Christines Notes on halfway

Susan Ayu
Peter Costalas
Thu 21 Jan 2010 13:58

Tuesday 19th ... continued

We had a good afternoon enjoying the scenery and sunshine. Peter cooked dinner tonight – Sausage Rougaille – a Mauritian recipe. It was hot from chilli, savoury from lots of garlic (no problem we all ate it!) sweet from red pepper and spicy from shards of ginger, all in a tomato sauce and eaten with toasted wholemeal pitas. Very unusual but delicious and we were all pleased there was enough for seconds. If things go on like this I’ll be out of a job!!

The nights are getting more tropical. I was doing the 20.00-23.00 watch. It’s warm enough in shorts with just a top and light fleece. The moon is back but sets early and is just a small crescent. Even though it’s still so small it spreads a big track of silvery light across the sea and dims the stars. However once set it was soon possible to enjoy the stars in all their glory. We are becoming more familiar with major navigational constellations such as the Southern Cross and Polaris. As we head westwards it’s good to check every now and again to see we are between the two. I can imagine sailors of old getting to the trade winds and being pleased for the fairly constant wind direction, the warmth of the night and the stars to steer by. I thought it would be a bit scary in the dark on my own (big girl’s blouse I hear you say) but it’s not dark at all – the horizon is clearly visible and there are flashes of light from the phosphorescence in Susan Ayu’s bow wave. There’s also the occasional big flash of phosphorescence like someone turning a light switch on and off quickly. In recent nights these have been quite small in diameter but we have seen big patches (as large as a dolphin but not a dolphin). We think most of these are squid.

Wednesday 20th January 2010


There was some debate as to whether we had reached half way during the night but it was decided following Bernie’s plotting on his big chart that we would reach half way at midday.

The bird is still with us! We have had news from Elaine that Edith is probably a Reef Heron found in West Africa and the Caribbean. We had a quick renaming ceremony as she isn’t an egret, so she is now called Charlize (the heron previously known as Edith). We fed her with another strip of Dorado – sadly we had not landed any flying fish (or deck kill as Peter calls them) overnight. Andy has put the lure out as we also would like some more fresh fish and we don’t know what we can feed Charlize when the Dorado in the fridge runs out. For the record the skipper says he didn’t agree to forgo his goujons (although he is happy for the bird to have his share). She has started to go for short flights on her own volition – not sure why, but she seems to poo over the sea which is good news for the deck cleaning crew! Bernie is taking the credit for getting her boat trained as he has a taped up newspaper to shoo her back to the foredeck when she gets too close to the cockpit and has been encouraging her exercise regime.

We had breakfast and raised the spinnaker. It was a lovely sailing day – fast (average over 6 knots) in the right direction and deep blue sea and a sky dotted with fair weather clouds. More like our experience of Caribbean weather.

We hit half way at exactly noon. I had been told that it would be nice to prepare a surprise for a half way ceremony. I guessed that didn’t mean saying ‘boo’, or similar, or alcohol, as we are a dry boat until we arrive, and so I had secreted away two packs of Sainsbury’s All Day Brunch and a pack of raspberry jelly. The jelly took ages to set but wad ready for lunch. I managed to carve a 1 and a 2 and a / out of orange peel so was able to suspend in the jelly along with some orange segments. We broke open a tin of evaporated milk and it was all a bit like picnics in Enid Blyton books, sitting on the deck eating jelly and having a jolly good laugh. We had already had fried egg, baked beans and bread and butter with the brunch, which turned out to be surprisingly good for long life food.

We all placed our bets for what the final mileage would be when we arrive in Antigua and went about our now normal afternoons of sea watching, sleeping and reading. We did the third part of the RNLI island quiz and then it was time to get ready to eat again.

Charlize has taken to chasing the biodegradable rubbish we throw in the sea, starting by surprising us all by launching herself off the deck to retrieve a tea bag (she chose the Yorkshire tea bag rather than the green tea bag – don’t know if that says anything about her upbringing). She did a flight around the boat with this in her beak and deposited it on the foredeck! Perhaps she can catch fish at sea?

Dinner was Mushroom Risotto made with reconstituted dried mushrooms, which worked better than hoped and an Apple Charlotte with custard.

We continued to have favourable winds throughout the night and the watches were all without incident apart from Andy who did the 20.00-23.00 when there was still a moon and was startled by Charlize, who decided to go for a night flight and appeared in Andy’s vision as a big black shadow passing by!