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

May 10, 2005 – 0530hrs UTC

0530hrs 10 May 2005 UTC Map Ref 210

As Pete says, its gunwale bum conditions again – the hard bits of the bus shelter grinding away at the body’s outer works from the outside and the bony bits of the body squishing away at them from the inside. And there does not seem to be any end to the process in sight. The Examiner, (whose name is Promethea Gallumbits of that Ilk, Eccentrica’s sister from Eroticon and who gets off on maximising the contrast between happiness and depression. She arrived here 5 months ago as a result of an infinitely improbable event close to the Iron Pot) has set us a doozy for the final run home. We are 2700 odd miles directly downwind from Falmouth, as hard on the wind as we can manage, now 30 – 35 knots, which has been building a short, steep sea for the last three days and unless we get a big lift, there’s no way out. We are pointing roughly at Bermuda about 2000 miles ahead and that’s about where we would have to tack to make Falmouth if nothing changes. So it’s going to be a bit of a slog, perhaps 4000 miles instead of 2700. At about 4 knots. Tedious. We do expect a change as we get closer to the Azores but it isn’t necessarily going to help much as the wind is likely to drop right out. My ETA entry is looking a bit sick – the later ones are in with a chance.

To survive the conditions and look after the rig as best we can, we have to keep Berri moving slowly enough so that she rides the waves rather that leaps between them and crashes into the oncoming wall. When this happens, the hull wants to stop and the rig wants to keep going and there’s a big impact load on the shrouds. As it is, Berri thinks she’s a submarine, sedately burying her bows, back to the hatch sometimes, and lifting a ton or two of water back down the deck so there is always a small ocean sloshing around. Occasionally, there comes a shorter one and she crashes into it and flings blue water and spray half a boatlength outwards and back on the wind. That’s when you have to be grateful for the dodger (the little canvas awning at the front of the cockpit that you can duck your head under.

Just had to hurtle out and sort out a bit of a blast from under a cloud – the autohelm is set to follow the windvane (and so the apparent wind, not the compass course) and sometimes the combined roll and rise in wind confuses it by giving it a completely false apparent wind so it goes completely ape. Kevvo has exactly the same problem in these conditions and we tend to use the electric version because it’s easier to keep adjusting. So we must put the autohelm into standby, put Berri back on course and reset the autohelm and then sit and watch it for a bit. Not made easier if I’m using the computer when it happens because the screen is so bright, even when fully dimmed, that I’m completely blind when I get out into the cockpit and it takes several minutes for my eyes to adjust to the very black night. Moon tomorrow, I think.

Polaris, the North Star, now clearly visible on our starboard bow and getting higher every night. Cool.

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