Perpetual motion

Position. 18 43’N. 033 33’W
Wind. E15-20 knots
Course. 265
Distance run. 172 nautical miles.

For me, the hardest part of these long distance passages is the perpetual motion. Which means that 24 hours a day, awake or asleep, you are never still.

It is particularly tiring on trade wind passages like this as we have wind of between 15 and 25 knots and waves about 12 feet high from right behind us. So we’re in a perpetual rhythm, wave comes up behind lifting Cherubino’s stern and she starts to surf down the wave. As we all know from watching Point Break, nobody surfs in a straight line, and Cherubino slews off to one side just like Keanu Reeves, tipping over as she goes. As the wave runs on past, she pops out the end, slumps in the trough, rolls back the other way and so the whole process starts again. Down below,in particular, this motion is exhausting as you don’t actually see the waves coming. Moving about requires careful planning and strategic lunges for the grab rails (which are not designed for Dora’s height as we have found out), or sideways shuffling, leaning against any immovable bulkhead, or locker. As you can imagine it all results in multiple bruises,stubbed toes and colourful language.

If you’re on land right now – stop and have a go (some imagination required!) – one hand must be free at all times to stabilise yourself and your floor is tipping to and fro and back and forth through 2-3 feet. Now think about making a cup of tea, cleaning your teeth, getting dressed crossing the room and don’t even get started on how to handle a pan of boiling pasta water.

Surely some respite from all this once you’re lying down? Well no, not really. It is most akin to lying on a bouncy castle, wedged in between pillow and wall with a couple of sumo wrestlers getting stuck into each other next to you.

But the relief of arriving and finally stepping on dry land in Martinique? Well, yes, it is my current daydream. But the reality is that on arrival we will be incapable of standing on a stable surface for a good few days and will stagger about like crazy drunkards until we acclimatise. Let’s hope our fellow sailors realise the cause and don’t assume Daisy and Dora have been at the rum.

Hard Yards

18.52N 030.29W
Wind NE25-28kts
Course. 265
Day’s run 163M

Its blowing pretty hard today with a heavy following sea, consequently we’re being thrown around a fair bit. After the excitement of getting going and then settling into shipboard life everyone’s feeling a bit jaded, aware that with a thousand miles behind us there are still two thousand to go.

At night Pols and I do two three hour watches each, Daisy joins the 6-9 sunset watch, while Dora tucks up for a 12h sleep as soon as it gets dark. Soon after the end of the sunrise watch we are all together for tea and ginger nuts before school starts for the girls (Headmistress; Polly, Janitor; your correspondent).

After the noon position is logged we wolf lunch and then it’s naps, books, sudoku until supper at five – we like to be fully cleared up before dark – and back into the watches.  No booze, simple food, lots of fresh air and sunshine – no wonder we’re longing for Martinique.

Water, water, everywhere

Position at noon: 19 14’ N. 027 30’W.

Wind. NNE 15 knots

Course. 270

Daily run. 143 miles

Every passage needs a drama or two and, apart from the girls’ sea sickness, we had been getting away with it so far. At lunch time, the sea imps caught up with us as rummaging through the lockers for some suitable morsels, I discovered we had about four inches of water swilling around our precious dry stores.

First reaction? Taste the water – if it’s salty you’re in real trouble. If it’s fresh, then it could be worse.

It was fresh and we quickly discovered that one of the water tanks had been seeping out of its inspection hatch and up into the bottom of the food locker each time we rolled. So we took all the cushions off the bunks, checked every inspection hatch to find the culprit, and realising the seal had gone, we improvised with a plastic bag laid carefully over the opening and screwed the lid back on.

To my delight this simple trick has so far held back our water supply for the next two weeks. Problem hopefully under control, we then started the clean up operation sending the food up on deck to the children to dry what was salvageable, and tackling the insides of the lockers below. Once mess cleared and order restored we celebrated the water left in the tank by treating ourselves to our first shower of the trip.

As a footnote to this, all our drinking water is kept in bottles separate from the main tanks , for this very eventuality – If we hadn’t been able to fix the problem we wouldn’t have died of thirst at least!

Done the South, now the West

Monday 4th

Noon Position 20N 25W

Day’s Run 180M

Wind NE 20-25 knots

After five days at sea we’re about 150 miles N of the Cape Verde Islands. Having made a good step SSW from the Canaries to pick up the trade winds we are now heading pretty much West directly toward Martinique. There is a new moon tomorrow so the nights are dark and the stars brilliant. We can see the Southern Cross shining to leeward while Polaris is still visible – if strangely low to North Sea eyes – off to windward.

We are about to change charts, from ‘Lisbon to Freetown’ to ‘North Atlantic, Southern Part’. The different scales (3.5m:1 on the former, 10m:1 on the latter) means our daily progress across the paper will fall from a handsome hand’s width to that of a meagre thumb nail or so – but none the less we have the sense that we are actually getting somewhere on this long passage.

Heading in the right direction

Position. 21 10’N. 21 58’W (A moment of great excitement this morning when we were exactly 21 30.648N and W. Picture counting down to New Year’s Eve at the turn of the millennium. You can tell there’s not much going on!)

Wind. NE 15-20 knots

Course. 260

Daily Run. 165 miles. Again!

We gybed late morning, having made enough progress south to be in reliable trade winds, so we are now pointing at Martinique. Still more than 2,000 miles away but good to be heading right at it.

Update below from Daisy:

After being at sea for five days we have really begun to know the animals who are following us on our voyage.

We have been visited by dolphins several times and it’s a wonder to watch them play in the waves. On our third day at sea, we had a rather unexpected visit from a sea turtle who was also surfing the waves! And yesterday we briefly spotted a whale coming to the surface to breath, but sadly he didn’t stick around to play.

Entered the Tropics at breakfast time ….

Position: 23 14’N. 020 08W

Wind ENE 18-20

Daily run (noon to noon) 165 Nautical miles

Course. 235 degrees

Dora’s 3 A’s of the Atlantic

. Awful

. Abominable

. Amazing wildlife

So all going well then! To be fair they are both feeling better with each day and managing simple food (not that any other kind of available!). Spirits generally high. Sun is shining. Wind is constant. Great excitement each day when we spot a solitary other ship. That’s about it though for company.

First roller coaster of a day

Position: 27 18’N. 016 37’W.

Wind: E 15 knots

It has been a real rollercoaster since we left Lanzarote. We motored for the first five hours but winds then filled in enough for us to sail round top of Gran Canaria and then south, leaving Tenerife to starboard during the night. We decided not to refuel but have pushed on and now we are finally clear of the islands and the confused seas and accelerated winds they produce.

We are now broad reaching at around 7 knots, which is comfortable.

Crew morale certainly improving. Both girls have been terribly seasick for a good 24 hours but am hoping they’re just coming through. Ginger nuts and tangerine segments in small quantities have been requested. In the depths of their sadness we were visited by dolphins at sunset yesterday and again this morning. This morning they stayed with us for well over an hour, playing under the bow, surfing down waves and generally putting on a spectacular show to cheer up the crew.

We also had an incredible view of Mount Tiede at dawn this morning, a towering mountain even at 40 miles away. Never seen the like.