Back in 2007, the crew of Ty Dewi is on the home stretch of their Atlantic Crossing. After many days at sea, the crew is well into the offshore rhythm. But the recipe for happy sailing has been missing a couple of important ingredients – the wind has faded away and they are on the last few bottles of European wine…
December 2nd, 2007. 21:30UTC 02/12/07 16’39N 054’52W Wind SE3
It’s been a bit frustrating last night and today, after a superb day yesterday; top speed all day and making 75 miles in 12 hours – that would be a 150 mile day. Then the wind disappeared. A slapping, flapping, drifting night and engine on at 6am, so by 9am we’d done our 117 miles in the 24 hours, but the engine stayed on for 10 hours today and we’ve only just turned it off. Coupled with a pretty grey and occasionally rainy day, it’s been fairly subdued on board and I’ve spent most of the day with my nose in my book.
The wind is back at last, fairly steady right now, but who knows. The forecast is unhelpfully vague, light-ish airs all the way through Wednesday when we would hope to arrive. I sense we may burn some more diesel and read a few more books before then.
But all’s well. Cocktails recently have been: Final Ginger Peach (rum, vodka, peach juice, ginger), and Antiguan Honey (rum, pineapple juice and chunks, honey, white wine)
December 3rd, 2007. 22:00UTC 03/12/07 16’45N 056’32W Wind Variable
It’s been another quiet and windless day. The sun has shone brightly and the sky is full of small clouds; in fact it has been a quite gorgeous day if we weren’t wanting to go sailing. To add insult to that particular injury, the forecast predicts that it will stay light until Wednesday night, then a 15-20 knot breeze will come in from the north east on Thursday. Perfect for us if we weren’t expecting to drop anchor at exactly that time.
The crew, sensing my frustration, managed to liven up the day considerably by blocking the loo. When the pump didn’t work, it wasn’t because the vandals had taken the handle, but because one of them had tried to dispose of a cleaning wipe (“but it says flushable on the packet, skipper”) Now the rule is, he who blocks it fixes it, so this crew member soon had the whole pipework assembly in pieces, and we narrowed down the blockage to just before the pipe goes through the hull. This is not a bit that is easily reached from inside.
The obvious solution, really, was to take a wire or thin pipe and prod the blockage back up the pipe from the outside. Easily said, but that is 6 inches below the waterline. However, at least the water is warm, so we stopped the boat, put out the bathing ladder and I took a swim. Despite a good ten minutes pushing a piece of wire into the outlet, as the boat rocked and rolled above me, we weren’t much further along. This needed more thought. In a moment of inspiration, I found the air pump for inflating the dinghy. Opening a porthole, we could operate the pump from inside the boat and the hose would reach to the outlet. Swimming again, I held the hose in the toilet outlet, whilst pressure was applied. It worked! A resolutely intact cleaning wipe, plus an amount of unpleasant debris, popped back out of the pipe. Fortunately, the crew weren’t looking down said pipe at the time, although that might have been a deserving reward for those who had blocked it in the first place…
That done, we put the engine back on, set the autopilot, cleaned up and had a much needed beer.
This evening, nature treated us to a sunset of indescribable beauty. The range and intensity of colour, changing every minute, defies words and I suspect even the pictures will not do it justice. A real treat and something unique to voyages like this. The photographers were in seventh heaven.
We made 106 miles yesterday, and expect to do about the same today. We motor for about 80 miles then have quiet time and let the boat ghost along at 2-3 knots at best. Less than 300 miles to Antigua.
December 5th, 2007. 21:30UTC 05/12/07 17’04N 60’27W Wind ENE3
If you want to cheer up this crew, the recipe is simple. Turn off the engine and reveal the existence of a reserve wine supply. We did both last night, and the difference in crew morale is remarkable.
At dinner time, I revealed that, like an aircraft with reserve fuel tanks, we had a reserve of three bottles of wine. To resounding cheers, we opened the Wolf Blass Cab-Sauvignon and thoroughly enjoyed our dinner. A couple of hours later, Dad realized that we had enough breeze to sail, so we cut the engine and unfurled the jib. The wind held through the night, and by daybreak we were only 120 miles from Antigua. We’ve been able to continue sailing during perhaps one of the best days of the trip, so far, perfect wind, not rolling much, beautiful sunshine and the knowledge that we’ll be in harbour tomorrow.
The forecast has the wind strengthening overnight, so we’ll go a bit faster and probably arrive outside English Harbour at daybreak. We’ll wait until the light is good before entering the anchorage; it would be a shame to hurry in during darkness and mess up our arrival after 2750 miles of travel!
This beautiful day, and being under sail, has made for a much happier crew. We have spent the day chatting, doing maintenance tasks, making lists for things to attend to once in harbour, and generally enjoying life. Tonight’s cocktail, the ‘Leading lights’ refers to the lights that bring a ship home safe into harbour, and was expresso, evaporated milk, Baileys and vodka.
There’s a bottle of Beaujolais in the locker for tonight, and a small Christmas pudding for dessert. It being December and we’ve not missed the Christmas hype one little bit, but perhaps we can allow ourselves a taste of the forthcoming season.
December 6th, 2007 12:00UTC 06/12/07 17’00N 61’46W
At anchor in English Harbour, Antigua. 2772 miles sailed.