FROM 1-6. Below 50S

Feb 28, 2005 – 0035hrs UTC

0035hrs 28 Feb 2005 UTC 53’32”S 105’04”W Map Ref 86

As I start to write this, we have 1325 miles to the Horn. Not a trivial distance and it seems we are going to have to work our butts off to put it in the bag. At this rate, still more than  two weeks. We have been hand steering for most of the day, chasing diaphanous excuses for breeze all over the ocean. We were actually parked with no wind for a couple of hours. The miles are just not going into the bag and it’s cold, misty and drizzling. Convergence zone conditions in spades. Hands white and wrinkly as soon as they get wet. The latest grib has two tight little lows right up our chuff with big winds around them and impossible with my limited experience to work out where they will go or how they will affect us. There may well be a big hammer in there somewhere, but right now we have about 10 kts from the SW and we have the electric autopilot steering from the masthead windvane because the swell and the lack of wind in the troughs make it impossible for Kewvvo to work with any consistent apparent wind. Tedious in the extreme – what did I say about grinding out the yards? We’re into it.

So we consulted the Dublin Doctor, and he said consult me again immediately so we did and that’s the front icebox emptied. Pete made a cake sized banana muffin – different and a nice change. My piece arrived by dogbowl in the cockpit where I was nursing the tiller extension, hunched under the dodger out of the rain and concentrating fiercely, as one does, on keeping the boat moving. I was wearing goretex mitts (great gear, but only for steering type work – dangerous for operating winches etc because they can get caught) with thin liners underneath and my hands were wet but just warm. But have you ever tried to lift a piece of banana muffin out of a dogbowl into your mouth with wet mitts? Ain’t easy, but still warm when I eventually worked it out. Now sitting at the nav table feeding this in with polyprop liners on my hands trying to warm them up and dry them out.

Wildlife – there’s a little, graceful, quick flappy (as opposed to gliding) bird that in the grey light outside seems to have a greenish blue tint to the tops of its wings. Cant be sure but it’s unusual and I’ve noticed it before. It’s only an impression because it moves so fast and rolls from side to side so that its wings are never still enough to observe for more than a second or so. Been watching the birds as we toss the biodegradable bits over the side – their ability to spot the toss and be right there is impressive. Even when apparently facing away from the boat, they are onto it.

Michael, thanks for Lamisil and metho info. I have lamisil but didn’t know about metho, of which we have a surplus. Despite my rather overworked boot feral joke, we have not had any nasty rots or infections. Touch wood…Which photo did you use? Interested in any feedback, if you get any.

Two hours later – 30kt from the south – just changed from #1 to #4 and two reefs. 1307 to go, VMG 6.5. Hard to interpret but coming from south may indicate SW quadrant of a low to NE showing on chilean wxfax. May be first thump of hammer or may just go round to W as low moves E. Really cold on deck now with S wind – esp for hands. Tried industrial lanolin on hands then latex gloves (v hard to get on!) under normal sailing gloves and it worked a treat – hands v. cold but basically dry and easily warmed. Good idea if there’s time to get it all together. Will do it again and report further. Tight stbd tack, lots of water over the front so my bunk vulnerable again and prophylaxis in praxis.

Please keep those messages coming in – short ones please! we still have a bit of a problem – they really give us something to look forward to each day and it helps pass the time replying. We’re both having real difficulty keeping track of local time here. No sun often for days and no idea where it is in sky and crossing longitude quite fast and using gmt for all this stuff. Disorienting and makes sleep patterns etc somewhat cockeyed so nice to have a focal point, even if it appears to move. Pete making last batch of Sutherland pasta sauce. Master chef extraordinaire.

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