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Sunday, October 11, 2009


What awful news. Sally and Andrew were good friends. Our thoughts and feelings are with their families and loved ones.

When the dolphins break the bow wave, when an albatross glides past the stern, we will remember them.

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1850/10th 3411 01405

Berri is rolling and flopping around and I'm wedged in with everything except the fingertips helping to keep me there. Not a comfy way to go sailing. In any but the softest conditions Berri is not a comfortable boat when she's so packed full of stuff - there's nowhere to sit relaxed, even in the cockpit.

Later - 0100/11th
Jumbled thoughts - I've got several books going - Obama reading himself on the gadget, Brian Greene and the Cosmos, Wrath of God by Edward Paice, about the 1755 Lisbon earthquake and fire (Thanks John - and for your article. What a grim tale - I think the irony works but that's perhaps because I grew up in England. There are people who would see it much more literally and be offended) and The Barefoot Navigator by Jack Lagan. Bit of a luxury really.

Art forms of our ancestors - sailing to windward and tacking a square rigger, using a sextant, finding ones way home across an ocean for the first time. First, perhaps, the Polynesians, then the Vikings then the Portugese...easy to see how the C15 Portugese found Madeira - just leave the Tagus at this time of year in a square rigger and six days later, bobsyer! But the question is why would the first man to do it actually want to do it? In those days they hugged the coast down to Africa. And Bartholomeu Dias setting off for the Cape of Good Hope via (almost) the coast of Brazil? Mistake, force of circumstance or deliberate? And by 1755 they had lost all that fire and vision. Dissolute, profligate and obsessively religious on the profits of slavery and the overseas territories

Back in this blog, there's a photo of the replica caravel on the Tagus. It is lateen rigged - 2 masts, triangular sails on huge yards - effective to windward but very difficult to tack because it's not easy to get the yard around to the other side of the mast. I couldn't get close enough to see whether there was some arrangement. The alternative, much less efficient, is to wear or gybe - a 300 degree turn instead of 100. The Portugese probably developed this rig by copying the Arabs whose dhows would have used it for at least hundreds of years.

The moon is up, black patchy cloud, glimpses of Kochab, Polaris, Mizer, what I think is Deneb - moonlight on steel black water...glorious night. We've just sailed across the Seine seamount - 4000 metres up to a hundred or so - almost another island in the Madeira Archipelago.

Now it's 0700 - at 15 W we are an hour earlier in local time than Greenwich.
Position 3321 01456 Trip 1269 (134/24) and we should pass Madeira this evening AGW

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