Tenerife to Brazil – Day 8

Reading: The Riddle of the Sands (Erskine Childers) – finished
Weather: NE 3-4 some sun with some Simpson’s clouds
Thought for the day: Let’s hope they don’t turn off the GPS until I have got to at least chapter 3 of the astro-navigation book …
Evening meal: Vegetarian lasagne
Course: 190-200oC all day
Distance covered: At 1200 we had done 1064 miles and by 4pm there were just 836 miles to the equator
Flying fish headcount: More death every night, but we don’t count any more …..

We are well and truly in the trade winds today. Though the wind varies a bit during the day (and particularly the night) depending on the cloud cover, the direction stays fairly consistent and we never seem to have less than 12-15 knots. So we are broad-reaching at anything between 6 and 8 knots depending on the breeze – fast, comfortable sailing.

At the end of the morning watch Jet started going through a noon sight with a few of us. The first part of the calculation was to work out when the sun was going to be at its highest so we knew when to take the sight. This meant estimating an approximate latitude and from the tables working out the transit of the sun. We worked out that it would be at its peak at just after 12.37pm local time. So, after lunch, out came the sextant and Jet went through how to check it for errors – first of all the perpendicularity of the sextant and then any index error from the mirrors. Then, making sure the appropriate index and horizon shades were in place, we looked through the telescope part and slowly brought the sun down to the horizon, holding the clamp and moving it along the main scale at the same time. Once close to the horizon we let go of the clamp and starting making smaller adjustments on the micrometer until the bottom of the sun appeared to just gently kiss the horizon. Then keep checking and checking as it goes up, until it reaches its peak. The time is then taken along with the angle. Then the ‘interesting’ part begins with the calculations. We’ll fast forward through that bit, but suffice it to say, let’s hope they don’t turn off the GPS signal just yet!

After all that excitement and with the winds a little lighter on average, the larger jib was then hoisted. This is sheeted to the end of the staysail boom, so the old one came down, halyard, outhaul (to haul it along the bowsprit) and sheets were re-attached to the new bigger one and led through the staysail and up it went again. All nearly went smoothly apart from the staysail outhaul getting twisted, so out came the crowbar to make gentle technical adjustments to it – well to hammer and lever it back into place anyway. No subtle adjustments on board here ……