Brazil to The Falklands – Day 9

Reading: Winter Holiday (Arthur Ransome)
Weather: Sunny, wind building very slightly …..
Thought for the day: Are we currently heading into a current which is currently slowing us down?
Evening meal: Roast pork, potatoes and veg
Course: 190-220oC
Distance covered: At 1200 we had covered 1,211 miles (Log 5,396)
Wildlife headcount: A few albatrosses and cape pigeons

The last few days Sanne and I have been practising with the sextant. The first day was a little frustrating as we were almost exactly a degree of latitude out – 60 miles further from the Falklands than we actually were. Not quite sure what we got wrong, but that seems quite a large margin of error. So we tried again yesterday and once again – nearly 60 miles out … Frustrating …. except this time, it turns out that it was my maths! I added the zenith distance and the declination wrongly and in fact, once we corrected my cock-up we were less than four miles out ….. result ….

At midday the sails went up …. Possibly slightly optimistically but we made slow progress and it was much more peaceful than under engine. The speed over the ground we had been making had been quite variable under engine and the weirdest thing was that quite a small course change would lead to a significant change in the course over the ground. So, it appears we have found the Falklands current. This is a current heading along the South American coast in a north north easterly direction. We will probably be pushing against this for much of the rest of the way.

The number of birds we are seeing has declined in the last twenty-four hours or so and we are wondering whether they were very focused around the area where the various currents meet. Does this create a richer feeding area where the birds tend to focus? Speculation, but then what else are you going to do wandering around the ocean completely on your own …..

The weather reports are very variable. It looks like we will still have light winds for a few hours with a stronger interlude shortly, followed perhaps by another sharp frontal change and then a windless (but not waveless!) section again, followed by another blow as we approach the Falklands.

In anticipation of the blow the main came down before supper and, as is often the case, I took the topsail sheet to try to control the gaff as the peak halyard is lowered. At one stage though the sheet objected to being controlled and so took on a life of its own, popping off the pins and taking me careering across the boat with it. Luckily (?) there was a solid metal waterproof door to stop me. The bruises may take some days to go down!