I woke up for 0600 this morning to us motoring in no breeze. It is a risky strategy, but we need to get to 22N 037W by Sunday evening if we have any hope of finding any breeze for the next week. For those of you that have seen The Never Ending Story, “The Nothing” is chasing us, a big hole of no breeze growing over hundreds of miles behind us. There is literally no wind, but a long big swell running from the NNE.
We had a brief but big rain shower and shortly after it dodged what looked like the formation of a mini tornado down at sea level, similar to the dust devils you get flying off the beach at home in a big nor’westerly, except this was on the sea and very visible. It looked threatening, so I opted for a large course alteration to pass upwind of it. It must have been some kind of vortex spun down from the cloud in the shower, certainly strange.
Then another strange thing happened… a dragonfly landed on the boat. We are around 800 miles from the nearest land (Cape Verde Islands), so where this poor thing had come from or was going to I have no idea. It flew away and then reappeared about half an hour later, this time I tried to give it some honey, it sat on my hand for a while and then the bloomin’ thing bit me! Yep, just charged it’s teeth straight into my hand, it hurt more than horsefly and drew blood!! Maybe that is what is was after and not the sweet nectar honey. I put him down after that. He’s gone now.
I spent the early part of my shift doing a stock take of stores, we still have long way to go, and it doesn’t look like we are going to get there quickly. We have plenty of dried goods, pasta, rice etc, some spuds left, loads of onions, eggs, and probably just about enough tinned stuff to survive. I don’t fancy our chances if we are another 3 weeks out here though (which at present looks like it could happen), there is of course still the tinned Ravioli if things get desperate. Having a fully functioning water maker is a blessing, we can wash, shower and drink, so ship stores of bottled and emergency water are still high.
We definitely have a large mouse on the boat. Most of the biscuits are gone, along with most of the chocolate. If our progress slows any further it will be time for emergency measures (yep, stashing some tins of useful food in my cabin). A couple of our crew will both last an Arctic winter on their own body stores, I won’t!
Must dash in a moment for the only thing that has to happen on time in the day…. Noon sight o’clock, which today is around 1405 and 20s on my GMT clock, 1205 ship time.
Back now into the cool of my cabin and with apparent wind on the bow I have a lovely cool draught running through here – aaahhh.
An updated forecast shows there should be breeze from 40W on Sunday on through into next week, and it looks steady enough to get us to the Caribbean, so we are not quite burning the black smoke, but have put the hammers down a bit more to hopefully out run The Nothing and find that breeze. It is a big ask, 300 miles in the next 48 hours, but this gamble should hopefully pay off.
Thus far our mathematician crewman has been in charge of the fuel consumption calculations. Unfortunately this brand new boat did not come with a fuel consumption graph. Yesterday he reckoned we had 8.75 days of motoring. 8.75 days at 6 knots (assuming flattish seas) is 1152 miles, by my reckoning. He quoted we use 3.5 litres per hour at 1600rpm, so that makes my estimation (probably too generous) but even more optimistic 228 hours, 1371 miles at 6 knots.
Presently we are 1500 miles away from Antigua, so things are looking up! I am more relaxed about burning fuel we have used to escape The Nothing that threatens to encompass us here in the middle of ocean. Cat sailing does have its benefits, two engines, two fuel tanks, 1000 litre tank capacity and of course the washing machine 🙂
It is a beautiful evening, all the stars are out, the milky way is so clear from NE horizon to SW horizon. Night sailing is definitely my favourite part, there is so much more to look at. Tonight the ocean is still, we are motoring quietly through phosphoresence, the sea has merged with the sky it is so calm. Orion is lying on his side lighting up the eastern sky, everything is so clear it is just amazing. I sit on the comfy cushions on the top deck totally undisturbed by the other person on watch. So far on this trip I reckon I have seen over 50 shooting stars, including two huge ones.
I’ve hardly sat in the helm seat at all, the autopilot has it well under control and even with the dimmers on the instruments are too bright and too in my face. Everyone sails by computer and instruments these days it would seem, I’m still sailing by feel, I like to feel the wind on my face and to see the sky.
Just after 0200 a beautiful moon rises like a big cheshire cat orange smile in the eastern sky. At around 0530 I had another attempt at taking star sights to obtain a position fix. In theory I should be able to sleep until noon now, then take a sun sight for latitude. We are still motoring, there is still no wind, Sleeping Beauty is still impossible to wake up! As I left the deck Venus has just risen in conjunction with another planet in the eastern sky, the sun will surely follow. Clouds on the NE horizon, hopefully they will bring the breeze we’re looking for by the time I wake up?? 0604 am I’m going to sleep…zzzzzz