FROM 1-13. Across the Equator &1st circumnavigation

May 08, 2005 - 1030hrs UTC

1030hrs 08 May 2005 UTC Map Ref 207

We are almost exactly half way between Africa and South America, about 1200 miles NE of the mouth of the Amazon. Too far for any noticeable change in the colour of the water. Going just west of North which is as good as we could hope for in the NE Trades. Low overcast with rain showers – unexpected and indicates a warm front somewhere close, probably coming up from the south.

Apologies for the tedium of these updates – the old bus shelter is still rattling around the studio floor and we’re still throwing more cans at the mock up ISS but that’s not news any more and I’m reluctant to make jokes about nothing much happening – even this old grizzlehead has some tendrils of superstition somewhere between its ears. So we sit and luxuriate in the fact that we are going north and it’s cool(ish) and we haven’t yet lost the capacity to Consult albeit by LMC.

One of the most difficult things to contend with – I’ve found anyway – is that to get even the smallest non-routine fix or job done, it is usually necessary to unpack half the boat to get at the part or tool that is needed. We lost the pin from the autopilot some weeks ago somewhere in the saloon and I improvised with a shackle pin but today I decided it was time to find the proper pin and stop the thing from jumping around in its slot. This meant untying our plastic drawers full of dried food which sit on the jerry cans, moving them to a bunk (quite heavy – about 20 kilos) unlashing 4 of our 6 jerrycans from their stowage between the bunks, unlashing and moving a 20 litre water container from the base of the mast, removing all the padding, shifting all the bits and pieces that had jammed themselves in the available spaces – spare nav lights, coils of string, bubble wrap, deck shoes (pongy with ferals) – moving 15 metres of spare anchor chain out of the bilge forward of the mast, – bringing the big lantern from the cockpit and finding nothing, so removing the floorboard aft of the mast, pumping a few inches of water from the bilge and whoopee there it is, right at the deepest part of the boat. So, having found it, all that stuff had to be repacked, lashed in again and tidied up. Then I had to find the tools to actually replace the pin in the autopilot arm. Perhaps an hour’s work for a five minute fix. So the tendency is to put off non-essential fixes.

A bit more purple stuff about night sailing: last night, very dark, no moon, as I was sitting in the cockpit contemplating the sound of one hand clapping, I noticed from the corner of my eye strange lights astern. At first, I thought they were just reflections from the very bright stern light at the masthead, but they were greenish and all over the place. I went and stood right at the stern and wow! quite uncanny – little explosions of phosphorescence, as bright as a strobe light under water, about half a metre wide, going off in our wake and all around the boat, far enough away from it not to have been caused by its passage and even 20 -30 metres ahead. Never seen anything like it before, perhaps caused by fish – not dolphins, which leave long trails – and quite wonderful. It lasted for about an hour.

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