Christines notes 29th Jan

Susan Ayu
Peter Costalas
Fri 29 Jan 2010 15:10

Wednesday 27th January 2010

Sadly there was no cooked breakfast as the big swells continue to make it unsafe to spend too much time in the galley.  It was a day where time dragged and when we started to think more about the end of the voyage than what was to come or had past.  The prospect of chips with salt on, ice cream, cold beer and a rum punch kept us entertained if not feeling very hungry bearing in mind our meagre food intake on Tuesday.

Another sign of being closer to land is the incidence of other ships on the AIS but still no other yachts.

I suppose it’s no surprise we still have the heron on board.  Her frozen tuna packages run out on Friday but there is no hope of fishing at the moment.  We are worried she is getting too used to us.  She is certainly very curious about anything going on around her and was the first to notice the frigate bird – guess it’s a threat to her- by extending her neck and looking skyward.  The frigate bird is a black bird with a very large wingspan.  It can soar high in the sky and is predatory, chasing other birds to get them to drop their food. They are a splendid sight and remind me very much of my first sailing holiday in the Caribbean where I woke up to see such a bird through the hatch.

By lunchtime the sea had calmed down a little so we were able to have sandwiches with a variety of fillings (cheese, cucumber, ham, onion and pickle) – we now have 8 slices of bread left for the promised bacon sandwiches!

The skipper spent the afternoon reprogramming his old computer to work out the sunset times.  The maths on paper looked very complicated but this was one challenge that wasn’t going to get the better of him.  We were all impressed that he cracked it well in advance of sunset.

The rest of the crew were either on watch, snoozing, listening to music and I even managed to have a shower which was quite a feat!

Nature notes are very sparse – just the odd flying fish.  There are probably other things to see but the big swell makes them more difficult to spot.

It was pizza night in -we had been saving these as a treat but they were a couple of days past their use-by date so they had to be cooked as I wasn’t going to throw them away and I don’t want to poison the crew. They were very tasty but we will be eating them again for lunch as there was quite a bit left over.

Off to bed perchance to sleep (if the rocking allows)

Thursday 28th January 2010

Andy, who was on the 05.00-08.00 watch said it was one of the most spectacular sunrises he had seen (at 07.11) with a few clouds adding interest.  I can’t verify the statement as I was still asleep but I look forward to seeing the photos.

 It was however a lovely morning with sunshine, slightly less swell and clouds that looked far more like fair weather clouds than the menacing grey ones of the last couple of days.  It seemed as if more normal service had been resumed. I rashly made the prediction that we wouldn’t be rained on, we would see dolphins, catch a fish and see more frigate birds. We settled down to enjoy the rays and the fact that we were making very good speed (average of 7 knots) in the right direction.  Predicted arrival is now Sunday 31st at about lunchtime.  

We managed a more normal buffet style lunch – the red cabbage was showing signs of needing to be used fairly imminently so we had more coleslaw this time with walnuts (which Bernie kindly cracked open for me) and strips of dried apricots along with the lightly curried mayonnaise. We still have a few tomatoes so I was able to make a salad with these and some onions and olives.  The rest of it was ‘tarpaulin food’.  According to Pete this is when on a ship all the remnants of the food are laid out to see if it will last the trip.  After we had eaten we did throw away the remains of the risotto and chorizo casserole to avoid anyone arriving in Antigua having suffered from stomach upset. The heron gets very agitated when we eat and tried to pinch food from Peter who was sitting on the companionway steps (steps between the cockpit and the saloon).  She is obviously very hungry but not at all interested in anything we had for lunch.  (Give me fish!!) In desperation we tried a few small strips of bacon fat and surprise surprise she wolfed these down.  This could be quite useful to keep her going when the fish supplies run out.

We had picked up more ships on AIS – I almost resent having to share our bit of sea with anyone else, the isolation has been a very interesting and beautiful experience.  It’s also a sign that we are almost at the end of our adventure and although I want to get to Antigua I don’t want the magic to end.

One of the vessels was only doing 3 knots and initially we thought it could be another rowing boat. However it turned out to be a bigger vessel called the San Paulo.  What was strange was that we ‘saw’ this boat about 4 days ago going in a different direction and again at 3 knots.  We finally had visual and it turned out to be two boats rafted side by side (strange that only one name showed on the AIS details as we would have expected both to be named).  We pondered on what they were and assumed they were fishing boats, possible factory ships.  Although we came within a few miles of these Charlize was not tempted to fly off despite some considerable encouragement from some on board.

At about this time the weather took a turn for the worst.  A few grey shower clouds had been building up in the north east and eventually they caught up with us. In advance of their arrival the wind dropped from around 22 knots to about 14 knots. Peter took the opportunity to put in a reef in our genoa, quickly followed by another in the main sail, which was just in time as the wind touched 33 knots as the squall hit us (not too much rain fortunately as we were just on the edge of the clouds).  Susan Ayu responded magnificently and with the reduced sail coped well with this squall and all the others that followed throughout the afternoon.  The sun was obliterated behind the dark clouds and the swell increased – what kind of Caribbean weather is this?

The sunset, although we can now be perfectly accurate in knowing when it is, went on behind the clouds and completely out of our sight!

Charlize was fed from her ever dwindling supply of tuna strips and went to roost again in the hole under the swimming platform.  We hope she will fly off when she sees land. The humans had Chilli- con-carne with rice – just about manageable in the rocky conditions.

I got very wet on my watch from 23.00-02.00 but we sailed well on the reduced sails and again in a good direction. Before the end of my watch I sat in the dark and wet and reminded myself not to make any predictions for tomorrow!