Calms, computers, food and .... Tumblebeard?

Date: 4.06.03 UTC: 1300 Pstn: N 32.38, W 046.24 Track: 082 Wind: Zilch Wx: Sun Cloud: 5% Bar:1022 Air temp: 28C Sea temp: 26.6C 24hr run: 119 Current SOG: 5.2kn (Motoring)

Firefly Log day 9: Well here we are slap bang in the middle of the Azores high, without a breath of wind, 960nm from our destination, Horta. We started motoring for the first time at 0730 yesterday, and haven’t stopped since. We only have enough fuel for four days sailing at the most, so we’ll probably continue today, and then sit it out for a while hoping the wind will return.

Meanwhile, the cooking competition gets better and better. A lunchtime pepperoni, cheese, tuna, anchovy and pepper pizza soon surpassed yesterday’s freshly baked breakfast toast and scrambled egg, but, still not satisfied that he had nutritionally overwhelmed the crew, skipper decided to top off his day’s culinary skills with a delightful little pasta Carbonara. Sadly it wasn’t a wine day – those occurring at three-day intervals only – but it was almost as good washed down with blackcurrant cordial.

Now, this is not one for the faint-hearted, or beardophobic. We three rather hirsute gents have discovered a new boating phenomenon – Tumblebeard. It lives in the cockpit gulleys and rolls continuously back and forth with the motion of the boat, collecting more and more stray hair, and increasing in size like a snowball rolling downhill. Before you think we are obviously letting ourselves go here, I’d like to explain the positive element of this strange quirk of nature.

Rather than throw these curious little creatures overboard, they are actually encouraged to breed, for they are surely carrying out an incredible act of self cleaning – rather like in tropical countries where the presence of Geckos (small, wall hanging lizards) are encouraged indoors in order to control the mosquito population. Enough!

Now that we have finally consumed all that is fresh on board, bar a few sprouting spuds, an onion and the pretty little bacteria patch behind the cooker, we shall be fishing again. B3 wouldn’t let us start yesterday – purportedly so that our supper would be as fresh as possible – but B’s 1 & 2 both know it’s secretly because he befriended a baby yellow-fin Tuna yesterday that insisted on leaping along in our bow wave and imitating a Dolphin. Ross thought there was a danger of ending up with Mum on our dinner plates and the kiddies running after us looking for her and giving him pleading looks, which would have been too much to bear for such a sensitive chap.

In an act of half boredom, half lunacy, I decided yesterday to try to interface Stew’s laptop with Iridium, so that he might continue this sorry saga all the way to Lymington, after I have jumped ship in Horta. Well, having prided myself with reducing the loading, installing and ‘getting it to work properly’ time for the Iridium data package down to just 3-4 hours recently, a new challenge was put in my way. It’s called a Serial to USB port converter. For those of a less techno background – it would appear that modern laptops are supplied today without Serial (aka RS232) ports, in favour of several, much faster USB ports. Well, this is all well and good if every bit of hardware you own has a USB connector – but we all know this is not the case, don’t we? So the nice PC dealer supplies you with a converter, plus more software, which is supposed to make it all happen – albeit at extra expense and hassle to the customer. Well I’ve got news for you – it doesn’t. Well, certainly not where Iridium is concerned anyway. Miraculously, Windows XP recognises it, and even tells you it is functioning OK – but it doesn’t. The Iridium software seems to refuse to co-operate with this bit of ‘plug & play’ hardware, and totally ignores the phone on the end of it! Great stuff technology init? Still, it passes the time whilst we drift vaguely in the direction of our intended destination.

Today’s good news – due to our progress in a generally eastwards direction, it will be time to move local beer o’clock forward an hour at 1100, making it a whole hour less wait until our single 275ml ration of cold beer.