With 800 miles to go to Plymouth Lia thinks of Caribbean cocktails and baby food

“May I tear off the date Mrs Ditton?” one of my mother’s class at Nacton Primary School might ask. Propped up on her desk is one of those day-by-day calendars with a date in large numbers with a proverb like “patience is a virtue” at the bottom. There is something absurdly satisfying about tearing off yesterdays date, screwing it into a tiny ball and going “aim-fire” as you watch the ball teeter on the rim and drop behind the bucket! (Thankfully tomorrow is another day). Having exposed a fresh sheet (today’s date) you peer at the latest proverb, with about as much expectation that it will change your life, as you would expect a Christmas cracker joke to make you laugh. But there is a flicker of hope that it might just read, “You’ve just won twenty thousand pounds!”.

I may not have a countdown calendar on board out of which to origami paper boats with yesterdays date. But I am living day-by-day. Patience I have learnt as I wallow in yet another ridge of high pressure, is not a virtue, while crossing the Atlantic, it is a necessity.

The best kept secret in the Caribbean Island of St Martin is a piano bar named Sopranos, near Sunset Beach. In his repertoire, the keyboardist does a rendition of Maria (from West Side Story) with great panache. Which I have enjoyed hearing over a “Dark and Stormy” (rum and ginger beer) or sipping one of those highly potent cocktails, the espresso martini. It was on the tail winds of Maria, the tropical storm that is, that I had anticipated to hear that Ellen MacArthur and Thomas Coville had begun their heated dual for the transatlantic record. Perhaps instead they have discovered the divine chocolate martin (clear liquor, yes clear) with a delicate scraping of Godiva chocolate at the bottom of the glass. These can be found served at a terrace bar opposite the Met Life building in downtown Manhattan. Certainly there must be worst places to be on standby than in New York. Maybe after Hurricane Nate they will come out to play!

“Is there any chicken in chick-peas?” was a question I heard asked in the “Big Brother” house in the first series. Understandably I couldn’t watch the second. “Does salt water taffy use salt water in its production process?” seems an equally daft question. I was hoping the box would enlighten me. But it would appear to take a New Englander, wise in the making of his homespun candy instead to explain the question, “How does salt water taffy get its name?”

Move over Dr Atkins, the transatlantic weight loss program works every time! The biggest hit of my dietary plan returning from America, you will be amused to hear has been baby food! Provisioning for thirty days (ninety meals plus snacks) where each meal must weigh nothing, be flat pack-able and be ready to eat after the simple addition of boiling water is no easy task! Processed food, including specialized freeze-dried contains an alarming high percentage of sodium. Baby food provided the solution to the missing fibrous five! The tiny pot of banana puree would make a fine adult “smoothie”.

For the OSTAR, Abraham’s Dad was dispatched to the supermarket with the directive of purchasing 120 liters of water. “What size bottles do you want?” Gray asked his son.

“Lie down on your front, on the supermarket floor. We want the largest bottle size that you can lift with one hand!” came the unexpected response. The answer arrived in 2 liter bottles to be stacked in the tunnel behind the generator (hence the lying down).

With no one to race and a sinus headache brought on by the change in temperature (I am beginning to leave the perpetually sunny southern latitudes behind) I struggled to leave the coziness of my sleeping bag for another long day at the helm. “It’s a beautiful day,” sings the U2 singer Bono, “don’t let it slip away”. For half an hour the balance of the sails piloted Shockwave along. Lia could be found, dancing on the windward float to the uplifting sound of the appropriately titled album “Saltwater” by Chicane featuring Marie Brennan.