Days4&5 Tues/Wed 13/14th Oct 09 First flying fish - & repairs!

Dark, dark, dark...! No moon, just a few stars in a hazy sky. Some dew dripping off the boom. Very few 'diamonds' of phosphorescence. Then suddenly, a small pool of intense white light in our wake - and then another. Every now and then they flash on just below the surface of the sea.. and go just as quickly - seemingly relatively large beings - big jellyfish? I'd love to know but have no idea...

It's Wed night and we've picked up speed over the evening from the leisurely daytime progress we were making in gentle NE Trades under full canvas and quite a few clouds. Occasionally, we'd get up to 6 knots when the wind teasingly picked up for a short while .. and sometimes down to 4, at which point I'd be feeling guilty for not bothering to get out the asymmetric. (Interrupted as I wrote this - just had to get up on deck hurriedly to take in a reef - wind had picked up & we had turned more upwind, & off-course, with the Hydrovane struggling to keep control against the over-powered mains'l. It's large & fully-battened. All fine & calm now!)

I'm making for East of the Cape Verde Islands since that route seems to offer the best wind, with a large high pressure area to the west killing the wind there. But I don't want to go too close to the W. African coast since there's a chance of losing the wind ... I'm trying to keep a middle course while keeping out of the way of the coastal traffic .... of which there's LOTS!! So many ships.... I'm so pleased to be transmitting on AIS, since I'm sure that's why they seem to be keeping well out of my way!

I'm spending a lot of time pondering routeing across the Doldrums and down into the S. Atlantic towards the Cape of Good Hope - won't be easy to get it right, with both the ITCZ and St Helena high pressure area constantly moving!! But I'll probably have to get fairly close to Brazil to keep favourable winds and not get headed. I'll probably have to head quite a way S before I can turn E towards S. Africa, keeping a look out for depressions coming up from Cape Horn as I do so....

Tuesday's main news event came after a day of mainly gentle, often very slow, sailing after I'd gybed in the late afternoon to make a more southerly course. I was looking up at the mains'l, on the side that had previously been hidden from me, and spotted that the second reef line was badly chafed not far from the shackle holding it to the luff of the sail. I had to lower the sail to reach the shackle, remove it and cut away the section of line before I could re-tie onto the shackle & replace it. Sealing the end of the cut line was difficult in the wind and it all took a time.... Before hoisting the sail again, I checked the first reef point carefully - a similar problem, although nothing like as bad, right by the knot onto the shackle - better to deal with it now than regret it later... "Manana" is not a good attitude on a boat...!! I just managed to hoist the sail finally before dark. I'm suspecting the hard sail fabric as the cause - and I'm not too happy about this particular problem showing itself so early in my journey since I expect to reef a lot ....

The other problem showed up on starting the generator that evening to charge the batteries, when I put on the watermaker. (Not that I need the water, but just to keep it running well - "Run it often & it'll give no trouble," I'd been told.) I found only one of the two pumps was running.... I'm hoping it's just a wiring/connection problem which will be simple to find and fix.

Wednesday's problem was the kicker - I saw spots of oil on deck below its lower end - and have emailed for advice. The gas-filled rod-kicker is good in supporting the boom, but I do have a topping lift as a back up - although that's also supposed to be the halyard for the trysail.

But the good news of the day was - a FLYING FISH!! We're definitely in the Tropics! I found it on deck in the morning when I checked around.....

Fruit - is rapidly ripening! I'm having to keep an eye on it and I'm eating lots (enjoyed papaya for breakfast!.) Soft fruit won't last much longer, but apples and citrus should be fine, along with potatoes and onions. Eating well while fresh food lasts!

'Distance Made Good' (noon-to-noon positions):
Tuesday 13 Oct: 125M; Wednesday 14 Oct: 122M
Not too bad considering downwind sailing in rather light winds (mainly NNE-NE4, ~12knots) under windsteering...
Getting warm and humid: 28C both daytime air and sea! 66% humidity Mainly just a few clouds.

Written by : Mike

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