:22

Saturday 15th January 2010

Saturday night, curry night

I suppose it’s rare to get perfect sailing conditions at sea and following our days of strong winds we woke to not much wind at all.  We started by poling out the genoa (using a long metal pole attached to the mast one end and the corner of the sail at the front end of the boat the other end) to stop the sail collapsing.  This worked OK for a while but it was soon time to put up the spinnaker – a large very lightweight sail used when the winds are not too strong and coming mainly from behind the boat.

This went well (it can be a difficult sail to rig) and soon we were enjoying seeing it billow out in front of Susan Ayu.  It looks like a Union Jack so the colours were very attractive against the blue sky.

As we were virtually upright and not rolling around it was a much more relaxed day.  We all sat around in the cockpit enjoying the sunshine.  Our question of the day was ‘Does the sea smell’.   We did some scientific research and I have a good photo of Bernie doing the test (everyone else had seen I had the camera).  The hypothesis  was that the sea did not smell, the apparatus was a bucket, the method of the test was to fill the bucket with sea water put your head in the bucket and sniff  and the results (apart from an amusing photo) were that all anyone could smell was warm bucket!  So in conclusion we decided the sea does not smell, at least not as strong as our bucket. That diversion along with all the work on the sails took us up to lunch time.

Lunch was Salad Nicoise with tinned tuna as we haven’t caught the real thing yet.  After lunch we continued our entertainment with the first part of a quiz, provided by Bernie and composed by the RNLI.  We have 100 answers to find, as a team, by the time we arrive in Antigua. All the answers are islands – for example question one was ‘yellow singing birds’ answer, Canaries. 

We had to start motoring at about 16.00.  Hopefully by the morning we will have more wind. 

As it was Saturday night a curry was requested (as per tradition in the Costalas household).  We had chicken and vegetable curry with a chickpea side curry and boiled rice followed by yoghurts.

Sunday 16th January

Whales, fish and birds

Overnight watches were boring – the engine had to be used all night as the wind rarely got above 7knots and not from the right direction to allow us to sail.  After breakfast we put up the spinnaker again and it was a relief to turn off the engine and have peace and quiet again.  We had some long lazy and large swells coming from the north but not an unpleasant feeling –more like going up and down rolling hills. 

The sun was hot and today I got into my swimwear for the first time.  Peter and Bernie tackled the leak that becomes apparent in the saloon when it rains or when a big wave comes across the decks. This entailed taking down quite a lot of headlining and then Bernie throwing buckets of water (yes the bucket is very versatile!) (as is Bernie) across the saloon window to see if we could identify a point of ingress.  This took a while – we were surprised how warm the water was (28.4°) - but eventually this was done and sealant applied to the guilty spot.  Putting up the head linings took most of the rest of the day but it was a good job done.

During the course of this work we had our first nature moment.  Andy was on watch and spotted whales, quite a long way off nearly on the horizon.  It looked as if they were leaping out of the water.  Andy said that the first splash was huge – probably 20’ high.  We all watched for a while in case they came our way. We were ready to turn on our engine to let them know we were in the vicinity if they came close but they moved off towards the east.

I took over watch from Andy and he made us lunch – a Greek salad and the last papaya for dessert.  Very tasty and healthy.  I asked why we don’t eat like this at home.  Peter said he and Sue have said the same.  We agreed it all tastes delicious in the sunshine but in the UK coming in from gardening etc when it’s cold and grey does not make you want to eat salad but to seek out comforting warm food.

I was still watching out for whales when our second nature event occurred.  I saw a fish on the lure.  Andy stopped making us tea and came out to deal with the line.  We had caught our first edible fish – a Dorado (also called mahi-mahi or dolphin fish).   We despatched it humanely and took in the lure to avoid catching more than we could eat.

The headlining gang resumed their task!

Shortly after this, just as I was preparing to fillet the fish, I was startled by something big landing on the portside guard rail just next to me. It was a small grey heron or egret a long way from home.  It looked tired out and very skinny with big green feet and a comically long bill.  Everyone came to see and it flew onto the ensign and then off to the foredeck. The skipper told us not to feed it as it would become dependent on us so we tried to ignore it apart from firstly taking a lot of photos.

The fish filleting completed there were a few bits of fish over and with a bit or pleading from the rest of the crew Peter relented and we threw a bit of fish towards the bird.  It took about 5 seconds for it to grab the fish and swallow it hungrily.  We repeated the process and it eagerly swallowed all that was thrown its way.   It did not however drink any of the water we left on the foredeck.

The headlining gang finished their task – it was very well done!!

 Just before sunset we took the spinnaker down – Edith egret or Henry heron was still there but did not fly off far landing on the boom until the sail was down and then resuming its place on the foredeck.  It was still there at 21.45.  We are not sure where it was heading or whether it should be so far out to sea.  Perhaps we will be able to find out when we get back home.  I think we have some good photos.

We enjoyed our fish simply pan fried in butter with a lemon and butter sauce served with ratatouille and boiled potatoes.    

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