Thursday, June 07, 2007

Wednesday 6th June

At sea

0 43.943 N
81 44.693 W (at Midnight)

We went through 2 watches and then Gerry came up from his sleep to take over the third watch and we reassessed the sailing conditions. We were having to drop further and further south to keep the sails full and at this point were about 46 miles north of the Equator; in keeping on this course we were loosing any westward progress we had been making so the time to alter course had come. We decided to be easy on ourselves and furled the jib away before tacking – altering the boat heading by 100 degrees, then we let the jib back out again; I have to say it was a little depressing to see the northerly latitude increasing again as we began to head to the north west but at least now the westerly longitude was heading in the right direction also increasing. The Galapagos lies just south of the Equator and at 89 degrees west – this is our aiming point and we have to alter course to make the best use of the wind to get us there. The biggest problem with our change of direction was that the swell was now more on the nose than on the previous tack, this meant that we were bashing into the sea a bit more which is never very comfortable and neither is it much good for the boat. Going down below for my sleep I now found myself almost standing up in the bed as we were heeled over so far. Once the day dawned and we were both on deck I cooked breakfast then Gerry decided he needed another sleep, we were both still quite tired from the night. I read my book until he resurfaced about an hour later, saying he felt a bit better. Whilst he had been sleeping and we continued to sail on in the middle of nowhere I suddenly spotted a lone fishing boat, I couldn’t believe that it was so far out from land by its self. I could see only one person on the boat and they waved at our boat as we went past, I did the right thing and waved back – very cautiously as I didn’t want to encourage a visit in the middle of nowhere with Gerry asleep down below. My worry was groundless; the fisherman was just being friendly and kept moving away from us. My fear now was that there were going to be more damn drift nets for the boat to snag. I spotted the flag to show the end of the line, luckily it was at least a mile off to our port side – there was no way we were going to snag those lines. By mid afternoon Gerry was getting increasingly concerned that we were heading too far north and not enough to the west – own up who keeps changing the wind direction? He yelled for me to come up on deck (I was preparing dinner at the time) as he was going to tack for the second time. We furled the jib, tacked and let the jib back out, our heading was now slightly west of south, unless there is a massive wind shift we will have to tack again to get us to the Galapagos. The trouble with tacking backwards and forwards is that you seem to cover a lot of ground without getting any closer to your destination – still I guess that’s sailing for you. When we looked at the ground we had covered it looked as if we had only done 67miles in a straight line but if you take into account the tacking we had actually covered 107 miles – this is borne out by the trip meter on the boat. I went back to preparing dinner, which is not an easy task with the boat heeled over, everything slides away from you then comes flying back at an alarming rate, hot fat or liquid becomes a real threat, pans hurtle towards you when you least expect it, anything with round edges like onions roll into places that are too difficult to retrieve them from, the water in the sink won’t go down the plug hole, and just as the airlines warn you – be careful when opening the lockers as things definitely do shift! I managed to finish the preparation and returned to the cockpit to await the allotted cooking time. We suddenly saw 2 dolphins leap out of the water on our starboard side; they swam across the bow of the boat and leapt again on the port side then vanished for good. We didn’t catch any fish, I’m really missing my favourite pink lure, the fish aren’t going for the new pink and blue one with bells and whistles attached to it. We ate dinner, watched an "almost sun set" – there was so much cloud that we couldn’t actually see the sun at all, then began our night watches. We started the engine just before I went below to have my first sleep; we were making progress but wanted to push the boat westwards as much as possible whilst making use of the 12 knots of wind which was driving the boat southwards. When I reappeared on deck to take over the watch Gerry had acquired a couple of "friends", first a squid had landed on the deck. He tried to flick it back in the water but it got stuck on the swim ladder and eventually died. A bird was also keeping him company, at first Gerry thought it was looking for a resting place to land but then realised that it was fishing in the wake that we were creating, this bird followed us for the next 3 hours. The stars were actually visible for the first time in days but the moon was well hidden behind an enormous black cloud which was off to our port side and went on for miles. For the remained of the night we saw no other boats but it was definitely too cold to strip our clothes off, we aren’t sure if we are being whimps but we are finding it quite cold and both ended up wearing our track suits for a good part of the evening and night – and we are only a few miles off of the Equator!



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