It must have been early, near the start of this last leg from Cape Town to Hobart. I remember I was sitting on the leeward cockpit seat with my feet on the edge of the opposite seat to brace myself against the roll of the boat. I was probably reading one of the numerous "whodunits" we have on board, the sun was out, I had my shorts on. At the end of a reading pause, for that read, "vacant nap", I returned to the real world. With chin resting on chest, the first thing I noticed was this wrinkled skin hanging beneath what used to be a calf muscle. Lazily gazing at this it reminded me of a deflated party balloon you might notice hanging in a corner of the room a month or so after the function. I leaned down and pinched it, there was no meat there. The muscle had shrunk remarkably, alarmed,I tried the other leg, same thing you could get a 2 inch pinch of loose skin.
Now, was this just part of the fact that the legs havn't been used much for some months or is it a general atrophy of the body as you age, I'm hoping for the former. There has not been as much work to do on this trip. With the new headsail furler we don't even have to go forward to change sails, nor forward to get a new sail, nor forward again to put the old one back in the bin. Lugging heavy wet sails around, bracing the knees against the pulpit in the bow while using two hands to haul a flogging sail down after 20 minutes sleep in your off watch, then somehow managing to get the thing bagged while waves are crashing over the deck and getting safely back to the cockpit must have used up a fair slice of energy.
All of this sweaty nonsense has been removed by the sail furling gear. The procedure now is; "Bugger, the wind's up I'd better get some sail off"; move to the upright position (2 cals); release sheet (1 cal); pull on furler string (3 cals); readjust the headsail sheet (2 cals). Total 8 calories, I would think this would be a total gain of about 250 calories for the average sail change so now multiply this by the number of sail changes on the Falmouth-Hobart leg of the last trip say 400, I think this would equate to a positive gain of about 100,000 calories for this trip. If you don't exercise as much, you eat less and I think we must have a large excess in the food stores now.
About a week ago now, there was a ciick, the latch on the barn door was released. A creak from the rusty hinge, a thin shaft of sunlight splashed on the floor. A sniff of fresh hay and a smell of oats, flushed through the small opening and I could sense that the Berri had a new spring in her step, she knew something. With a steady breeze of10-15 kts on the quarter and her nose pointing directly at South East Cape she could smell her southern home and was romping along at 4-6 kts. Its been a long campaign and the old war horse, hasn't let us down at any stage. I'll quote a saying used by an old Kiwi friend of mine, "any old horse can fart on the way to work, its a good one that can fart on the way home", Berrimilla is one.
I had a lean over the port quarter this morning and with my head touching the odd wave, I could see under the transom, all looked good, no sign of barnacles and just a small amount of weed on the aft end of the rudder. It was a good move hauling the boat out, leaving it in the slings while we scraped the barnacles off. That was in Cape Town just before Christmas, it looks like nothing has jumped on for a ride since then.
So far nothing has broken, a small sheet bag is all that has been lost overboard and that only when a big wave broke over the stern during a storm. On the first trip the liferaft was lost overboard during a very bad storm in the South Atlantic, just off Montivideo(the winds at the time peaked at 86 kts). We also broke our port lower shroud on the mast and the spreader bases were later found to be fractured. Now, Alex has just reminded me, on the North West Passage and Atlantic section of this voyage, he trashed an engine and a couple of gearboxes, that's a good effort for such a young chap.
The beer has been rationed but the G&T supplies are holding up well, not long to go now. Cheers Pete.