Thursday, December 29, 2005

Slow progress in light winds

My early morning watch was quite hectic yesterday, involving some bread baking, a radio call and a squall all at the same time. The squall began almost without warning, and conditions soon made it difficult to reef the sails. Poor Nick was in a deep sleep and had to be roused for assistance. Not a nice wakeup call. The squall meant I neglected my dough and this may have had something to do with it not rising sufficiently. As a result, our breakfast loaf was quite 'dense' but delicious nonetheless.

The winds gradually tailed off yesterday, and we both got sick of Kika wallowing in the waves so we decided some serious sail faff was in order. Firstly we took the main down (it's been up for so long that most of the sail ties had been appropriated for other jobs and we had to have a hunt round for them) and tried with the 2 genoas but the pole-less one kept collapsing, so we decided to drop them both, and re-hoist our small genoa only on the furling gear. This worked ok but we weren't getting much speed and we both knew what these light winds really called for ......the cruising chute! So we hoisted that and sailed beautifully for about 6 hours until my watch time was hailed by another squall. Again, this picked up very quickly and sent the chute out of control. We managed to drop it in the nick of time but only with both of us using all our strength.

Other notable events of yesterday include my hat blowing off in a gust of wind (and although man/hat overboard drill quickly ensued, we could only watch as it sank to an irretrievable depth) and my first shark sighting. It wasn't a particularly large shark but it still felt menacing. It slipped out of sight very quickly and soundlessly, not at all like a dolphin which likes you to know it's there and is unmistakable by it's breathing.

So, it looks like we should make landfall on Friday noonish. We're hoping to arrive in daylight as the entry is quite tricky. The buoyage system is different from Europe in that as you enter an estuary, the green are to port and red are to starboard (at home, you have the reversed buoys on your way OUT of the estuary which makes sense as you have just set off on your journey and are probably more alert than if you've been crossing an ocean for a month!) What a nightmare!

Our decorations are looking pretty sad. The balloons are a bit deflated and the paper chains keep coming unstuck. The blutak can't cope with the rolling!

Position at 15.50 UTC: 15deg 06'N, 57deg 25'W
Daily distance run: 125nm; cumulative distance: 2762:
Engine hours: 0
Distance to go: ~ 206nm
Conditions: NE 6-10 knots, moderate sea, 1011 millibars

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