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

May 11, 2005 – 1400hrs UTC

1400hrs 11 May 2005 UTC Map Ref 212

Once again, not lot to report. The wind is now 30 – 35 knots, very lumpy sea, hugely uncomfortable in every respect. #4 and 3 reefs with the traveller eased way down to feather the main most of the time. Not much fun but we are moving north at 5+ knots which is the sustaining factor in what is now an examination in stamina and endurance. I reckon this feels like about 18k in a really difficult marathon. Occasionally, we get a big wave side on that dumps tons of water over the boat and half fills the cockpit, but mainly just mild water over the deck in submarine mode. Humid below, but not as bad as before. Still on the starboard tack, so we hope the dud shroud is not stressed and the others are holding out. Short of stopping, there’s not much we can do.

We have about 700 miles – say six days – to go before we can, on present information, expect any real change. JJ, this is a situation where we have to get as far north as possible with as little west as possible – no question of giving anything away in the hope that there will be a favourable change – westerlies – up there. Doesn’t look as if they are there at this moment. So it’s headbang all the way. We’re abeam the southern Cape Verdes way over to the east – the jumping off spot for sailors going to the West Indies from Europe. May see other yachts further north. And somewhere out behind us is the Global Challenge fleet.

My sister says Mal has put some photos on the website. Really weird feeling to be at the sharpish end of this enterprise and yet in a way not be part of it at all. Pete and I have not seen any of the photos, nor have we read any of the press articles or seen the website except briefly while we were in Port Stanley. So we know less about ourselves than you know about us. But it’s really nice to get the daily pair of mailcalls with all your messages and to know that there seems to be something in what we are doing that has come to mean something to a lot of other people too. Chuffing and sustaining and enabling.

These updates may become a bit repetitive over the six days, so I’ll keep them short – it’s pretty hard just to sit here and grind them out – but I will try and give you a comparison between a Hobart and a Fastnet race as we go along.

Malcom, thanks for both messages  Mal, – I think we should post the one about phosphorescence. Thanks for High info. If correct, looks promising but still a long way to go.

From Malcom C on Phosphorescence and Fish:

When I was at sea a few decades ago, one of the top fishing skippers I used to work with, a Spanish Moroccan, used to command trawlers out of Walvis bay, Namibia.

When fishing for pilchards at night, which school in vast numbers off SW Africa, as the trawlers didn’t have sonar at that time they used to darken the ship so that they could see the phosphorescence given off by the plankton and small criturs as they were disturbed by the schools of swirling feeding fish and hence they knew where to shoot their nets.

It’s possible that you sailed through or over a large school of small fish that were actively feeding.  It may be that there was also a sharp temperature gradient at a water mass boundary in the ocean (think current boundaries and warm core eddies) where plankton, small fish and larger pelagic predators congregate.

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