FROM 2-13. Equator-Cape Town

Wimping along

I'm a wimp when it comes to flying kites out here – potential for big and unnecessary stress on the rig if things go pearshaped and all the other complications of bits of string everywhere. But Pete was persuasive and we've had our racing assymetric kite up for the last 3 hours and we are hooning – trying really hard to stay in a line of wind that I think will die with a line of cloud to the west of us. Last time we flew it was from the Fastnet Rock back past The Lizard in the Fastnet where it picked us up about 100 places (luck as well, of course, with a massive wind change as we rounded Pantaenius)- so, Mr Shilland, a good little engine and just right for these conditions. Still more or less on target for Dec 5th arrival with 1436 miles to go. Kevvo is driving – I'm watching him because there is still some swell and if a big one catches the stern, it throws us sideways and gives poor Kevvo a completely false apparent wind which gives him the hiccups.

Later – since I started writing this, I've been hand steering for a couple of hours because it's too much for the electric autopilot as well. The wind is strengthening and I think freeing us and we may have to drop the kite soon. I saw our first Portuguese Man 'o War (Bluebottle for the Australians) quite a big one, deep blue sac with crenellated fringe on the top edge and half moon curve so they drift with the prevailing wind. And a white bird settled on the water – unusual as most of them here are brown or black – orange beak, white head, black slashes around the eyes, grey flecks on top of the body and wings and two long straight white tail feathers – hard to judge their length but at least as long as the body. Not in the albatross book but somebody will know what it is.

Later still – we dropped it in time for a relaxed meeting with the Grindy – was building a nice fat quarter wave so time to douse and get the boat upright again – lost perhaps half a knot but the knuckles no longer grey.

Norm – thanks! Wish we had one of those machines.

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