Tenerife to Brazil – Day 13

Reading: An Unsung Hero (Michael Smith)
Weather: Very light winds and hot, hot, hot ….
Thought for the day: A water temperature of 28oC is like swimming in a bath ….
Evening meal: A beef in beer style stew with roast potatoes and salad
Course: 195oC towards the equator – engine on most of the day
Distance covered: At 1200 we had done 1,757 miles
Wildlife headcount: The other watch spotted a frigate bird today …..

A busy day today one way or another. We moved time back an hour again yesterday, so it is now getting light first thing in our morning watch and dark within an hour in our evening watch. As it got light this morning Erik was immediately up the mast again trying to sort the binding on one of the topping lifts while the mainsail is down. However, this time he could go up the ratlines in a harness so didn’t need pulling up. Although he was still rolling around all over the place, at least he wasn’t playing chicken with the mast as well!

He had nearly finished this when we decided to take the mizzen down. A particularly menacing looking squall was heading our way, so we took the mizzen down and carried on under staysail and engine only. In fact the wind in it was not that strong, but the rain was torrential. For about 25 minutes we stood with jackets on and rain hammering on the hood as if knocking and trying to outwit the Gore Tex. It succeeded. We didn’t even bother with waterproof trousers, just letting shorts get wet – everything dries off quickly when the sun comes out again. It was so wet that eventually Erik decided to wash his hair in the rain. This worked well until with immaculate comedic timing he was well and truly soaped up and the rain stopped!

The rest of the watch was a little quieter and easy steering with just engine on. The rock and roll continues but in a more melodic and gentle phase with the seas slowly easing. A contradictory swell remains though, some coming from the NE and some from the SE, so it is far from still. We are now getting the full doldrums experience with squalls and pretty much no wind at all most of the time, so we are motoring to try to break through to the south-east trade winds on the other side.

After lunch we stopped – engine onto idle, a lifebelt hung over the stern and a boarding ladder over the side – swim time. It was like jumping into a bath which induced a kind of warm water shock, surprise at the temperature stopping your brain registering properly that you needed to swim. That was quickly overcome though and it was then hugely refreshing. The whole crew went in, though either the skipper or first mate remained on board at all times in case and the engine was running all the time. The water is around 3,000m deep here – 3km deep. It is difficult to say exactly, not least because no depth sounder is going to work here anyway, but also because charted depths vary a bit. We are approaching some islands in the middle of the ocean – San Pedro. They are tiny – about 0.2 miles across is the largest – and they are uninhabited, but they are marked as a large red blob on the chart plotter to make sure we stay well clear! They may be part of a chain including Saint Helena and other Atlantic islands on an underwater ridge, but this may need some more research. They are the first hazard we have had since the Cape Verde islands and we stayed over 100 miles away from them anyway, so never saw them.