FROM 1-5. Mid Pacific to Heading South

Feb 19, 2005 - 0015hrs UTC

0015hrs 19 Feb 2005 UTC 45’49”S 126’30”W Map Ref 70 3930nm

And so it came to pass. Calm windless silence that pounds your ears, then fluffy darkness, muffled rain, slight roll, plus all the usual little noises in Berri’s vocab, mostly irritants like a Sikaflex tube rolling in its shelf and banging irregularly against the side – impossible to sleep through and essential to get up, identify and fix. But sleep we did, punctuated by the periodic satcom urgency alarm when a couple of hurricane warnings about TC Olaf up north arrived and no alternative but to get up and cancel the beep and read the messages. The beep must have been designed to be impossible to ignore – really malevolent noise. Never ever happens in co-ordination with the demands of the bladder either, just to get one on one’s toes a bit more often.

And I heard the moan of breeze in the rig just as the coachroof hatch showed its outline in the dim grey light at about 3am. Coffee, set the poles, sails up and we’re away again. Calm sea, bright sunlight, 5 kts direct for the Horn. And last night’s bread for breakfast. Beats queuing for a bus, but we did miss out on about 100 miles of easting.

Right now we are possibly the most isolated people on the planet, but it’s all relative. We have been looking at the logistics of getting some minor spares from the UK the Falklands and it reminds me of how easy it is to take the usual fripp of Oz daily life for granted. Freight delivery to Port Stanley is by sea – a couple of months – airmail is courtesy of the RAF and presumably subject to load limitations, courier service might be available at significant cost via Argentina. The islanders are a long way out of town too.

For, I think, only the second time since Hobart, we have the solar panel facing the sun and producing wiggly amps. When I bought the panel in Sydney, I thought about making a frame for it over the stern, but decided not to because after testing its output, I felt that it would not be possible to orient the panel effectively on a frame. We keep the panel stowed on the coachroof, permanently connected to its regulator but usually not contributing much. Today it is in the cockpit catching as many of the 42 photons per hour we get down here and delivering the transmogrified product to the battery. But the angle of orientation is absolutely critical – it needs to be perpendicular to the sun and even a small change can halve its output. The daily routine will have to include rotating it through 15 deg every hour whenever it is out of storage.

The expected front should arrive later today, with the wind backing round to the south and increasing to about 30kt. Not too serious and we should continue to make progress. The sea is just starting to rise and the rolling has increased. No main, so no slatting and banging and the twins and Kevvo are doing a mighty job. Lunch about to happen – basmati rice with the very last of the Dunedin carrots, onion, raw garlic and vegie garden mung beans stirred in.

Mung Beans – an enterprise not without its downside. Ok if they all sprout evenly, but this lot at least haven’t done so and I’ve chipped all the leading edge fillings off my front teeth on the little rocky ones that didn’t germinate. Essential to eat them very carefully. Filed off the sharper bits and its back to the hacksaw smile. Another job for Julita. The cress is thriving and I now have a rotating system where one half of the tray gets eaten as the other half sprouts and grows. Fenugreek still to be tried. The simple pleasures of extended isolation. And Alan Bennet’s Talking Heads on a BBC CD – done Alan on ‘A chip in the sugar’ and about to listen to Patricia Routledge as A Woman of Letters. When did I ever have time for such idle dissipation in the real world? In the aggravation a couple of days ago, I lost Mike’s crossword grid I’d been working on – it got wet and ran off the laminate – so that’s out there to be reworked too.

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