Thursday, December 15, 2005

Flying fish spotting

I spoke too soon yesterday - the wind died in the evening and by 23.00 we were only managing 1.5knots under sail. The lack of wind to fill the sails means they flog in the slight swell, which in turn makes the rig vibrate and sleep difficult. So we gave in and started motoring. Periodically, throughout the day, the wind has teased us by increasing in strength at which point we dutifully hoist the sails and kill the engine only for it to disappear a few minutes later. The wind is only set to re-appear on Sunday, but we're hoping for some light winds tomorrow to enable us to conserve our diesel.

The big news today is that Ellen's sea-legs appear to have returned. Hopefully we can confirm tomorrow.

With the engine running, the foredeck is the quietest part of the boat. So we found ourselves looking out over the still sea this afternoon. Occasionally we'd see a flying-fish jump out of the water and fly for around 100m before returning to the sea. We initially mistook them for small birds such is their ability to glide over the waves.

One of the challenges of significant motoring is how to top-up the fuel tank without causing a major international pollution incident. I've tried various systems of funnels and spouts but the rolling of the boat combined with the weight of the diesel can has always meant a portion of the diesel has escaped from the fuel tank. Back in northern Spain I spotted Pieter on Orion with a cunning syphon tube - there's an end-fitting which contains a ball-bearing and acts as a non-return valve. You jiggle the tube in the diesel can, the tube fills with fuel until the diesel starts syphoning into the fuel tank. Its a simple invention that's a joy to use. Ours arrived on Kika via a combination of e-commerce and parent post (reliable and cost-effective).

It's now 1am on a warm night with a cool breeze, the engine is off, we're making 4knots under sail and dolphins have joined us. This is more like it.

Position at 14.00 UTC: 15deg 45'N 28deg 33'W.
Daily distance run: ~115nm; cumulative distance: 1080:
Engine hours: 15
Distance to go: ~ 1620nm
Conditions: NE 5 knots, slight sea,
1009 millibars

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