Sunday, 17 March 2019

Are we there yet?

From Steve,
In a word, no.
Still 1160 miles left on the clock.
Notable points in history are fewer and further apart.
I was going to write about how it has been a long way, etc, and how far
to go, but reviewing the last few blogs have decided that our reader(s)
has probably heard that enough.
So.....
Progress is serene. The sea is a bit lumpy and sometimes a bit sideways
on to the boat, so it all feels like a ride on, or in, a very large,
very overweight, very ponderous, lazy rodeo bull that most of the time
rocks gently from siide to side and then has a pang of conscience and
give a bit of a roll to try to earn his keep.
The most comfortable places are on deck and in the aft cabins, and the
least comfortable is in front of the cooker trying to work.
I have been doing some cooking.
About half of the meals so far have been vegetable based, and this is
very definitely not my strong side in cooking, so I have been using the
mince in a variety of ways.
Jo borrowed a vacuum packer just before we left the Galapagos and it
has proved (so far) to have done an excellent job.

So actually we are all in pretty good spirits, just about up to date
with sleep and the Spag Bol tonight will be at least a bit different
from the Chilli Con Carne of a few days ago.
Oh, and the moon and the sea last night was absolutely beautiful
All the best to all, and love to home.
Steve

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Day 10

We're well over 1/2way to the Marquesas now - only about 1300nm to go.
Then we think Hang on - that's about the same distance as Stornoway to
Gibralter, so we're not 'nearly there' by any stretch. Anyway, we've
done over 1/2 and celebrated last night with steak night and are
steadily working down the miles.

We've been next Cassiopee for the last 3 days; it's quite niec being
within sight of another boat in the vast ocean. Now however I think
they're a bit further north over the horizon.

The sea is livelier today. We're goose-winged with 2 reefs in the main
and 1 in the genoa. We could probably shake out at least 1 of the
reefs but this is definitely a long, endurance event with not breaking
things being top priority. Shackles come mysteriously come undone and
the pin on one of our snap-shackle sheets disappeared overnight. Apart
from that, all people well and all systems go.

Friday, 15 March 2019

Fish at last...

Since Richard left the boat our fishing efforts have varied between
poor and pathetic. Richard's best rod and line was stolen from the
back of the boat in the Galapagos, which was a huge shame. He had left
the boat brilliantly equipped, but with no one with the right skills.
We tried to get one of the other reels to work on a rod, but either the
rod or the users weren't up to the job.

So we went back to a handline dangling off the back of the boat.
First the lure was taken by we-know-not-what, then the line
mysteriously snapped near the boat and then we caught the towed
generator. That made a big mess and we resolved not to fish while
generating. Yesterday, with sufficient power in the battery, we put out
the handline again fully expecting to bring it again at dusk with no
fish hurt. We rigged a bungee cord to indicate if anything pulled on
it. Imagine our surprise when we caught what we think was a blue
marlin. We think this because it looked like a marlin and was blue -
but it was substantially smaller than the giants of fishermans' tales.
It was hauled aboard reasonably easily and we decided to release it
because we thought it was a baby and because it looked so beautiful. Jo
extracted the hook which had gone through the top of its bill and we
threw it back - hopefully allowing it to grow to a giant over the next
years.

If anybody can identify it from the photo, please let us know.

We had tinned tuna for supper.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Steve at sunset

Day 8

We're making excellent progress towards the Marquesas with about 1700Nm
to go. In our reverse history of the world we whipped through the
19th century, playing Tchaikovsky at 1812Nm to go. The French
revolution happened in reverse as I slept and we're approaching the
South Sea Bubble.

The sailing is more of a reach than downwind, which
actually means that we can sail consistently faster for the same
windspeed compared to, say, crossing the Atlantic. We did use the
'stingray', our double-headed code 0 sail, yesterday and allowed
ourselves to sail more downwind. It felt very easy, but once we took
both sails over to one side and hoisted the main, we added an extra
knot and headed in the right direction. We're very un-brave at night -
with 18-20 knots of wind we have the genoa and 1st reefed main. It's
probably 1/2 to 1 knot slower than full main and the code 0
(single-sided stingray) but I sleep better! A masthead light that has caught up several miles on our port quarter
overnight. We think it's our friends on Cassiopee - a hylas 46 - but
they are not appearing on AIS so we can't be sure.

This evening has been wonderful sailing under clear skies in contrast
to rain and little wind last night. Obviously, the skies are very
different here, no pole star and thousands of new (to me) stars in the
south.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

A third of the way across

We have just celebrated reaching 1000 miles out, and 2000 to go! Tintin
is crossing just north of the Bauer Basin of the central eastern
Pacific ocean, where the water is around 3800 metres deep.

At times it can feel a bit remote here, especially in the dark. But
other boats are not far away. On the daily radio net we share our
latitude and longitude so we can soon see who is close. Today we have
chatted to the crews of Cabana and Casiopee who are both within VHF
range. It is so reassuring to hear them. The fleet has spread out as
usual but there is quite a group within a 100m mile range of us. That
doesn't seem very far out here!

The "miles to go screen" on our GPS, attached by the wheel, is
prompting us to reminisce as we go...
Rob "Jo, we have just sailed through our married life!" (We are at 1991
miles to go now)
Steve has brought with him " A short history of England" to help us out
with deeper history as the miles go by.

We have all settled well into our watch routine, 6 days in, and have
decided not to change shifts. Instead we will put the ships clock back
one hour every 15 degrees of longitude we cover. The sea state has
moderated a bit today so it is easier to move around on board, to
cook, and to sleep. Even managing to not spill mugs of tea. Spirits are
good on board.

Monday, 11 March 2019

Steady progress

Tintin is making great progress at the moment. The winds have stayed
with us, 18-22 knots on the beam. We have the mainsail and the genoa up
and the boat is moving along with a great sense of purpose.

With slightly lighter winds yesterday we hoisted the cruising chute,
our large blue foresail, and went flying along. It was a bit too much
for Wendy to cope with so we hand steered - which was fun but pretty
tiring. With the moderate sea state waves of 2-3 metres height are
arriving at our port quarter and nudging the bow up into the wind. It
all gets more exciting then as the apparent wind increases and the boat
heels more.

For a more relaxed night we switched to the electrically driven
autohelm, which steers according to a compass bearing rather than
relative to the wind direction (which is what Wendy does).

We had rather grey skies for the weekend, but the skies have cleared
and we have trademark tradewind fluffy clouds.

However, without Richard our fishing efforts have been poor - few
attempts and very unsuccesful, including getting the fishing line
caught in towed generator. Doh!