Brazil to The Falklands – Day 4

Reading: Meantime (Frankie Boyle)
Weather: Mostly dry but grey. Occasional rain threatened. Wind E veering NNE 4-5 gusting 6 …..
Thought for the day: The Dutch word for a clothes peg literally translates as ‘clothes pincher’.
Evening meal: Baked ham with baby potatoes, roast pumpkin, carrot and onion (with sunflower seeds) and an olive and honey tapenade
Course: 170-190oC
Distance covered: At 1200 we had covered 504 miles (Log 4,689)
Wildlife headcount: A black-browed albatross ….

We are going surprisingly well under our reduced rig. Still making between 6 and 7 knots under just two sails, but the rock and roll is ever present making most everyday tasks fairly challenging. We are not able to shower at the moment to preserve water as the watermaker doesn’t like the rolling. The inlet keeps coming out of the water as we roll and that shuts the system off automatically. So we are waiting for slightly more settled weather to increase the water stocks. We have plenty for getting to the Falklands, but adding to consumption with showers at the moment is probably best avoided. Total capacity on the tanks is around 7,000 litres but we are probably down to 2-3,000 at the moment.

The rest of the day was spent trying to find a course that is the most comfortable and for reasonable periods we succeeded, but then a pattern of awkward waves knocks things out and you have to start again trying to settle the boat down. Our seasick crew member has hopefully turned a corner and is much more positive – she has eaten and drunk a little, so that is a major turnaround.

The evening watch took on a new character though. We were expecting to pass through a frontal system and into lighter winds the other side. Our expectation was that this would be in the early hours of the morning. My experience of fronts is that this is gradual weather changes – wind increases a little, shifts and then some rain and so on …. This one was though a front on steroids – a true grown up front with attitude. Within two hours of our watch starting the wind increased to probably 25+ knots – even with just the staysail and reefed mizzen we were doing 8 knots downwind. Then within minutes the heavens opened. This was not just rain, but a sheet of water dropping vertically. Every flap on the waterproofs came into play to try to protect ourselves and muffled up we had a very limited perspective on the world. All we could hear was the relentless unrhythmic drumming of the rain on the waterproof hood – like a manic Keith Moon after going on an all-day bender. Equally quickly we then lost steerage as the wind died completely and with our limited rig we were at the mercy of the waves. They took over from the rudder as the dominant force and decided that beam on would be a good position for us – we were less convinced. So, the engine went on to give us some control and we headed on blindly into the murk staring resolutely forwards pretending this was fun! By the end of the watch we had to take the mizzen down – it was just flapping ineffectively and not even steadying us at all.