FROM 1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 24, 2005 - 0430hrs UTC

0430hrs 24 Aug 2005 UTC 43’14”N 010’16”W Ref 308

Here I sit, in our tatty old bus shelter, a dusty streetlight across the road laying a grey screen across the keyboard, the laptop attached to it’s pocky extension cord snaking away into the gloom, wishing I were better oiled with Harry Pendel’s fluence.

We’re just outside the Finisterre separation zone – one of Europe’s busier corners. Lots of ships around, most of them seem to be outside the zone. The moonlight is so bright that I can see the hull of a ship to starboard under its navigation lights and I sometimes feel the illusion that the headsail, poled out to port, is a lateen sail off a dhow, such is the occasional moonshadow effect. Odd – reminds me of an incident on my first night solo during flying training when I was rigidly convinced the aircraft was inverted just after take off because the lights of a village were reflected by the canopy. Nearly killed myself flipping it over but remembered the instruments just in time – else all y’all wouldn’t be getting all this guff.

We’re ghosting along, gently rolling in the dying swell heading SSW at about 4.5 kts. Too slow, but not slow enough to need drastic action. A few dolphins around. Boot ferals coming out of aestivation and loudly comparing notes about the quality of the festering goodies they’ve woken up in. We won’t reach today’s 24 hour distance target but still just ahead of schedule. We had intended to sail down the inside of the separation zone so that we could say we had seen the Spanish coast, but there’s a SW change due and I’ve just gybed out to sea to meet it and give us some room if it comes on strong. Also a bit daft at night – there are warnings about ‘tunny nets may be set up to 7 miles out to sea…’ on the chart and I’d hate to get tangled up in one, as, I suspect, would any self respecting tuna.

Berri fat and heavy, has a different repertoire of creaks and groans – there’s an interesting creak next to my left ear as I sit at the nav table – happens when we roll to starboard and I think it may be the preventer picking up the strain. Don’t know, but it’s not serious. As we roll downwind, it seems the sails are just filled, but there’s actually a lot of power there moving about 8 tons of boat and masses of water. The preventer holds the boom forwards and prevents the worst effects of an inadvertent gybe if Kevvo were to get thrown way off line by an out of court wave. At the mo, he’s just got enough apparent wind to keep us on line.

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