FROM 1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 26, 2005 – 1840hrs UTC

1840hrs 26 Aug 2005 UTC 39’03”N 013’01”W Ref 314

We miscalculated a bit – now stuck in the very soft end of a ridge coming off the azores high towards northern Portugal – no wind at all and we’re motoring with the tractor just ticking over to give us 3.5 knots. The grib says there’s wind closer in towards the coast but there’s no way we’re going to get there. So we’re pottering across a big grey disc with a diameter of about 6 miles – long swell, wavelength about 150 metres, about 4 metres high. Takes about an hour to crawl to the horizon we can see ahead of us. No clouds anywhere so no real prospect of a change. Character forming.

For Gerry and anyone else who teaches safety and sea survival – and all y’all who go sailing – I’ve just conducted a small experiment. I tossed a roughly 20 cm square coloured and highly visible cardboard box (definitely biodegradeable) over the side and watched it as we moved away. Remember, bright sunlight, no wind, no wind waves, just swell and we’re doing 3.5 knots. It was clearly visible until it rose over the next wave astern, about 150 metres away about 2 minutes later and then I never saw it again, even with binoculars. Wouldn’t have sunk or drifted sideways – we just weren’t on the tops of the swells at the same time. A human head in the water would be much harder to see – a strobe might have a better chance, especially at night, but crew drills and quick action are clearly the go. A trail of floating objects would be a good start, plus the GPS MOB button.

Sleep calls – might continue this later.

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