Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dolphins at sunset

So far the wind has lived up-to the forecast's billing of light and variable. That said when the wind arrives it makes for dream sailing - smooth progress over a flat sea, with just the faint sound of the water lapping around the bow to break the silence.

The light winds are the result of a high sitting to my north, I was hoping the high pressure would impose a stronger easterly flow; each time the wind picks up I assume it's here to stay unfortunately it seems to vanish within an hour. I raised the spinnaker to try to make the most of the little wind there is. It's ideal spinnaker conditions, with no swell to unsettle the sail. In this configuration we sailed all afternoon making 1-3 knots, In the lulls I was reluctant to lower the spinnaker knowing the effort required to raise it again if the wind returned, however I finally gave in when the log read 0.0 knots.

Plenty of shipping about - there's normally at least one ship or fishing boat on the horizon - but no collision courses yet.

I set off without my usual frenzied dash around the markets for fresh provisions. Consequently I'm already having to ration onions. I've eaten the delicious peaches I bought, the fresh basil has died, but the rosemary I took from Isola Marettimo is lasting well - I think I'll survive though.

Despite being 50 miles off I can see the hills of Algeria to my south - be great if they could send some wind my way.

Plenty of wildlife today, with initially a couple of airborne visitors; a moth and a dragon-fly. The dragon-fly choose to perch itself preciously on top of the VHF aerial and the moth sunned itself on the corner of the spinnaker until I was forced to remove it before I dropped the sail. A couple more turtles floated close by and as the sun set, a school of dolphins joined me. I never tire of dolphin visits and this was especially memorable, with the calm clear water I could watch their antics far beneath the surface.

Some of them would swim briefly on their sides, seeming to watch me, watching them. As I stood at bow marvelling at their display, another school headed over, leaping out of the air as they rapidly converged. If they'd arrived five minutes later it wouldn't have been so spectacular as a slight wind rippled the surface, but as it was the timing was perfect. To add to the magic, a group of small tunas mocked my fishing attempts by jumping out of the water to the north, a turtle raised its head just in front of the boat and the reflection of the sun on the clouds covered the sea in gold leaf.

The dragon fly has moved its perch to a stanchion - but it still looks precarious. I've left some water out for it. I wonder if scientists in years to come will debate how the Algerian dragon-fly managed to the journey to the Azores?

Position @ 11.30 30th June: N37deg 40.3' Edeg52.7'

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