Day 17. Nuts and bolts and success with the stars

I was woken just before my 0400 watch by the sound of something small and metallic, like a shackle or pin landing on the deck above my head.  Our skipper  checks the foredeck and confirms both of our suspicions.  There is a nut and washer on the deck and  the pin (a large bolt) that holds the boom to the gooseneck is starting to work its way up and out.  Luckily (in some ways) the pressure on the now angled pin has caused it to bend, so it wasn’t going to fall out easily, however, it also doesn’t want to go back in too easily either.  A few sharp smacks with a 6lb diving weight seems to do the trick.  The tack of the sail also sits through a ring at the head of this bolt, but there is no way we’re going to get it back through there now, so, in true resourceful style the tack is now being held down to the gooseneck with a sail tie.  Job all done just before day break.

Every degree travelled in a westerly direction equates to 4 minutes of time, so sunrise and sunset get later and later, so as sunrise approaches 7am and sunset approaches 7pm we know we are approaching a new time zone.  So now at 45 degrees west the clocks have gone back an hour and thus the sun rises an hour earlier.  So this morning I have the 0400 – 0600 watch with twilight now included.  

Today I am organised and prepared to take my star sight once the horizon becomes visible with the daylight.  This time I’ve worked out from the book which stars I should be using and I am successful in shooting five of them plus Polaris, but at dawn it is a bit of a race against the sun to get the job done before she rises and the stars all go to bed for the day, which is hopefully what I am going to do too.  It was a pretty morning, nice pink low sky with the crescent moon rising maybe an hour before the sun.

  After 6 I’m off watch and before I go to bed I have a go at calculating and plotting the star sight, I am pretty successful this time round and come up with a reasonable position for us.  The good news is the now I am navigating by the stars I don’t need to be up to measure the sun at 9am, noon and 3pm.  I’m not due back on watch again until 1500, so that is one big fat massive sleep I’m going to have!

  However, I seem to have adjusted to 3 hours sleep patterns and sure enough I am awake at 10 ish, it is raining and cloudy – ideal, no need to rush out anywhere, duvet day it is.  I sleep again until lunch time, having yet more crazy lucid crazy dreams. 

  So after a very lazy morning I surface on deck around 2pm, my cabin is on the starboard side, so at the moment I am north facing out of my window, it has been cloudy through that view all day.  Out on deck it is glorious sunshine on the port side “Different day out here!” I remark.  I am totally sold on the star nav now, the math and the process is pretty simple and you get a nice accurate fix in one hit rather than the sun run sun process which involves three hits and three calculations, so by around 4pm you can tell where you were at noon!

  The afternoon gave another uneventful watch, however we are now sailing!  And the news just keeps getting better, the wind has filled from the SE, which is unusual and unexpected, so finally we have the apparent wind on the beam and we are actually aiming at Antigua under sail for the first time on the whole trip!  The breeze holds until evening then becomes light and fickle again, so we are back to quietly motoring our way through a very very dark night.

  At dusk twilight I have been through the star sight process again, pre planned which stars are available for my local hour angle and done my best to shoot them before I lose the horizon to darkness, so yet again the race is on.  This time is a bit trickier, only two of my seven stars I actually know where they are in the sky, so with hand bearing compass, sextant and star pocket I search for my stars.  They are all bright, so they appear early in the twilight, Vega is the first one to show herself.  I manage to find Vega in the constellation of Lyra, Deneb in Cygnus, Altair in Alquila and Fomalhaut (not sure which constellation), it is cloudy to the north and east, so I shoot what I think is Polaris, but when I do the math at the end it doesn’t fit, so I’m guessing that one was Kochab instead.  Half an hour of effort and I have a nice tidy fix plotted on my chart, happy!    

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