Tenerife to Brazil – Day 20

Reading: An Unsung Hero (Michael Smith) & Dead Lions – Mick Herron (second in the Slow Horses series)
Weather: E 2-3 – dropping a little and backing. Sunny ….
Thought for the day: What do dolphins get out of playing around the bow of boats?
Evening meal: Couscous mix with meat and veg and salad
Course: 185-210oC
Distance covered: At 1200 we had done 2,585 miles
Wildlife headcount: A red footed booby sitting overnight on the mizzen peak halyard, a flock of boobies overhead, dolphins (twice) and a whale in the distance – clearly saw it blowing and its fin for five minutes or so – probably a sperm whale, but possibly a hump back.

The morning watch was taken up with more splicing. Now that the easterly trade winds are more what we expected and it is dry, we can get on with maintenance around the place. One of the key jobs is still replacing the ratlines on the port side so we are carrying on with splicing the steps while Erik occasionally goes up the mast to fix them on.

Other than that is has been quite a day for wildlife. We had dolphins around the bow for around ten minutes mid watch and then, with immaculate timing, they re-appeared at the watch changeover when we could all see them. In the clear water and with the overhead sun we could clearly see them darting around – playful, but at the same time appearing purposeful. What exactly their purpose is though is a mystery. Their movement looks smooth and effortless as they switch direction at a seconds notice and dart around avoiding each other just under the bow. We could even see clearly a mother and calf – the calf sticking limpet-like to the mother’s side. Their playfulness evokes a similar feeling in those of us watching and you cannot fail to feel uplifted and transported for a time as you watch them. You have no idea how long you are watching them as time just becomes irrelevant. Their dexterity and fluidity of movement makes it clear that they are in their environment – perhaps they are just demonstrating to us their mastery of the domain. The only reality check on this was when one darted around to avoid another, jumped out of the water slightly directly at the bow and nicked the bobstay with his fin. Unperturbed he just carried on and sadly a few minutes later they went.

Once they did we changed the flying jib for the larger one and then did a fire and abandon ship exercise for the crew. Rachelle even got into a survival suit, though given that they are one-size-fits-all it looked more like a survival bag on her.

Just before the afternoon watch changeover Rachelle called me – they had spotted a whale in the distance. It took me a couple of minutes to see it clearly but the best way was to look out for it blowing. A spout of water emerges volcano-like from the waves and this clearly gives away its location. A second or two later the fin breaks the surface. While we were heading south, it was heading north and slowly we parted company, but the memory lingers for a lot longer.