Tenerife to Brazil- Day 18

Reading: An Unsung Hero (Michael Smith) & Dead Lions – Mick Herron (second in the Slow Horses series)
Weather: Wind more consistent – SE 3-4
Thought for the day: Only one more booby and we will have collected the full set ….
Evening meal: Spinach, aubergine and feta quiche with fried aubergine (the aubergines were on their last legs!)
Course: 195-210oC
Distance covered: At 1200 we had done 2508 miles
Wildlife headcount: A new booby today – the masked booby. A few others were also back with us and Fred and Freda the frigate birds were with us all night using the decks for target practice.

More tacking practice – we tacked back south again today at the end of the night watch (midnight), so at last heading in the right direction again. The day has been spent steering to get as high as possible to clear the military zone around Fernando da Naronha. As well as a military site, it is apparently also an exclusive resort. I guess the visitors feel well protected! The islands are also popular with divers diving to look at sea turtles and all the various tropical waterlife.

Much of the morning watch was spent learning to splice laid rope again – an increasingly arcane art which Dad taught me. On either side of the mainmast are a series of ratlines for the crew to climb up and do the rig checks, but some of the top ones on the port side have got damaged by chafe and so we were making new ones. This meant creating a short strop (around 20cm) with an eye splice either end – a fairly interesting task as it was only possible to do two tucks before the splices butted into each other. The other complication was that the rope reel we were doing it from was four-strand rope – not something I have come across before. This adds more than twenty five percent in difficulty to the splice compared to three strand as the initial tucks are more difficult to see. Still, nothing like a challenge in the morning! Once these were done I did a new eye splice in the mizzen preventer as that was rapidly unravelling and looking like it had grown a beard.

The rest of the day followed the normal pattern heading down to clear the islands, but at 1750 a shout we hadn’t heard in 18 days – land, land. Someone very excitedly pointed going “It’s there, it’s there …. look” and peering through a slight haze on the horizon there appeared something that looked more out of Jurassic Park – a kind of extreme version of one of the Australian Glasshouse Mountains. An extreme isosceles triangle pointing skywards looking a little like something on the London skyline. Slowly over the next half hour more details of Fernando da Naronha emerged, making it look all the more intriguing, its inaccessibility to us leading us to speculate more about what it might be like. We were not to know though given that we couldn’t land without checking in, so the mystery remained ….. Our last view of the islands was of their outline against a beautiful sunset sky with the sun vanishing just to the right of them, our last hope of a pina colada on the beach vanishing along with the islands themselves.