Water Music - Day 13

Sat 25 May 2013 20:10
Position 36:36.8N 40:39.14W
Last night we were still being headed somewhat – so at midnight, as Simon relieved Stephen on watch, we tacked north onto starboard. (I was myself made aware of this manoevre in the forecabin, being awoken by means of a collision with port bulkhead! Thanks, chaps!) The GRIB weather files suggest that as we go north the wind may become lighter but that we will then be best placed to take advantage of a northerly wind shift and so eased off as we approach Horta in the Azores. (Best laid plans etc.)
Why is it that the closer you get to your destination in a sailing boat – the more likely it is that the wind turns against you? In truth, sailors are much like farmers in that they always find something in the weather to grumble about. With farmers there is invariably either too much rain or not enough, while for sailors the wind is either too much or too little and never quite from where you want it. Still, as I relieved Simon on the helm at 8 am this morning we were bowling along at 6 knots in 18 knots of breeze with the sun shimmering over the ocean out of a clear sky – not really much wrong with that! I spent a happy couple of hours taking in the rays and dodging the odd rogue wave that threatened to come aboard.
The starboard tack has implications for life aboard. For Stephen in the aft cabin and for me in the forecabin it is simply a matter of rolling across the bunk and wedging oneself against the leeward bulkhead. This is not too much of a problem (although punching into a steep sea does give the effect up for’ward of sleeping somewhere between a roller-coaster and a tumble dryer.) For Simon in the twin bunk cabin amidships, it is only the uncertain provenance of the lee cloth that separates his slumber from a rude awakening on the cabin sole. Also, neither the sink in the for’ward heads nor that in the galley will drain, as the heeling of the boat place the seacocks well below sea level. Draining these requires the helmsman to head downwind for a spell. We are thinking of instituting a policy of starboard tack in the day and port tack at night.
The skipper has persevered with the sextantry – taking noon sights and indulging in higher maths to ascertain our position. Somewhat to the chagrin of the sceptical crew who fully expected to be told that contrary to appearances we were in fact in Ilford High Street – his efforts place us within a few miles of where we actually are! So that’s all right then. In the event of the GPS going belly up there remains a better than average chance that we will find the Azores before bumping randomly into the left hand side of Europe – or Africa!
As I write in late afternoon, we have been beating in a north easterly direction all day – still in brilliant sunshine - and the wind has now gone gratifyingly light and headed us. The reefs have been shaken from the main and we plan to persevere on this tack until we are above the rhumb line or are headed further such that we can lay the true course without heading south.
Still no fish. I could just fancy a bit of Tuna!
David, Stephen and Simon