FROM 1-24. Closing on the Barn Door

Oct 12, 2005 - 0430hrs UTC │Follow my Wallow

0430hrs 12 Oct 2005 UTC 37’04”S 008’54”W Ref 433

Follow my wallow – for the sailors. We’ve all sat in the oily swell in the Channel or the Solent or off Sydney Heads or wherever with no wind, the kite or the headsail and the main slatting and banging and tearing out their cringles and thought we were particularly unlucky. So we were, but it’s all relative. Next time it happens to you, and a ship passes, imagine that the waves are as big as the ship and about 100 to 150 metres apart, with the swell you are sitting in applied across the top. And there you are, trying to keep the boat moving with nowt on the wind indicator. Now THAT’s wallow. It is all happening right here – the wind dropped out as predicted as the high arrived and we rolled around, as above. Then a whisper – up to 8 kt, but hard to tell because of the roll – bit the bullet and rigged the pole and tried to hand steer downwind – much banging and crashing but tiny progress – a speed reading on the log – .75, 1.2….eventually cracking 4 kts in about 10 kts of ephemeral breeze and the electric autohelm is driving as I write. Still a crash or two as the main goes inside out and takes the boom with it but progress. This note will be even more disjointed than usual because I have to keep leaping up on deck to tweak the autohelm.

G’day to all the new Gusts and readers. It seems we have hit the news. We can’t get the internet or read the papers here so all we know is what Stephen is able to send us via Sailmail – he sends us your emails pasted into a single download and gives us the gust entries when he can. We get 10 minutes per day connect time over the Sailmail link, so it is all very compressed and the whole website has to be run within this constraint. Up till now, I have tried to acknowledge you all individually but this may be a bit difficult for a few days until the rush fades. Please forgive me if you don’t get a mention.

The Times (UK) – 11 Oct 2005: Two codgers and a boat: marriage made in yachtsmen’s heaven

Small concern – we seem to be using our methylated spirit rather faster that at any previous time – time for a stocktake in the morning – we may need to conserve, so no more bread or pasta, for instance. Poo! But it hasn’t happened yet. I wonder if Pete is secretly drinking the stuff – poor lad’s not blue with cold when he staggers in after a dismal night watch – perhaps it’s a metho stain.

Our ephemeral zephyr has gone and we’re back in megawallow. Gotta go.
Much tweaking later – just managing forward progress in about 5-8kts – takes a bit of concentration. Now overcast – Mars, I think, visible thro tiny gap. Real southern ocean phosphorescence again – Berri leaving smoky trail snaking through the water, turbine a bright blob as it stirs the dinos on the end if its line 40 metres behind.

Chris – love your poem, not at all fussed by the cost effective use of the singular! One sailor, like an unknown warrior, can represent us all. [ed: will seek permission to publish]

I’ve been thumpingly chastised by my sister for going public about her dental floss fetish – she’s in denial, but everyone has known for years that she sneaks out at night and fossicks in the neighbours’ dustbins for those curly knotty bits of used floss that she then obsessively ties together to re-use. We’re a strange lot. In fact, she uses rolls of the stuff to achieve spectacular effects by tie-dyeing silk and other material. I think her website is at if you don’t believe me. I want her to do a spinnaker for Berri, but she hasn’t collected enough floss yet. Maybe all y’all could send her yours… Perhaps I shouldn’t joke – there’s bound to be someone out there that doesn’t do irony. If that’s what this is.

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