Robin Knox-Johnston reveals his secret recipe for Pot Mess as he sits in 4th on the Velux 5 Oceans 26/2/07

Log dateMonday 26 February 2007
PositionLat 43 25S Long 050 50W
Miles to Norfolk, USA5,934 nm
Distance In 24 Hours184.9 nm
Average Speed In 24 Hours7.7 knots
Ranking4th place

The Royal Navy are certainly keeping an eye on me. Yesterday evening I detected a radar and 20 minutes later I picked up a vessel. It turned out to be HMS Dumbarton Castle. We chatted for a bit, and they had been told of my whereabouts by HMS Edinburgh. Nice to see them and even nicer to chat to their RIB crew, the Lieutenant in the RIB was on board HMS Mersey when we went to meet Ellen Macarthur at the end of her record breaking voyage a couple of years ago.

It has blown up during the night but ought to ease later. Nothing too serious, a Force 5 with gusts of 6 so far, but Saga Insurance has been moving quite well so not much sleep. It has grown noticeably warmer the last day or so and soon I shall be able to get out of polar gear.

Spent yesterday morning sorting out the Medium Reacher and getting to understand the new furler. It took four hours to get it all sorted, things like the furling line being too big so the sail was not fully out when the drum was empty, so had to find a smaller line. Then it decided on a really good twist which took two hours to sort, cost me my best screw-driver, the scab on my knuckles from mooring up in Ushuaia and elevated my blood pressure. It was then I decided the sail, which is lovely, is like some beautiful woman that knows it and has some character flaws as a result. It is a character defect in the sail that North Sails should have fixed. However that was when I decided come what may, it was going to get set and eventually it gave up, but it was a good thing I was on my own as my temper went a few times.

I have been asked the secret of Pot Mess. Well it’s simple – cut up onions and potatoes into small pieces and then add tins of what you fancy. If you have bacon cut up a couple of slices and pop them in as they help set it up. It ought to be in a pressure cooker on a boat as that saves power but also means that when it falls off the stove, which it is bound to do sometime, the contents do not get spread everywhere which is an annoying clean up job apart from losing the meal. Let it come to its first blow, switch off. Leave it half an hour and heat again till it blows again. Let the pressure subside and it is ready.

I spent a bit of time with palm and needle working on my loyal storm jib, which is showing signs of serious wear. It has done me well but I’m not sure how many more gales it can take. It is giving me plenty of sewing practice anyway. I had better not say too much about the rugby, apart from bloody well done Ireland!

Log dateSunday 25 February 2007

It is Sunday and Lent, and the question arises what to give up. The life of a single hander is so deprived anyway. If prisoners were treated like this there would be a public outcry and the crime rate would fall dramatically! So it is hard to come up with something I would miss here, and I can hardly give up sailing. So, after much thought, I have decided that for this lent I will give up mountaineering.

Finished the bacon today, the stews won’t be the same. The wind was from the north at the start of this day but is now South Westerly and easing so we have less power and a lumpy sea that will ease in a few hours, but is throwing the boat about at the moment. As the wind backed I lifted the starboard dagger board and freed up a huge clump of kelp weed, which fortunately missed the rudders as we passed on. The boat speed rose more than half a knot. We now appear to have none attached, but there are still the occasional clumps to be seen. A use for kelp needs to be found so it could be harvested and thus lessen the quantity escaping to attack yachts. It can extend to more than 40 feet and the stems are at least as thick as
ones arm but the longest we caught was about 20 feet and thinner thank

A nice group of dolphins came and swam with us for a while but there has not been much other wildlife, the birds are still rare. A full gale forecast for tonight.