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Prop Knows Best

Good Morning All,

Day 3 - Tuesday 11th dawned brighter, well certainly in my imagination, I felt much better and a little hungry. Having sorted the sails out by hoisting more I came below and made some tea which I then took up to the cockpit and enjoyed, with the exception of occasionally burning my nose on it. This is odd, I’ve not had it before, the mug I use for tea is a cheap insulated one as one might buy at a petrol station with a narrow base and a lid. The narrow base isn’t ideal but the handle is good for hooking onto the chart table or winch handle stowage, depending upon location. Anyway when tipping it up at my mouth to get the tea, my nose hits the lid before the tea hits my mouth, and I kept burning it. I’m possibly slightly sunburned so my nose may be more sensitive than normal. Once I’d drained the dregs of my tea I came back down below and got the weather forecast on my ipad and then updated the log and blog. I then made bacon with scrambled eggs for breakfast which was most enjoyable and welcome; as my mother’s not here to tell me any different I eat most things straight out of the saucepan as it’s easier when washing up is so difficult with the motion. The sea is down this morning but yesterday it was still fairly big, around 3 -4 metres and it makes the motion aboard very jerky and uncomfortable.

During the day a bird, possibly a sparrow, with his wife arrived and took up residence in the cockpit. To start with I was a bit irritated at them being in the way when I had to adjust sheets, steering or sails but they seemed quite content to get out of the way and come back again once I’d finished. They were with me for a few hours and I was starting to enjoy their company, particularly as they showed no interest in going down below, but after a short sleep in the afternoon they had left when I came back on deck. A couple of small poos were all they left, I hope that they found their way back to Ireland or wherever they were heading. A fulmar also enjoyed showing off his aeronautical skills by hovering off the port quarter and doing kind of vertical circles in time with us and the waves, at the bottom of the circle he’d dip his feet into the water and add speed to his flying by running in the water for a few steps. I don’t know what he was doing or why but he did it for some time which was fascinating. I’ve seen several fulmars and gannets and one gulliemot so far, or at least I think it was a guillemot.

I’d rigged the larger staysail on deck ready to go next time it’s too blowy for the genoa; in the afternoon the wind picked back up to around 20-23 knots, with 2 reefs in the main and genoa she was fine but a little over-pressed at times. The wind is coming from the SW exactly the direction I’m trying to go so It’s frustrating not being able to sail at closer than about 50 degrees to where I’m trying to get to. I took in the third reef at dusk and we actually increased speed, we’re only doing about 4 knots at the moment which is disappointing, I’m hoping to average 5 knots and it’s not looking likely at the moment. The weather is supposed to be better for a couple of days then get worse again, I’d expected bad weather tomorrow but that’s now looking less likely. The day’s run to Noon yesterday was 125 miles but this is logged miles, or distance travelled, so when we zig and zag it means that some of it isn’t actually in a useful direction.

I had prawn risotto for dinner, a bit risky as I’d bought the prawns reduced in lidl on Friday. When Ertan and I ended up going to Rockfish with Robbie and Charlene from Wanderlust I thought I’d better cook these before they went off, which I did on Friday evening, but had ignored them since. I did wonder if it was sensible eating them still, but seem to have got away without poisoning myself, I hate throwing things away.

Just before midnight we tacked inadvertently, then gybed before I’d managed to struggle into my oilskins and wellies (going up on deck without oilskins last night would have guaranteed a drenching and I’ve not too many spare clothes) when I made it up and started sorting things out - disaster, the wind vane from the self steering gear was missing! The self steering itself was jammed hard over as well. I’m not sure what happened, it’s likely that a wave hit it but why, if that happened, it didn’t break the vane rather than cause it to come adrift I’m not sure. Prop, at the boatyard had suggested that I should tie it on, I had thought about it but in my mind the risk was from me dropping it when fitting or removing it not for it to go missing in action when it should have been securely clamped to the structure. Stupid of me, always listen to Prop! Anyway I switched to autopilot for the night and started the engine to charge the batteries for an hour because the autopilot uses electricity, a valuable commodity aboard.


This morning, day 4, I woke up going North, not ideal so tacked and put up full sail as the wind was down below 10 knots. Having thought about rigging my spare wind vane, which Prop had made me but is quite a bit heavier than the original, I had a plan of action in mind and carried it through before breakfast. It involved adding lead weight to the counterbalance of the vane which I’ve wrapped around the weight and held in place with jubilee clips, and tied on as a back up! The vane is now running the watch again and I’ve fitted a lanyard to it now so that it shouldn’t go missing again. I had bought some fearfully expensive dyneema rope coated with antichafe sleeve which apparently was made with a ground up mixture of the stig and diamonds, the nice chap at the rigger shop thought that it would be ideal and last for ages. It is only 8mm diameter and costs 15 pounds a metre. I fitted it in Plymouth before departure and it’s worn out already, given that my ordinary rope has seen me all the way around Ireland, down to Cornwall and back and then again down to Cornwall I’m not that impressed. In any event I’ve end for ended it for now, I have a complete spare in the dyneema but think I’ll go back to the ordinary rope next time.


The wind is now very light and we’re only making just over 3 knots, however it’s a lovely day, I’m re reading The Restless Wind, a book my father wrote when he went sailing in the 50s with my mother and he’s also now well into a solo Atlantic crossing so I feel as though he’s keeping me company.




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