Thursday, June 07, 2007

Tuesday 5th June

At sea

0 58.824 N
80 45.926 W (at Midnight)

Many happy returns of the day Thomas, we hope your 17th year is a good one.

Gerry had one incident during the night that is worth telling, he picked up a boat on radar during the early hours of the morning and saw the lights heading our way, it was 6 miles off when he picked it up on radar. Gerry said he saw 2 white lights and the green navigation light; the radar was showing him on a direct collision course with us. As we were hard on to the wind on a starboard tack Gerry radioed the boat and asked them their intentions, the first call went unanswered and by now the boat was 3 miles off. A second call received a reply, and Gerry explained that we could not alter course to starboard could the boat alter to starboard so that we could pass port to port safely, he agreed but in the end did nothing and Gerry had to turn the motor on and alter course to port to avoid a c
ollision. You have to wonder what some people are thinking!
I can’t believe this, the sky was still cloudy and grey, the swell was bearable and the wind got up to 22 knots as the day dawned. The good thing about that is that we were able to sail all night, saving our fuel for when the wind gets really light. The day followed the usual routine of running the generator to top up the battery bank, run the fridge and freezer to keep it cool, make some water (not much though as we were heeled over and it wasn’t comfortable being below watching the dials on the water maker). We had a picnic breakfast followed by showers and were sitting in the cockpit reading when we suddenly we spotted a flag in the water bobbing up and down, not quite sure what to make of it we avoided it, we speculated what a flag was doing out this far – we were about 100miles off the coast of Colombia and who knows what might be in the water here waiting to be picked up!. Next thing we know we run over a plastic bottle with fishing line attached to it – a drift net no less and yes we caught it. Gerry cursed and we watched as 2 blue line appeared out of the back of the transom, may be all was not lost, it didn’t appear to be wrapped around the prop shaft. Gerry attached the harness to his life jacket and climbed over the back of the boat with boat hook in hand, I found the boat knife and waited to cut the line free; it wasn’t a happening thing! The lines went out to the starboard side of the boat and Gerry climbed back in, the only way we were going to get the line was to stop the boat. We furled the jib away and went fishing with the boat hooks, luckily the lines were bright blue and easy to spot, Gerry hooked the line and we cut them loose, happily for us they drifted away with no further entanglement, I was sure the fishermen would be upset but not as upset as it had made us! We made our way back on to track and let the jib out again. A short while later a small motor fishing boat appeared out of nowhere and began heading towards us – it was a bit nerve wracking as we were alone in the middle of nowhere, yes we had clothes on! Gerry sent me below to get the flare gun, just in case; the boat approached and the 3 fishermen asked Gerry for something, down below I couldn’t hear what. Gerry called out to me to bring up 3 beers which I did, he threw them across to the fishermen and happily they waved goodbye and went off in the opposite direction. Gerry said they had actually asked for food – I guess beer counts! It did make us feel a bit uneasy and wary and brought home the fact that we only have ourselves to rely on out here. As we continued on our way we came across more drift nets, they were hundreds of yards long each time and we managed to hook 2 of them round the keel but were able to unhook them without cutting them. We couldn’t believe the length of the lines they were marked with plastic bottles which could barely be seen above the waves; we considered ourselves lucky not to get them tangled in the prop shaft. We continued to sail south paralleling the coast of Ecuador and as night fell we were surrounded by half a dozen small lights which we think were fishing boats – amazing what’s out there! Just before we began our night watches we discussed when we should tack. Up until now we had been continuously on a starboard tack heading south and we needed to go further west towards the Galapagos however as we were sailing quite nicely we deferred the moment for a few more hours.



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