small world sailing

Day 10

N33.40.59 W061.32.37

Wind SW verring F6-7 Gusting F8 Heading 050T

A Hard Days Night.

Last night was a mini adventure. Fustrated as I was with yesturdays light
winds being stuck under a front all day, a little after lunch I un-reefed
the mainsail and poled out the foresail with the spinika pole again but this
time a little reefed down so the pole was clipped onto the toe rail to
starbord and the tack of the foresail to port.

I retired to bed, remarkable little boat this, the waves can be 12+ feet and
yet sleeping in the saloon bunks you can hardly feel the boat moving.


I went up to check all was well a couple of times, the wind had picked up
and we we’re trucking along at 6-7kts……fabulas. On my third vist the
wind had increased further still and now the rig was becoming over pressed.
Time to take action.

A spinika pole is an aluminium bar with a quick release clasp at either end.
These clasps are joined together by a cord the length of the bar and by
pulling the cord this way and that you can release the clasp on the end you

I let the foresail line go slack then moved forward to release the pole, the
tack of the sail is a good few feet outboard so to release the pole involved
sitting on the deck, pulling at the cord to release the clasp and jiggling
the end of the pole to release the sail. After some effort the sail went
free and placing the pole down on the deck I returned to the cockpit to pull
in the foresail line and stop the sail from flogging. This done I went back
forward to retreive the pole………but it was not there!

Oh (insert suitable expletive)! thought I. In pulling on the cord to release
the foresail and in the ruff and tumble of the night I must have released
the clasp to the toe rail and whilst back in the cockpit it had slipped
quietly beneth the waves.

To be honest, I feel more annoyed for not checking the pole was still
attached than I do for loosing it. It was too big and heavy and cluttered
the side deck to starbord always getting lines and saftey strops caught
init. I’m sure it was not the right pole for the boat as it was around 16ft
long. I had thought it was a liability swinging it around on the foredeck
between the stays and trying not to go overboard with it. In fact, it nearly
didn’t make it on the trip, I nearly left it in Nassau.

Being single handed is an entirly different experience to sailing with crew.
Every element is different, sleeping, eating and of course sailing. It
requires it’s own techniques, there are some oddities to how I have this
boat rigged, but they work for me. Had I have had a helmsman, I could have
called to sheet in the foresail and carried on removing the pole back to its
place myself, but it wasn’t to be. Whilst I have rigged a Spinika single
handed before, it wasn’t overly sucessful and ended up going over the side
when I took it down, so the loss of the pole is not something to dwel on,
what I would like now though is a whisker pole designed specifically for
poling out foresails in light downwind situations, my downwind performance
from here on in will have to be re-thought.

Now, with it blowing hard, I’m sailing under reefed down main only, no
foresail at all, doing 5-6kts in the direction I want to go, big seas again
and if one wave knocks you suffitiantly off course I have to go help the
Hydrovane correct the course. Considering the near gale force nature of the
conditions I am amazed and pleasently supprised by how well my little ship
behaves, running before the wind obviously takes a bit of a kick out of the
situation with the boats speed reducing the apparent wind, and it is a happy
coincedence that I happen to be travelling in the right direction whilst
running away, but I have spent most of the day in the cockpit reading a
biography of Syd Barrett (pink floyds original singer) who took too much LCD
and went mad (thanks to Rene for that one, very insightful) and as you can
tell by the length of this entry, I’m not feeling pressed to keep things on
track, though I’m prepared not to get too much sleep tonight.

In other news;

Herbs got a bit of a lisp, which is quite nice to listen to on the radio,
telling everyone how their next 24hrs will pan out weatherwise, “idewally
you should head north apwroximatwe 20degwees”. Last night however I heard
him talking to a navigator with a stutter…..laugh, I nearly drowned!.
“M-M-My position is N-N-North33-3,1-1decimal22-2,9-9
W-W-West66-6,88-8decimal55-5,8” not sure how sensible it is to have such a
navigator even in the age of PC equal oppertunities and all that guff, some
things just lack common sense.

I can feel the force. Proper sailing this is.


May 21, 2008 at 19:32 Comments (0)

Day 09

N32.09.10 W062.52.65

Heading 050T Winds SW 10kts or less

Great news everyone, Eleanor has agreed to login and be my english teacher and spell all my words right, yay!

So wiulsgrehg; ai ;acn ah; aighn hag;lds n ha;fh oa;jrmcghplfm HAHAHAHAHAHAH!

Today has been a bit of a downer, the hardest day yet, very poor wind, overcast and drizzled much of the day. Still waiting expectantly for the heavy blow promised over the next two days but we’ll see. Will have a listen to Herb again in an hour and see what he says. Everything is wet, including me, it hangs in the air and soaks through everything even when it’s not raining, it’s most depressing. It’s been cold today too, a very chilly 22C which I can’t say I like either.

So, not to worry about such things and with no concern for the fact that I’m in the middle of an ocean, I cooked myself a nice cheese pasta with mixed green beans and baby clams! UMMMMMM bet some of you don’t eat that good at home do you?

I have the most respect for anyone who can navigate in the traditional mannor. I’ve passed Bermuda within 25miles and I couldn’t tell you it was there, other than I know it is cause the GPS says so.
Further, theres been complete cloud cover last night and today so no sights could have been taken even if I had/ new how to use a Sexton.

My fall back plan in the event that all three of my GPS and both laptops fail (well, they are windows) is to go by dead reakoning, but I’m supprised how much difference there is between the track of my boat via the GPS and the compass bearing, sometimes upto 15degs!?

I’m sure I’d hit Europe, probably the UK……..but where?

Today I have my GPS’s and Sat phone, email, blogging, google earth and my electric toothbrush, most of which have been bourne out of necessity and none of which take too much away from what I’m doing out here but there is a peice of me that thinks, god’ I couldn’t do this the old way with a Sexton, Compass and a time peice that doesn’t quite keep time……..I wouldn’t.

There are plenty of people long since dead that will always be more clever and braver than I’ll ever hope to be and I don’t just mean columbas and the like, I mean all the Clipper captains and early Streamers, building the blocks of a capatalist and global socity that today we take so much for granted. Mad when you think about it.

shine on, you crazy diamonds

May 20, 2008 at 20:03 Comments (0)

Day 08

N31.39.85 W064.46.59

Heading 060T Winds F3-4 and building.

Well, I’ve made time, just passed by the south side of Bermuda. It’s sounds, from the Radio, a bastian of Britishness and I kind of wish I was stopping. I know the right thing to do is to get out in front of all the other boats leaving on Wednesday with the Rally. It’s the longest leg of the trip and it’ll certainly feel nice have all all those boats behind me. I’ll stop next time.

Been listening to Herb on the SSB and looks like we’re going to get a bit of a blow tomorrow and Wednesday.

Had another kamakazi fish on deck this morning.

So, alls well, going to keep a weather eye on the next few days.

Next stop, Latitude 35N with some or more easting for good measure.


May 19, 2008 at 22:31 Comments (0)

Day 07

N30.47.03 W067.17.48

Heading 040T Winds Light SW

Super News – 138miles logged yesturday just 6 miles off the magic 144 (6kts average) would have had it too, but was again becalmed in the wee smalls and this has yet to rectify itself with any decent wind so back to 4-5kts an hour at the mo’.

Slept badly as a result, baggy sails flapping and keeping me up but was making steady albeit slow progress so left them up, unlike the previous night.

Past Latitude 30N last night, big mile stone. I discovered that this is how I keep my head on sain. To think of two more weeks at sea dosn’t do you any good, but I have three more mile stones to get to in the mean time, after clearing Bermuda Mon/Tues.

Everythings working well, I’ve made some adjustments to the rigging that make life simpler still and food is plentyfull though I’ve realised I’ve got no T-Bags. Went forward this morning to rigg a new tackle that I’d made up whilst not sleeping and found two flying fish on deck, one with a baby ejaculated from its mouth, dumb creatures. I haven’t plucked up the courage to pick them up yet, I don’t get pukey about hardly anything but whole dead fish I can’t abide. I might go up with the dustpan and brush in a bit and chuck them over the side.

Half Price finally managed to draw blood today by throwing a block at me, cutting my right big toe, I didn’t notice at first, being dumb as an ox, these things take time to set in, so then spent some considerable time cleaning blood out of the carpet. She’s only being playfull I know, but like a small dog, she can take it too far some times. I’ll have to have a word.

It rained today, a little rain has to fall (as Sophie on the dock is keen on saying (miss my Bahama friends)) – like a rellative you could live without seeing again but knew you must, it rained. Not hard but everything was soaked through before even a drop had fallen, very wierd, like a really cold steam room. Cleared all the crusty salt from the canvas though so a silver lining.

Realised today that I’m taking to myself a little more than usuall, this is not of concern as my usual ramblings are some what incoherent and inconsiquential where as these chats are more structured and informative, a positive sign I would say.

Todays blog has been bought to you by the letter N and the numbers 3 & 0.


May 18, 2008 at 21:02 Comments (0)

Day 06

N29.19.76 W069.10.93
Wind SW Heading050T 
Supprisingly good news, 95miles covered yesturday, better than expected. My milage is noon to noon Zulu so I did have all of last night to make up some of the difference.
Toyed with the idea of taking down my GooseWing arrangement which involves a bit of deck work that I didn’t fancy having to do in the dark. The problem with this sail plan is, once the wind picks up a bit the boat tends to yaw so much so that the helm can’t keep track, this is due to the fact that the sails are uneven in size and one is set forward of the other. Imagine trying to push a supermarket trolley with only your left hand and you get an idea of the issue. In the end I decided to leave it all in place and was not disapointed. This morning we were running at 5-6kts at one point as we surfed down the wave I clocked 8.9kts and whats more, more or less, we’re heading in the right direction so all speed is good speed.
Wouldn’t it be awful if you had those voices on your GPS like you do in Car SatNav’s, unless you could get the novelty voices like John Cleese or Billy Conerlly ‘Och noo, your supose to be doing 60deg, not 30 you stupid Ba%#$%d!’  Imagine leaving the Bahamas and having some mundane womans voice with imperfect inflecion announce ‘In 3900miles, arrive at destination’ good greiff.
Begining to pick up bits of Bermuda Radio which is encouraging. Sun is shinning and all is well. Last night once the wind returned there was much rejoicing culminating in an impressive air guitar performane to Green Day. Today has seen some fabulas sailing and will reach Bermuda only a day later than expected, this is to the good though as that means I’ll only be one day ahead of the pack leaving on the ARC europe rally, it’ll be nice to have company. 
Peace out!
May 17, 2008 at 20:50 Comments (0)

Day 05

N27.49.03 W070.40.20
Heading 023T Winds, light variable and building.
Funny day yesturday, wind quit at 0430 and so motored most of the day till at 1430 the motor got all upperty about being a bit warm. I threw a selection of gunks and greeses at it which greatly improved it’s mood but this is clearly not a motor to get you anywhere, simply designed to move the boat off the dock and nothing more, well, not in it’s 26th year anyway.
But it had an odd effect on me, as a slight breeze returned yesturday afternoon I felt really good, reside to the fact that if the weathers not with me I aint going. This means I’m going to have to ‘sail’ home! Sounds odd I know but there you are.
I think too that the first three days where a bit odd, firstly I was nervous and felt quite sick as I said, this gave way to paranoia in so much as every slight noise was to me the yachts way of telling me it was ready to sink, I must have checked the sea cocks about 20 times in those first two days and the mast was due to fall off on any of 100 occasions. Then Day 3 was a hard slog weatherwise and I got very tierd.
So the motor thingy and the windlessness of the best part of the day that had been preceeded by the above mentioned just kind of felt a little overwelming, so last night I sat with Van Morrison and Neil Young on the stereo which some how seemed appropriate and had a couple of beers, howling at the moon ;o) 
The wind had left by 0230 as was forcast so not unexpected. In the end, I took down the sails. Every time I picked up a bit of breeze and got my head down, I would be woken 10mins later to the sound of the sails dancing wildly to some unheard astral tune in the still night air, released from their burden of work and would emerge to the cockpit to find the boat piroetting on the spot in joyful abandon of her primary function in stark disreguard for her masters need to sleep. Once the sails were stowed I retiered to bed hurt and confused.
I awoke though in a good mood again having drifted only a few miles and in the right direction as well, bonus. I ran the engine for a few hours only really as a battery charging excercise and then sat slowly slowly crawling forward at 1-2knts. Now, with the sails poled out to either side of the boat (goose winged) and the self steer keeping her on a dead run we are traveling again at 4-5knts but the day has been lost, with only 66miles covered yesturday and a big dent in todays proceedings also.
Still, forcasts of good SE winds promise a good couple of days to make up a miles, so all is well.
May 16, 2008 at 20:58 Comments (0)

Day 04

N27.24.29 W071.29.74

Heading 060T Wind N light and variable

I had some Romantic preconseptions about what this would be like, one was the thought of healthy breezes off the quater pushing inexorably on toward my destination, cold beer in one hand, hearty hot meal in the other.

Two, the battle with adversity, howling gales, reefed down canvas and spray everywhere, a search for survival. Kevin will know how much this excites me and by default scares him!

The reality is more mundane, certainly there have been high winds and high seas, but the boat drifts over these mountainous waves as they undulate beneath me, changing my horizon from near to far about every 15 seconds. This is more uncomfortable than anything and the effort involved in the most trival task is rather embarising. Further more, Half Price has consistantly thrown an assortment of heavy and sharp objects at my feet, however, they remain stubornly in one peice, well, two peices actually, with only a slight graze to my left big toe. So life goes on, I might even have a shave later.

Hot meals are not in short supply, however they are served, now, in tupperware rather than plates and bottles of drink rather than mugs. The coffee down the wash board and sugar puffs over the cockpit sole can testify to a lesson hard learnt here.

More pressing matters currently include; How the hell has everything I own now got a fine dusting of dry salt on it? inside and out! everytime I lick my lips I take 10yrs of my life. When will there be enough sun to at least warm the water in my solar shower, my bonce is a cross somewhere between an Afro and Dreadlocks, if I don’t get some soapy water through my hair soon it’s going to have to all come off and I don’t look good with a crew cut.

I’ve made some good millage this last two days, 133nm and 123nm, however, my actual (as the crow flys) average is currently 95 miles a day. This is not, in my mind, bad going and I think this average will improve, particularly toward the end of the week when strong SE winds are predicted.

Of course, if I was Jesus I could walk home quicker, but then I’d have to pretend to like lepers.

All’s well on the good ship ‘half price’

By the way, those of you used to recieving email from me that has had a spell check performed on it (not a facitlity I have here) may be shocked to find that in actual fact I spell like a 2yr old. Anyone with time on their hands who would like to save me from this embarisment can email for login details and correct acordingly ;o)

As you where.

May 15, 2008 at 20:48 Comments (0)

Day 03

N27.08.03 W073.16.32

Heading 080T Wind N F5-6

Saw my fisrt ship today, scotish lady captain radio’d over to say hi. Was nice.

Huge seas and winds in the north, I need to do some northing soon, heading ENE at the mo.

settling into a rytham, my most important peices of equipment have turned out to be my egg timer and my Hydrovane self steer, without either of these, life would be unbearable.

Sleeping well, quickly and often, reading and generally ok. Life is for the most part idill puntuacted my moments of extream atheletasium. I never knew you could break sweat by going for a pee!

Have been close hauled now for 36hrs and it’s a bit much, the boat healing as they do in such circumstances to 20 or 30deg. pitching and rolling on these huge seas. Occasionally one of these waves will break on the side of the hull, spraying everthing and everyone on board.

Clocked 133miles yesturday though which is good good good, just not quite in the right direction, well, you can’t have everything.


May 14, 2008 at 20:12 Comments (0)

Day 02

N26.47.31 W075.31.18

Wind N F5 Heading 054T

Calmed as I was at two this morning, I run the motor for a few hours before the wind returned in the north. Today has been a fabulas sail trucking along at 5-6kts and in the direction I would like to travel, what fun.

Going to BBQ a chicken for tea.

L x.

May 13, 2008 at 21:06 Comments (0)

Day 01

N25.56.87 W076.57.02

Wind Light WNW Heading 033T

Feeling a bit sick, as sick as I’ve ever felt on a boat, it’s passing, be ok tomorrow.

Good sailing earlier, waiting for the wind to track round now as they promised.

Alls well.


May 13, 2008 at 00:18 Comments (0)

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