I truly love this bit of the day; the deck and helm safe in competent hands, the rest of the crew fast asleep, and a wonderful sense of peace below decks.
The kite is still up, and neither living up to its name as ‘Jetsam’, or as ‘Hand Grenade’, for now… It is currently 4am on Discoverer time, which is 11am back in the UK. The night outside is dark, but holds no drama it seems. Jonathan has just taken the helm off me, and is currently driving us straight and true towards the horizon. Jetsam is flying ahead of us, lightly illuminated by our mid-mast steaming light so we can better helm to it, the 30ft spinnaker pole silhouetted off to starboard, holding the windward clew firmly in place.
Down below all is still, the main corridor leading forward between the cabins is bathed in red light, the saloon with a solitary red light shining on a the remnants of an excellent dinner alongside a variety of bakery achievements, and my nav station with the soft yellow glow of the chart light and the backlight of the VHF radio keeping a watchful eye on the airwaves the brightest part of our little slice of ocean right now. I truly love this bit of the day; the deck and helm safe in competent hands, the rest of the crew fast asleep, and a wonderful sense of peace below decks. It’s the best time for me to potter around, checking and tinkering with various bits of boat, occasionally looking in the cabins to make sure no one has fallen out of their bunks. For some reason I’m always worried about people falling out of their beds, even when we’re not heeling over that much. I’ve done it – it hurts.
One absent light source down below is the normally Omni-present glow of the chart plotter. In part an effort to remove the easy habit of ‘counting down the miles’, and for a nice change, we’re taking away the ‘numbers’ that are so easy to end up chasing, have turned off most of our electronics, and are just steering to the sails and the compass for a while. In the sense of our course and wind angles to Hawaii, the exact course and speed we are doing is fairly irrelevant. With the wind angle we currently have and the kite up, we just steer a good broad reach, coming up slightly in the lulls, bearing off in the stronger breeze. The course for the most part, looks after itself. It will also be interesting to do some dead reckoning on the paper charts, and brush off some lesser-used chart skills, that easily go rusty over time.
Up top, the beanbag has been broken out to offer a modicum of comfort to those on deck. With the kite up at night, we are running with a second person keeping a eye on the less experienced helms, just for a bit of reassurance in the trickier moments when faced with a unexpected swell and a starless night ahead. Having something comfy to sit while watching the Windex move against the sky above makes it much more enjoyable, as Disco is pretty short on comfort around the deck, with the cold stainless steel surfaces delivering little on that front. This beanbag is well travelled now, previously belonging to my old skipper Burkes (old in both senses of the word 😉 ), and before him another skipper Rich Gould. I don’t think either it or they would have ever expected it to be doing another stint in the North Pacific, albeit a warmer section than that last travelled back in 2014.
On the subject of well travelled, I bet my mum never expected the nice stainless steel cafetière she bought me several years ago would end up nearly 15,000nm round the world. Then again, she probably didn’t expect me to take it to construction sites around London either. All things considered, it still looks good as new, and certainly performs the second most important job on the boat (the most important job being the kettle, to produce the hot water in the first place). Between a stint helming on deck and sitting down to write this I’ve just polished off an entire brew of coffee, and can attest that it is still in full working order. It gets religiously cleaned once a week to ensure it doesn’t go rusty in our normal salt-water washing up routine. Deserves its own maintenance schedule really.
I forgot to mention the ‘upgrade’ to the saloon that took place a few days ago. Having previously not been using the Weatherfax machine so extensively, there had never been the need to deal with the various bits of imagery and data it churns out. With it now being a nearly daily occurrence, a system was definitely required, as my nav station was rapidly turning into a distant memory, buried under 6 inches of thermal paper. I’ve pinched an idea from Dr Spike, our telemedicine support specialist of MSOS, who quite coincidentally sailed around the world on Disco’s sister boat back in the BT Global Challenge days. He told me as tactician on his boat, Toshiba, he would peg the Weatherfaxes up so they could be easily displayed. I’ve gone to town with this concept; string and pegs now adorn the galley, with all the relevant information displayed in a well-ordered fashion, colour-coded pegs and all. I pretty sure the crew thinks I’ve taken it too far, and the end result a tad excessive. I’m not sure if it’s exactly what Spike meant, but I think it looks pretty cool. Thanks Spike, for once again another bit of support that goes far beyond his remit as our remote doctor.
Back to making sure everyone is still in their bunks for me…
Date: 22nd May 2017
Position: 25°37.1N 139° 42.5W
Wind: NE 2-3
Swell: ENE 2-3ft
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