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[ THE WIRE ] Skipper’s Report

31st December 2016
Time: 1919
Position: 39°55.5N 009°59.2W
COG: 180°T
SOG: 6kts
Wind: SSE 1
Swell: SE 1-2ft
Sky: 2/8
Weather: Good

I’ve just been handed a fresh espresso. How did it take me until day 6 to discover we had the ability to create fresh espresso shots? I just don’t understand.

You were last left with Henry’s haircut, more blocked toilets, and no wind. I won’t talk about Henry’s haircut. I can’t talk about the plumbing (the bit in my mind that suppresses severe trauma won’t let me). I will talk about how we flew our cable tied genoa all night long without a hitch.

It began with ‘someone’ letting the engine run out of diesel. Each watch has a list of duties to carry out when they are ‘on’. These include hourly log entries, bilge checks, some domestic bits and bobs, checking the day tank still has enough diesel in it, etc, etc. The afternoon watch, who shall remain nameless, decided to have a rather relaxed afternoon, albeit with some focus on other issues, but not enough focus to justify not doing a single log or check. This only came to light as the engine spluttered and died under my feet shortly after they’d gone to bed.

As we were right in the middle of various bits of shipping the genoa went up to get us properly moving again, and the spanners were out to bleed the engine fuel lines. However, once the engine was going again, the deck reported that the sailing angle and speed was in fact quite satisfactory. Not enough to get the watch in question off the hook, but it was nice to inadvertently discover we could sail again. To their credit, the offenders have grafted hard every watch since, keeping the boat and systems better checked than ever before.

Good sailing and speed continued all the way through to 3am, with the aforementioned cable ties, that had only been expected to last a couple of hours at best, keeping on holding. Completely ruined our sweepstake on that one, as the most exuberant estimations had only ranged up to a few hours. Turns out cable ties are the new hanks!

After many fun hours of ‘proper’ night sailing with a truly stunning starscape above us, the wind had moved forward enough to be pushing my estimated max apparent wind speed for cable ties past their generously assumed threshold. It was watch change anyway, so the off-watch were up, but I hurried them on deck without the usual relaxed coffee first, and we were soon changing back to the sails with more customary brass hanks. As this was in progress we were treated to a cracking display of marine life, with numerous dolphins chasing tiny squid around the boat, jumping out of the water to snap them up. Joe was on the helm with a searchlight in one hand tracking them through the water, with the squid reflecting as a bright amber sparkle, and the dolphins white blurs under the surface as they twisted and turned in a bid to catch their prey, all the while the watery bioluminescence glowing brightly around everything that moved. Between Joe waving the wand of light on the helm, the well oiled machine of a foredeck team working away up front, and the dolphin show, it was a pretty cool 30 minutes.

Later in the morning the wind eased and the angle became less sailable, so Penelope was once again called upon to propel us south in style. The sun is growing warmer, and the deck a gradually nicer place to relax when off watch. Today we had our first meal with everyone sat round together on deck, which was a very civilised affair. I took the opportunity to do a little run through with everyone about how they thought it was all going, and talk through some routing options for the next few days. It turns out everyone is actually having a good time, and not just pretending, which is nice. We’ve a few weather routing decisions to make in the near future, which the crew are pretty unanimous about an approach, leaving me to work out a few bits and make a final decision soon.

Seeing as it’s NYE today, the late evening watch have agreed to stay up past their bedtime and do a little Team Disco party, which will be an interesting affair sans alcohol. Back to it, and Happy New Year from everyone on a little boat called Discoverer at 39°56N 009°59W.

(Upon finishing writing this I’ve just been wordlessly handed another coffee – bloody good team this lot).

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