FROM 1-26. Through the Barn Door

Oct 25, 2005 – 2200hrs UTC

2200hrs 25 Oct 2005 UTC 37’05”S 018’36”E Ref 486

That’s one spectacularly inventive Examiner we’ve been allocated. She certainly stimulates the reflexes – we are now hove to, not in a gale but in a pretend zephyr that is just enough to keep the headsail backed in a very sloppy and confused bit of ocean. Quite impossible to sail – Berri rolls and gyrates so much in the slop that it’s futile even to try. So the barn door is still firmly closed 66 miles ahead of us and we ain’t a goin’ anywheres. Not yet anyway. From the blast furnace into the acid bath! The apology for a breeze is coming from the south and we are drifting south west at about 1.5 kts, so it seems we are in a 2 knot or so current from the north, perhaps the bottom end of the Agulhas current. The water temp is 16 degrees and earlier, the wave pattern was very much wind against tide with steep sided waves, all confused.

A warning. I set about fixing the liferaft lashings late yesterday. They consist of a set of webbing straps held down and locked with a big pelican clip and a second lashing of doubled up 6mm spectra over the top. I found that the pelican clip was undone and the raft was only attached to the boat by the spectra – very firmly attached so no problem but the pelican clip was something to think about. When we lost the first raft off Montevideo, we found the pelican clip undone as well and were puzzled by this. The clip is designed so that when locked and under pressure, friction holds the sliding locking ring in place. I can only assume that the force of water hitting the clip from the side is sufficient to shift the deliberately easy to slide locking ring up the shaft of the clip far enough to release it. In ordinary circumstances, I have always taped up the slider so that it was not inadvertently slipped by someone’s heel when reefing or whatever, but I thought this not sensible or necessary for this voyage. Be warned, anyone who relies just on the clip – if I am correct, then you really do need to tape up the slider if you expect serious greenies over the top and your raft is as exposed as Berrimilla’s is on the coachroof. Having taped it up, you need to have some way of releasing it quickly – perhaps a knife attached to it somehow.

I feel a bit like Bligh must have felt when he was cast off from the Bounty in the longboat. They were in sight of one of the Pacific islands, or at least very close, but it was directly upwind and Bligh knew he had no choice but to sail west in the general direction of Australia. We are about 200 miles south of Cape Town but it would be impossible to sail there in this breeze and probably very difficult in the strong NW’erly that, I think, is to follow. Bligh sailed, eventually, about 3500 miles to Kupang, and I’ve stood on the wharf where he probably landed. We will sail about 6000 miles to Oz, eventually, if the Examiner can’t find a way to prevent us. At which point, comparisons stop.

My request to borrow a consolatory bear yesterday when the Merlin died has produced two – one from L, H & J, potentially renamed Bearymilla and the other from the Izzos – a Virtual Bear called Percy Vere. Thanks – I am as consoled as it is possible to be. I wonder if the originator of the Merlin is still out at Strathfield in Sydney – I have his contact details with the instructions for mine and it would be nice to be able to get Martin’s semi comatose friend reprogrammed on-line instead of feeding in the program line by line from the keyboard.

I was stung by some extra snide and pointed remarks from Himself along the lines of ‘all we’ve got around here is dry biscuits’ so I made some bread yesterday. Timed it too – 2 hours for 8 slices of bread, but nice to have. I tried frying it and it works, so cutting down the baking time by at least an hour. The trick is to press a small ball of dough into the thinnest pancake possible and then drop it onto oil so hot that it has just started to smoke. As soon as the top starts to form bubbles – about 2 minutes – turn it over for a minute or so and remove. Uses a lot of oil and tastes a bit like naan without the spices but offers lots of opportunity for adding stuff.

Ed: later…

Ship approaching. First since C.Verdes maybe cos I was able to contact CTown radio yest.

Mostly becalmed

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