Tenerife to Brazil – Day 11

Reading: An Unsung Hero (Michael Smith) – about Tom Crean (Antarctic explorer)
Weather: Very variable, but starting to establish from the SE 1-3. Temperature about 35oC (on deck and below). When the sun is out, the deck is too hot to walk on!
Thought for the day: Doldrums, schmoldrums (or am I tempting fate) …..
Evening meal: Roast chicken pieces with baby potatoes, mini bell peppers and salad
Course: 195oC most of the time
Distance covered: At 1200 we had done 1,512 miles with 2,312 to possible arrival in Brazil and around 420 miles to the equator
Wildlife headcount: Bob the Booby came back for a while and a couple of small other birds, but the excitement was another booby – a red-footed booby …..

Though the engine was on a little through the night, by the time we came on watch we were sailing nicely again. The wind has come and gone all day, probably more gone than come, but we are still making reasonable progress and the engine has only been on for a couple of hours today. It seems that, a lot earlier than expected, we are in the influence of the SE trade winds and more often than not we are sheeting in as the wind kicks in. Whether this will last remains to be seen over the next 48 hours, but by the time we get to the equator we would reasonably expect to be back in a SE trade wind flow as this generally extends north of the equator at this time of year.

With the wind coming in and out and shaking it all about, we are very dependent on the wind instruments to see where the wind is coming from. Rather than Navionics i70 style instruments as Charmary has, we have a more grounded variety on Tecla. These are one step up from the licking a finger and putting it in the air type and are strips of sail cloth attached to the shrouds. Initially we only had one and kept having to change it from place to place, so this morning saw a major upgrade. This upgrade came from an old Dutch ensign which was carefully cut up (is this treasonous?) to give us four new tell-tales, so we now have an instant analogue readout of the wind direction along the whole of the side of the boat. For the wind strength information there is a printout of an almanac page in the navigation area giving the Beaufort scale with small pictures of the waves expected for each wind force. A comparison with that gives the information which is posted in the log.

This decidedly low-tech approach to wind instruments is something of a contrast with other technology on board which includes a full computer navigation system, a laptop which is linked to an Iridium satellite phone and yellow-brick satellite tracker and a range of radio and other equipment. It does make you think though about the extent to which we need sophisticated wind instruments.