Tenerife to Brazil – Day 9

Reading: The Whistleblower (Robert Peston)
Weather: NE 3, but quite shifty with some sun
Thought for the day: Who needs a Son et Lumiere show when you have dolphins playing in the dark?
Evening meal: Baked lamb chops with caramelised onions and tomatoes, roast veg and salad
Course: 185-195oC all day
Distance covered: At 1200 we had done 1244 miles and by 4pm there were just 710 miles to the equator
Flying fish headcount: Too depressing to count now …..

This is now definitively the furthest I have ever sailed in a single sitting and am slotting well and truly into routine; start watch at 6am with porridge and tea, just after 8am breakfast and clear up. Once the sun comes up do some jobs, steer for a while and perhaps do a bit of reading or chatting. Midday is lunch and watch changeover. After lunch send a location report home, rest for the afternoon and then back on watch at 6pm with supper at the start of the watch …..

We followed this routine completely today apart from a medical emergency. OK so it was only a drill, but it provided some entertainment after lunch. Rachelle acted as the victim who had fallen downstairs and was laid on the floor in the hall and the crew had to put a neck brace on her and then move her onto a stretcher and get her up on deck for a possible evacuation, though quite who is going to evacuate her from here would be a challenge. The stretcher part of the exercise was done on deck, but the rest below and the presence of a medical student among the crew added a certain realism. Eventually Rachelle was pronounced fit and healthy and allowed to go to bed after her watch!

We were also doing a summary of the wildlife we have seen today and it seems that a lot more has been seen by the other watch than us. They saw a turtle floating past, two pods of whales – one right whales and one ‘other’ – and also dolphins in the dark with all the bio-luminescence. We have just seen dolphins and Bob the booby (oh – and flying fish!) …. ah well, there’s plenty of time to go. There has been a lot more seaweed in the sea today though – great clumps of it going past regularly, so whether we are going through some sort of change, I am not sure. The water temperature is up to 28oC, so definitely tropical.

This evening was then our turn to see dolphins in the dark, or rather not see them, but watch their trails and hear them! I was on the helm and suddenly heard a burst of air along with a sound like breaking waves. I thought I saw a shape as well, but that may have been a trick of association by my brain. I called the others though and sure enough it was dolphins. They watched from the bow for a couple of minutes and then someone came and switched onto the helm so I could go forward. Watching them was like the most amazing light show. Their fins create a trail of bio-luminescence and these green pinpricks of light show us just how agile the dolphins are. A sudden 180 degree turn is nothing as they dart from side to side of the bow wave with trails often inter-twining as they play together. Every so often this light show was punctuated by a rapid expulsion of air when they broke surface. We watched for about 10 minutes before they headed off, clearly quite unaware of the impact they have on us – a truly memorable experience.

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