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SHTP Day 12 - First flying fish!

Well, over the last few days, I've very slowly been discarding layers - and today I finally got down to almost the last one. (Next is bare skin - with a covering of high-factor sunblock, I hasten to add!)
It's 2pm and the NW quadrant of sky is blue, with cloud overhead but the sun is trying to get out. The sea is a beautiful deep shade of blue, rather than the grey-green it was further north. It actually feels warm and I've bare feet at last. Sea temperature is up to 21.6C (71.9F) - not quite up to Bonaire standards (28C) but getting there. Definitely a lot better than the 10-12C of the Pacific NW area I've been in for the last year!
Lunch was quesadilla using tortillas I bought for the trip - still some left. Still a few tomatoes left that haven't gone rotten, plenty of onions, potatoes and white cabbage (that always lasts well), bananas over-ripening, apples fine, grapefruit & lemons fine.
Just before midday, as I was adjusting (the Windpilot) Hermann, I spotted a good-sized flying fish skimming the waves for quite a distance - always an amazing sight. So far my tally on baby squid found on deck after the night is just three.
The wind is beginning to die as it did around this time yesterday. We were doing very well until a short while ago - regularly up to 7.5 kn in winds of 16-18kn from the NE, with asymmetric spinnaker and full main & genoa, but now we're doing 6.5. I took the spinnaker down overnight, although very tempted to leave it up because the wind was not so strong. Good decision because the wind got up again later and over the night.
I thought my fridge was giving up because I kept hearing the motor try, and fail, to start up. But then I realised that was not so - if my battery voltage has dropped down to below a certain value, the compressor motor recognises that and refuses to run when switched on via the thermostat. My Link 10 allows me to monitor the battery state & I tend to run my generator twice daily, normally coinciding with SSB usage for racefleet roll-call/emails/weather downloads.
This morning's 6Mhz rollcall was again very frustrating - I could, as always, hear everyone fairly clearly - but they could not hear me. On 4Mhz I made contact with Lou on 'Seabird' so could give my posn details to be relayed to Rob on 'Tiger Beetle'. Lou doesn't dare transmit on 6Mhz because it 'kills' his autopilot - and being on almost a dead run, heading south still, he could end up in trouble.
Heard a very useful discussion on hoisting the spinnaker after the rollcall. General plan for a safe, controlled hoist is to raise it fully in its sock, then raise the sock about one-third, amble aft to adjust the guy lengths with lower third of spinnaker flying (not too strongly) in the wind, so making it possible to see exactly what lengths are needed, then finish raising it fully and make fine adjustments to guy lengths if needed. It works well! I presume to drop it safely, I do everything in reverse - I've already discovered that the wind is pretty good at trying to make me do some para-sailing - which thought doesn't exactly enthrall me! I have to anchor the sock leads pretty firmly while I'm trying to lower the sock - it definitely has a mind of its own! Prior to this passage, I think I've had the spinnaker up about three or four times only in total over the years!! Another learning curve.... But it looks beautiful up there.
Just tried to chat on SSB (6Mhz) to people near-ish me. Managed to speak to Paul on 'Hesperus' but Bill on 'Ergo' and Chris on 'Carroll E' clearly couldn't hear me. Maybe we should try 4Mhz. I think I need to check that I am pressing firmly on the transmitter switch on the microphone - I noticed at one point that I wasn't transmitting while I was speaking - good reason for people to have trouble hearing me! Hope it's me and not the switch going. Talking of electrics, I've discovered that my PC mains charger only switches itself off when I turn on or off the generator - maybe there's a 'spike' in power that it doesn't like? If I unplug it, leave it for several minutes and then plug it back in - it works fine. Obviously it's too smart for my good!

Think I'll go and lie in the cockpit and have a snooze, leaving good old Hermann in charge....

Written by : Mike

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