Lia Ditton sits in 2nd place in the Route du Rhum, only 208 miles behind the leader 3/11/06

I know it is day six, because six comes after five and yesterday I was eating food out of bag number five. Perhaps to safeguard any mistakes, I ought to keep a tally on the wall. Days of the week tend not to matter much either. “Not another Monday” or “I’ve got that Friday feeling” are rarely expressions I find myself using at sea. Hours of the day, however are somewhat more significant. Office numbers tend to divert to answer machine before nine am and nobody likes to receive a call asking advice-that-can-wait, in the middle of the night. So it is those mid-night hours of relative cold, darkness and solitude that I least prefer, while the world and the parts I know of it, are asleep.

Dangerous When Wetis not a Class 40 and additional water ballast was never part of the design. Last nights offering of entertainment therefore came in the form of a bucket and sponge. Alas there is something quite tedious about bailing. If Health and Safety had their way with it, it might be banned under the banner of “repetitive strain”. Bailing can continue ad infinitum. I had until last night believed that my mystery leek was not the result of a dripping saltwater impellor, a crack in the engine exhaust, miscreant salt water intake valve or associated piping. From an irritating floor covering to a worrisome slop, my half a bucket a day grew in the space of the afternoon to two buckets; query with more on the way. It was time to address the water ingress situation with some urgency. In an effort to compartmentalise, I built damns between the engine floor, the main cabin sole and the side bilges. I mopped and ran the engine, with inspection torch on max candles elasticated to my temple. The blasted water returned in seconds, crystal clear and in the same volume. I had opened the bilge piping and plugged both holes, suspecting now a returning non-return valve. The wooden plug was saturated.

While I personally did not want to gybe over this morning, the wind was beginning to back and I feared I might have to. At some point yesterday, it dawned on me that I was running with these seas, as in good luck trying to make any other course but theirs. In the trough between waves my view of sky out of the companionway hatch is eclipsed by a cascading wall of frothy white water. While to gybe may have been my early morning intention, gibing ended up being a passive activity- we were gybed, which left me scrambling into drysuit, lifejacket and tether to rectify the mess of backed sails. In the process, lucky me, I discovered that the head of the switch for the hydraulic keel pump is hanging off, which led to some serious hand-cranking on the manual override. One pair of pink safety marigolds donned later and the 100amp fuse is removed to enable some serious hardwiring of power to pump. Thanks to Alistair and Bill at Diverse Yacht Systems (Hamble) for thinking this through with me.