It is 0000 on 2 November, I have the 0000 to 0400 watch. It was quite a chilly night, at least chilly enough for a jumper and a duvet while I lay in the comfort of the cushions on the top deck, staring at the moon and the stars, I’m in heaven.
And to top things off I treat my fellow crewman to jam on toast, Juan’s home made Manx blackberry jam. My American crewman was delighted (apparently blackberries were expensive in the US when he was a boy), “but the grow everywhere for free” I exclaimed, explaining that these weren’t shop bought, but hand picked. Apparently the jam is so good that I’m worth throwing overboard for, I’d best watch out!
It was shortly after the jam treat that the autopilot started complaining about low ship battery, to be honest i was surprised it had taken this long to register. Sure enough we’re down to 11.4V on main battery bank, we fire the generator up, the alarms stop. Our skipper wakes up after a while of the genny running, wondering why we have it on and how could it be we are using so much power?
I’m off watch at 0400, but I’m still awake and alert and thinking about our power situation. We are running a lot of domestic systems, plus autopilot, radar, chartplotter, but we have a huge battery bank, so something seems amiss. The worry is that everything on this boat needs power, you can’t even pump the heads out manually, the worst case scenario is not a pleasant one, but I guess it is more like the kind of sailing I am used to! It is a worry for the daylight tomorrow.
The next thing on my utterly sleepless mind, is the noon sight I took today. I was 2 degrees out (doesn’t sound like a lot but it equates to 120 miles in real terms). I rework the sums again, then I rework it with different numbers to see if I can get us closer to our actual position. In the end I do the whole thing backwards from my known lat off the GPS to work out what I should have had as the sextant reading. The problem all along had been the accuracy of my sight in the first place, but this is a big learning curve and we can only aim to improve.
I doze restlessly until I’m back on watch at 0900 for three pleasant uneventful hours, we’re plodding along averaging 5 knots, it isn’t very windy and is dropping, the sea is calm in relative terms.
This morning watch also saw the start of the fishing competition. Who is going to catch that illusive tuna? Our skipper has got an actual rod mounted on the starboard side down aft and is using some kind of squid lure, I’m on a hand line which is lashed on to the port side, I’m using the bad boy big silver lures that Juan sent me off with, I reckon my chances are better, but it is going to be a long game this one 🙂
The next part of my daily ritual is to work out the time of the sun’s meridian passage for our longitude. I estimate today it will be around 1158 (ship time). So, I finish my watch poised on the foredeck, sextant in hand to try again for a noon sight. I think this time my sextant altitude is closer than yesterday’s efforts, but we’ll have to wait until later to do the sums, something more pressing has come up.
One of our crew points to a very definite hole in the mainsail where it has been sitting on the lower spreaders. This boat is advertised as being an ocean cruiser, surely on an ocean cruiser you would at least reinforce the sail with spreader patches? Apparently not. So, I am not getting off watch to catch up on sleep.
Nope, I’m climbing into bosun’s chair on, armed with knife, gaffer tape, rope and a couple of towels to put some chafe preventers on the shrouds. Luckily it is about as calm as the Atlantic gets, but unlike a monohull there is no constant heel angle. I climb up the shroud (easier to grip and climb that than the big fat mast), the spreaders are too long for me to be able to wedge myself in between the mast and the shroud, so I’m trying to stop myself swinging in circles around the rigging which is tricky.
The main halyard has a double purchase system, so there is a turning block shackled to the harness which is a massive pain in ass (or arms) as it kept pinching my skin between the block and spreader or rigging as I’m trying to hang on and keep steady with my feet and legs on the shroud and an arm over the spreader so I can work. After an hour both spreader ends are well and truly padded out with towels and a shit load of gaffer tape. All of this is the heat of the midday sun, at least it was calm. Mainsail is back up and we are away again.
I’d worked up an appetite after all that hanging around so I served up lunch, the usual cheese, cold meats, tuna mayo, tomatoes and bread etc. Man I was hungry, two sandwiches, left-over pasta salad, cheese and apple!
After all that exercise and food I am too alert to sleep for the afternoon, so I set about looking at today’s noon sight. This time I am within 20 miles of our GPS position, which on the large scale charts looks like almost no difference. YES! I am happier with this one, although I am still a long way off, but hopefully, with more practice my accuracy should improve.
Then I hear shouting from on deck, I thought someone had caught a fish, but no, we have dolphins!!!! Loads of them all stopping to play in our bow waves for a good five minutes. It was incredible, lying on the bow of the catamaran watching the dolphins around the bow and under the trampoline, the water is so blue and so clear, just beautiful. I am so lucky to see this, I am watching Blue Planet for real 🙂
Yet more novelty for the afternoon as we put the washing machine into use at sea for the first time, by sunset I have clean and dry laundry!!
So the day was just too busy to catch up on any sleep. As I write this I’m on the 2000 – 0000 watch, I’m sat on deck under a nearly full really bright moon, you could almost read a book out here it is so light, too light for the stars to be out and there is a full moon bow glowing around the moon above the masthead. I’ve just finished watching the final episode of Game of Thrones whilst sat on deck under the moonlight (yet more novelty).
It is 2340, I’d best go a wake our German crewman up now if I want to get off watch on time, he doesn’t seem to have grasped the concept of setting an alarm and being on deck early, I won’t be putting the kettle on for him. Then I’m off to bed until 0400, so I will see the sunrise in the morning, and maybe have another go at getting some star sights with the sextant (really really really tricky with the plastic sextant I have, but I’ll persevere) provided the clouds allow me to opportunity to do so.
As I write up the 0000 log entry I realised we are yet another whole degree further south… getting warmer! 24N now, another 4 degrees before the final turn to the west, maybe another gybe south tomorrow could be in order? At the moment we are cutting the Cape Verde corner, not much wind about anywhere it would seem, we’ll decide based on tomorrow’s weather download.