Dear wives and hearties,
If you think calm seas and light winds are champagne cruising, you are very much mistaken.
The last night had varying wind intensities involving putting in a reef (reducing the sail area) by the first watch and shaking it out by the following watch. After a glorious sunrise at the 6 am watch change, the humming of the electric bilge pump made itself quite frequent, and this is how the day really started.
Indeed, the bilge which had been made spotless the day before was quite full with salty water, which obviously meant that water from the outside had crept into what is our home, vehicle, supermarket, power plant and water source, also known as Northern Child. In order to track back where the water was coming from, my fellow companion and I pumped out the whole boat as it never had been before during the trip (quick reminder, the 4 first days have been very wet). All floorboards got lifted, and nooks crannies inspected, every through-hull-fitting controlled, but the mystery remained… So I decided to monitor the yacht’s guts on an hourly basis and carry out other jobs in the meantime, as this is simply what you do in fair weather.
While half of the crew was on duty keeping watch, the other half shared the deck having more relaxing activities such as reading, chatting or sunbathing on the cockpit’s teak deck which we clean every day buy tossing buckets of sea water and scrubbing the drains. I joined the crowd a bit later and proceeded to show a few seamanship exercises by leathering a guy (really long rope used with the spinnaker pole) and splicing the end of another guy. The reason why we take every opportunity to get jobs done is because we are basically land creatures and only tolerated at sea. Therefore we must absolutely be on the top of our game in what finally is a hostile environment, and bear in mind that failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Cheesy but so true!
We are expecting in the next couple of days to enter an area where the wind will be coming from behind the boat and on this point of sail the two guys will be very important. As we do not know what could happen next, we might as well get as much done on the job list as we can, while we can.
As the bilge mystery remained unsolved for now, Northern Child contacted our UK shore based team at Performance Yacht Charter to work out together where this leak could have come from. The situation has been in total control since the very beginning, but it was just annoying taking time to figure out where the water was coming from. The prompt answer directed us to the water maker, which high pressure pump had a dripping pipe. Once this “call a friend” joker had been granted, the issue got fixed within minutes. There are no such things as problems, there are only solutions!
By the end of the afternoon, EH01 was spotted by the watch keeper. It is fantastic to be in such a big ocean and to meet every now and then. Visual contact was made but unfortunately still no radio contact. Tomorrow at noon UTC (universal time, time at which the convoy’s skipper exchange info via email or sat phone) we will know more about their intentions, as they tacked and go closer to us and finally bore away (turning away from the wind). It seems like they are liking more our routing to their own initial plan… We are trucking down between a high pressure and a low pressure, squeezing between both weather systems and heading straight for the waypoint set on the Azores. Lord Nelson once said: “nevermind the maneuvers, just go strait at them!” This is what we are doing and so far we are doing it pretty well.
Eventually, instead of enjoying traffic jams and food to go, we got treated with an amazing sunset, a cigar and a delicious meal cooked by our all-time favourite Kiwi on board who, once again, made the magic happen by making an amazing zucchini and bacon pasta with cream sauce appear in our plates.
The nights are definitely getting fresher and we need to put on more layers on for the night watch. We even start sleeping in our sleeping bags, which tells you the contrast we are getting in terms of temperatures…
As I am typing this blog entry, It is 2000 on the boat (we still are on the Antigua time) and the first night watch has an hour left to go. Then the next lads get up for 3 hours and so forth until the morning sun. I will myself remain out of the watch system as I am jumping in upon request or just when I feel like a team needs guidance.
Tomorrow might just be as busy as today was, and hopefully we will all enjoy it as much as we did today. It is just perfect out here…
And so what did you say you did today?
Remember: one life, make sure you live it!
Skipper of Northern Child – Swan 51