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[ THE WIRE ] Skipper’s Report

14th January 2017
Time: 1825z
Position: 24°17.6N 021°07.3W
COG: 220°T
SOG: 8.5kts
Wind: ENE5
Swell: E 4-6ft
Sky: 0/8
Weather: Just lovely.

Hello from the Cape Verde Abyssal Plain. Sounds suitably dramatic doesn’t it? While the cartographical name of the particular bit of ocean we are currently sailing might sound it, our day has been anything but.

Consistent is probably the best way to describe the sailing thus far, but it makes it sound a bit dull really. It’s not dull by any degree, but certainly not up there with the excitement and occasional sensationalism of the leg down and entrance into Gran Canaria.

The wind has stayed steady since shortly after we departed, so there’s not the normal routine of sail changes as we attempt to adapt to the ever-changing demands of Mother Nature to allow us to sail in the direction we want. It’s been fairly fast so far, and we’re all keen for that to continue. Disco is taking some getting used to as a downwind boat, as it’s a configuration we were yet to sail in quantity until leaving Pasito Blanco due to the slightly unfavourable wind on the trip down. No one will dispute that it’s a welcome relief from crashing into waves while heeled over to the extreme, but the swell is currently delivering a rather rolling and unstable feel to life aboard, and from the swearing that occasionally emanates from the galley I’m led to believe that cooking conditions aren’t ideal.

There’s also a whole new world of ‘boat noises’ to entertain, concern, learn, and eventually lull me. I’m now well attuned to the upwind crashing noises the steel hull makes, but a range of new gurgling and whooshing as fast water moves past the hull has kept me alert since leaving. I’m nearly there now…

The wind angle is desperate for a spinnaker, and I’m desperate to fly one. However, in my newfound depths of sense and sensibility (Yes Mr Burkes, I am yet to attempt to hold onto the yankee 3 in 50kts of wind!), I’m holding off until the swell is slightly more stable, and everyone well adjusted to the relatively new concept of helming the boat downwind.

Meanwhile the Projects Team has been hard at work again. This previously consisted of Henry and Seb, with myself in a consultation role. However, in the absence of Seb I have now had to step back up to a fully-fledged member of the Projects Team, and am happily blaming Seb for the fact I have just covered my laptop in oil while writing this.

The engine room has been cleaned to within an inch of its life, in yet another effort to discover the source of the minor oil leak from the main engine. Unfortunately, a very small amount of oil goes a very long way in a bilge space, and it continually looks like the engine has dumped its entire contents out, despite the fact this isn’t the case. Henry has declared it as ‘just an old engine kind of leak’. I’m not out of enthusiasm quite yet to discover the cause, but would quite like to spend at least one day not covered in oil.

Our other big result was fitting the new battery charger. It was eventually agreed that the red wire did in fact go to the red wire, and the black wire to the black wire. With this strange but documented logic behind us, the new charger has been connected, and I am currently watching the battery like a hawk as the comparative silence of the generator instead of the main engine runs its first charge cycle. Fingers (not wires) crossed.

The big discovery of the day was when the morning watch suddenly realised they could lie in the fold created by the first reef of the mainsail underneath the boom, like a giant sail hammock hung over the moving water to leeward. Childlike delight was displayed by all involved, with both Henry and Ty deciding to get in together. While they shared an intimate moment bundled up in the folds of canvas together, I jumped on the wheel and luffed the boat up, achieving my goal of scaring them to the point of everyone else’s entertainment.

I will admit, it looked like such fun I even got in myself, but decided it was in fact too much fun, so immediately shook the reef back out to full main, just to make sure there were no more distractions from the importance of sailing. However, having just finished reading a book on Captain Bligh’s boat journey in small rowing launch across the Pacific after the munity of the Bounty, maybe I should take care with that one.

We’re back to our Abyssal Plain sailing. Hope you’re having as exciting an evening too.

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