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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Things you learn and random rewards

Another occasion for a Random Reward - soon, DV & WP, we will cross 5 degrees West, the longitude of Falmouth, so we will have sailed the massive arc of ocean necessary to get around West Africa and we will really be heading for home. Then there's 1.15W, the longitude of Cowes, the furthest East we have been. Then there's the Greenwich Meridian. Each a potential cause for celebration should one be needed. The GPS trip reads 5478nm - roughly the distance we have sailed from Falmouth, but still 13 degrees of longitude to go to complete the arc.

Just surfed off a breaking wave at 10 knots - twin poling in these conditions is such an easy way to go - stable and mostly fail-safe. But we have the lower stormboard in and the cone of silence down. For those who don't know Berri, the cockpit is unusual in that it has no sill or barrier between it and the inside of the boat so if a breaking wave crashes over the top, the cock[it will fill and the water - a couple of cubic metres or two tonnes of water - could all do a Niagara straight into the boat, all over the electronics here at the nav table and potentially into our bunks, the engine, even, in a real disaster, the fuel tank if we happen to be filling it. So, we have stormboards, lower and upper - very substantial shutters that fit exactly into the 'doorway' or companionway and seal the inside of the boat from the possible deluge. The lower one is sufficient for these conditions but we often need both in the southern ocean. As backup, there is the Cone of Silence, a curtain of thick plastic sheet that hangs down across the navigation and electronics space when needed. This has saved our bacon countless times when random and unexpected water sloshes through the companionway. But it's airless and sticky and 'orrible inside it prodding the keyboard.

And - most notably crossing the Atlantic from Greenland last year - in these following seas we have twice flooded the engine with water backflowing up the exhaust hose even though we put a stopper in the outer end and there's a one way silencer box that should prevent this but after some agonising, I concluded that cooling water in the exhaust must pool in the box and in a steep and violent pitch, this water flows back into the engine, so we - Gordy did most of it - fitted a big valve between the box and the exhaust manifold. If we feel it necessary to close this, we take the key out of the ignition first and hang it over the GPS. Then - and only then - we close the valve. The key stays there until after the valve is reopened.

Time for the breakfast ritual.

A bit of ritual - part 3?

Nice one from Carla in Baton Rouge:
Watched the movie Serenity and thought of you and Berri. The lead character
tells the first rule of flying (a spaceship): "You can learn all the math in
the 'verse, but you take a boat in the air that you don't love, she'll shake
you off just as sure as the turning of worlds. Love keeps her in the air
when she oughtta fall down, tells ya she's hurtin' 'fore she keens, makes
her a home." Fair winds and lots of love, Carla.

Reminds me a bit of Arthur's instructions to Fenchurch about flying - I've lost the exact words...

Barometer still falling but I think we're about to reach the bottom of this one. Hoping to get to CT by Dec 5th for special invitation to friend's post Fastnet meeting. Just do-able if we can negotiate the high behind this little blast. We are due to meet it tomorrow near the top where there are easterly winds - adverse, for the nautically challenged - but I'm hoping we've finessed it so that we can head just east of south for a day or so until we see what's behind it. Big following sea at the mo - perhaps 3 - 4 metres and breaking where it is amplified over the swell - and Berri is rolling horribly. Sometimes in the really big ones we go through gunwale to gunwale with a bit of corkscrew as well. Very much one hand for the boat, one for yourself and don't you forget it. Pete wedged into his bunk with beanie and airline face mask oblivious. Cone if silence down and lower stormboard in, making water with the engine charging the battery. In these following winds, the Whizzer can't keep up with the discharge so we have to supplement its efforts.

Ritual: Every Wednesday, Pete collects bucket, soap, fresh water and towel and goes to foredeck, gets naked - pimply wrinkled old fart that he is - and throws sea water over himself, then washes the flakes off with soap and fresh. I tend to do the APC deal - uses less fresh and much quicker but each to his own. We don't really smell!

Random rewards - any time there is cause for celebration - passing 10 degrees, El Pinko reappearing, talking to a ship, whatever - we celebrate. Usually a somewhat stiffer Consultation with the good man from Cork.

And we also have Regular Rewards, the most obvious being every thousand miles knocked off the tally - a bit of a hiatus here because I switched measurement from Falmouth distance to Cape Town distance but today's the day thanks to Pete Goss and his 18 year old bottle.

Andrew and Sue - Hi

Love yez all


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0700/17th position 2518 01845 trip 130 2000 to Cape Town so a Talisker moment later perhaps.

Sorry to hear about Groupama but glad they are all safe.
We're in mini hoon mode twin poled sitting in the NW flow at the top of the low and pointing more or less at CT. Perhaps another day then into the high and we'll slow down big time. Cold enough now for a blanket at night. Been running along the same roll of squally cloud for about 24 hours.

Saw what looked like a small yellowfin tuna swimming alongside us for quite a while.

Carol G - Forgot to include thanks for book offer yesterday sorry. Got out the recliner and put it on the grassy lawn on the afterdeck but too cloudy for Leonids. Thanks and G'day to everyone else - Good propagation so will try to send this by HF.

Things you learn: Part the Umpteenth:

Baked beans ferment once you open the can. Without going into the enormously long winded and engrossing possibilities of this interesting fact (just think Blazing Saddles with fermentation..Slim Pickens on rocket fuel...Always appreciated Slim Pickens - such a nice self deprecatory name for a no bull actor) I have eaten more than a small gerzillion baked beans cold from the can with a teaspoon in the last 5 years or so but I've never managed a whole can even when conditions have been particularly adverse and peary. So - always buy your beans in half cans unless you really really like them or you have more nefarious purposes for the left overs.

We've got Kevvo set up on the back of the old barge with turning blocks and bungy cord for the tiller lines - several years of playing with it all and there don't seem to be any improvements left. Except - we have always used 6mm sheathed braided line for the tiller lines and these have always chafed in two places and they tend to jump out of the sheaves on the actuating arm when there is violent movement. This time we are using 3mm unsheathed plaited spectra and it works beautifully. Minimal chafe and because it is so skinny it doesn't jump out of the sheaves as long as the bungys are properly set. Found a roll of the stuff in Dave Carne's back office in Falmouth and thought it worth a go. Breaking load about 600 kg - easily enough for the old Kev.

The first half cup of water from the watermaker each time we use it is always brackish from the back pressure in its guts. Read the instructions! I'm sure they shows the proper set up with bypass valve etc but we haven't got room for all that stuff so fill a cup before putting the tube in the first bottle. It's taken us years to work that one out.

Salad oil, cooking oil or even yer extra virgin is great for keeping the marine version of the old one hole dunny working smoothly - if you have a can of sardines in olive oil, pour the oil into the porcelain and next time you go, you will feel the difference in the pump action. Otherwise, a tablespoon every few days keeps the pump barrel slidey.