FROM 1-11. South Atlantic-26°S

Apr 12, 2005 - 1500hrs UTC

1500hrs 12 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 163

In the horse latitudes – looking for the Trades

A little diatribe. Ever since I’ve been sailing, I’ve been aware of the dangers of working on deck with bare feet and I’ve seen some nasty injuries. It was forbidden in the boats I grew up in, before and at Dartmouth. There are two reasons – wet waterlogged feet lose their grip before good deck shoes (perhaps those with prehensile toes will shout at me, but it’s generally true) and wet soft skin and unprotected toes are especially vulnerable to cuts, splits and breaks.

So what does Muggins do this morning – yup, a sail change with soft bare feet. Nice warm water, no probs.

Boat gyrating a bit, lost grip coming back into the cockpit and sliced open the side of my foot near the big toe on heaven knows what. Stupid stupid stupid. I think I was lucky – clean cut, flap still intact, lots of salt water to keep it clean, just this side of needing stitches. Steri strips won’t stick and we have a surgical staple gun in the kit but no thanks! So to the next problem – what to do with it. Skin soft and waterlogged, no dressing will stick, bandages absorb water. Decided on a compromise – band aid along the length of the cut, big Primapore dressing over the top and the whole lot compressed by a couple of turns of duct tape all around the ball of the foot. Seems to be working and can put deck shoe over the top. Fingers crossed. Duct tape doesn’t let air in, but the ends are open and will have to change daily.

Pete goes barefoot and has survived a lifetime without injury – he’s grown up that way but I still think he’s been lucky. And there are others out there with leather feet who have done the same and will scoff at me for being a wimp. No problem – there are exceptions but for the rest of you, it’s an unnecessary risk and you take the consequences. I’ll never do it again. Those of you who have done the safety and sea survival course will know about duty of care.

Banging into 30 knot NE wind trying to get north about another 300 miles into the SE trades. Slow, battering slog into short steep lumpy sea with no let up in sight for a couple of days. Nice that we are on an enhanced consultation regime! Lots of small flying fish in the scuppers all night – too small to eat but a sign that we are nearly there. Passed a brightly lit vessel during the night – probably fishing and may not have seen us at all through his own glare.

Nice new moon – brilliant sky last night.

Looked at the large scale CMap chart of the Brazilian coast from Isla Catherina past Rio – bloody hell – there are ‘fish aggregation devices’, yellow special navigation buoys and lots of other potential show stoppers all along and there’s no way we’ll go close in unless we have no alternative.

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