Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Off Cape Verdes

It's been a long day which started for me at 2.30am. Normally I take the watch from 6pm to midnight and Ellen continues from midnight through to 6am. I awoke at 2.30 to the sound of the engine stopping. I assumed that Ellen had decided there was enough wind to sail and as I was awake I thought I'd see if she needed a hand. I emerged to find Ellen mildly flustered - she hadn't touched the engine - it stopped by itself. Hmmm, thoughts of expensive problems started running through my mind and no chance of sleep without some attempt to trace the problem.

After much investigation I discovered that the fuel pipe feeding the primary fuel filter was blocked. The fix was to blow down the diesel fuel gauge pipe to dislodge the blockage. By 7.30 all was running smoothly again, although the engine wasn't needed as a fresh SE wind had started blowing. Around mid-day the wind backed to the NE and further sail faff ensued to construct our downwind rig. Since then the wind direction has stayed constant, but the strength has varied from 10 - 25knots, requiring reefs in the genoas and main. George, our windvane steering, seems to struggle keeping a straight course above 6.5knots. The course yaws unacceptably which causes a ridiculous amount of rolling. Having said that we don't do a lot better ourselves when we hand-steer.

Kika's first flying fish jumped/flew into the cockpit last night. To make amends for yesterday's fish butchery, Ellen managed to pick it up and pop it back in the water before too much damage was done.

We both noticed a pleasant sweet smell in the cockpit and when we saw the outer Cape Verde Islands this afternoon I assumed it was the "smell of land". Sadly it turned out to be a sun tan lotion bottle which had spewed its contents into the cockpit drains. L'eau de Kika cockpit now consists of "Sahara tested" Piz Buin lotion, diesel, dodgy Portuguese fishing killing fire water, scaly fish remains - A close analogy would be a filling station by the sea with attached pharmacy, used as a meeting point for the local alcoholics.

Ellen's sea-legs have still to arrive. We have a theory that the Avomine Ellen took for the first 3 days suppressed her acclimatisation. Saturday was Ellen's first Avomine free day and as the sea was smooth all was well. Sunday was choppy and she's been sick ever since. Today is the third day of sickness, we're hoping that her sea legs will arrive at any time, but we are both a bit concerned in case this doesn't happen.

Position at 14.10 UTC: 17deg 52'N 25deg 25'W.
Daily distance run: 100nm; cumulative distance: 835:
Engine hours: 9.5
Distance to go: ~ 1865nm
Conditions: NE 10-25knots, moderate sea,
1011 millibars in

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