FROM 2-12. Lisbon-Equator

Mintaka tops

0700/01 position 0109 02304 trip 107/24 we’ve had about a knot of current against us for a couple of days.

Middle watch again – glorious night, Jupiter, Formalhaut, Orion, Sirius, Canopus all just visible in the moonlight. It makes such a difference to life when you know you don’t have to come out of your corner fighting! We’re out of the nasties and into the trades proper – fluffy cu, 18-20 kts from just east of south with the prospect that the wind will back as we get south and west and the jerky violent lumpy corkscrewing will ease a bit. The sea is just the wrong mix of swell, frequency, wind waves and left overs for a boat Berri’s size and it’s very uncomfortable – you have to brace, time it and swing with the motion and avoid the hard bits – a bit like a monkey in the canopy.

Having said which, this is what Berri does best – sheets just cracked and going to windward. I’d hate to be in one of today’s same sized flat bottomed pounders in these conditions – Berri with small headsail and 2 reefs and about 10 deg of heel, lee gunwale about a foot out of the water just flows. Or would, were it not for the short steep swell and the wavelength. The problem is that the wave length is about 2 boat lengths and so the poor old barge is working hard and having to recover after every wave. She has to blast her way through the swell, so lots of spray but her forward lines are so fine that I’ve just been up the front and hardly got wet.

Should have said that yesterday’s shoal of blue fish were airborne – speed of sound flash between the waves and no doubt trying to avoid becoming dinner for something bigger but a little gem inserted into my day.

Nearest humans – Jeanne Socrates is about 500 miles ahead of us – google her – in her boat Nereida and we might be able to talk to her tomorrow on the satphone. 0645/01 – we spoke – more later.

Uncanny – I’d just written all this goo about moon and stars and being out of the nasties and went up into the cockpit and there’s a line of cloud and murk coming in very fast from the SE – the moon will go soon – this might be the change predicted by the GRIB….But it wasn’t – no sooner had the murk arrived that it was gone again and back to fluffy cu. And not so cuddly, that fluffy cu. – I’ve been watching it race past the moon and it’s fierce.

Tonight, during Pete’s next watch, Mintaka will cross the sky a degree south of Berri’s masthead – our zenith star for the Equator. At that moment we will be almost exactly in the middle of the Atlantic and we’ll have it to ourselves. Cool!

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