While Robin Knox-Johnston contemplates his fuel consumption, his toenail walks the plank 11/12/06

DateMonday 11 December 2006
PositionLatitude 47 16.2 S, Longitude 045 23.8 E
Miles To Fremantle3,299 nm
Average Speed in 24 Hours10.64 knots
Distance in 24 Hours255.3 nm

Another miserable day and night only compensated for by some progress in the right direction. Saw the sun briefly so glad I am not dependent on the sextant for navigation. It’s really quite chilly now and we have not had rain for a few days, just snow and hail. I am avoiding using the cabin heater to save diesel. Fortunately I do have some special three-layer Henri Lloyd clothing which is keeping me remarkably warm and dry. Also I have some good curries in my stores. Boil in the bag chicken tikki masala, and freeze-dried just a chicken curry. The tikki masala is the warmer, but I have found that by adding a little lime pickle to the chicken curry it becomes very nice indeed. Iska assur bohud gulabi hai, or, it is a very rosy feeling!

Today we are experiencing a westerly gale. Yesterday there was a left over northerly sea, which made things very uncomfortable and wet in the cockpit as waves kept coming inboard. I don’t mind that but I do try to avoid the boat slamming too much as it jerks the rig which cannot do it any good. I cannot adjust the tension on this rig, except the runners, it is a shore job, or a very calm day with crew job, hence my desire not to create a situation where adjustment might be necessary.

This leg is turning into a more than 12,000 mile leg, which is the equivalent of 3-4 years cruising for the average boat and you would not go 3-4 years without maintenance. The weather means I cannot get on with the mainsail repairs for the moment so still only a fully reefed mainsail available. A stanchion has broken, probably in one of this weekend’s foul squalls. It is not life threatening, just another job for Fremantle.

One of the problems we have on a long voyage is getting the supplies right. No one wants to take unnecessary weight as it slows the boat down, but running out of something can cause a much greater delay. This can become a nightmare when there are serious delays, as on this leg when I am running at least two weeks late. Having the right supplies is as much a part of long distance ocean racing as getting the sail trim right, equally vital. If we get it wrong we either have to divert or do without. You can do without some things, I can do without coffee, or whisky, but I cannot do without fuel for the generator for example and it was up to me to make sure I had enough. The problem was this is a new Volvo engine and I am still unsure of its usage rate. I took 55 gallons of diesel on the basis of a gallon a day with an allowance in case. I have been at sea 44 days and reckon I have 15 to go from today so its a question as to whether my allowance was enough. It is as close as that. Kergeulen can provide 80 litres if necessary, I imagine they only get supplied once or twice a year so are naturally reluctant to part with any. This would give enough to be safe for me. But do I need it? The time taken to divert is secondary to the need for sufficient fuel, and of course, quite rightly, adds to the time taken to race this leg. I shall leave it a day or two more to decide what to do. The Kerguelens are still some 30 degrees of longitude away, which is 5-6 days at the present rate of progress and may be longer once this wind eases whilst I work on the mainsail.

I have managed to remove most of the damaged toenail. It was nearly off, and that is, of course, when it is going to catch in a sock. So out came the wire cutters and I have snipped away to reduce it to a little bit that seems stuck on OK. It all looks very healthy. I expect it will take 6-9 months to regrow so that means I shall have to forego my running training for a while! Bother!