Firefly, 3 December 2001: Today I have made a new cockpit light out of an old baseball hat, wire coathanger (what else) and the guts from an old 12 Volt lamp. I have been mocked mercilessly for this but we’ll see how it looks later
Firefly, 3 December 2001
21° 16 N 36° 46 W
Distance to St Lucia 1,447 nm
So far a much better sailing day today and as the sea is down a lot, about 2m, easier sailing too. We are currently sailing at 7-8 knots under full sail in 16-20 knots of breeze and Firefly is loving it.
We’re still well north and intend to stay here at least for the next 24 hours as the winds are forecast to be 5-10 knots stronger than a few degrees south. With the wind in the ENE we are sailing at about 20 degrees above the course to St Lucia and if, as forecast, it comes into the east then we’ll have to gybe south. Maybe, one day, we’ll find the real Trades rather than these fluctuating Azores High breezes.
Our formal ‘day’ begins with happy hour which is a moveable feast starting at any time between 1700 and 1800 depending (this is the theory anyway) on where we are in a time zone. We are putting our watches back an hour for every 15 degrees of longitude so are currently GMT 2 hours. After happy hour we have dinner, eaten in the dark as sundown is around 1800.
Today I have made a new cockpit light out of an old baseball hat, wire coathanger (what else) and the guts from an old 12 Volt lamp. I have been mocked mercilessly for this but we’ll see how it looks later.
We are now 50 miles short of the half way point which at the present rate of progress we’ll reach at midnight GMT tonight.
At this point, with some trepidation, I’ll hand you over to Duncan who will let you have his view on just how things are going.
As the loyal crew, Stuart and myself are a remarkably similar brace of itinerants who are blending together like of school chums, doing our part on board like any well-oiled team might be expected to. Firefly, though undoubtedly an outstanding thoroughbred in the performance department, appears to have a voracious appetite for human sticky-out bits, with any one of her myriad uphauls, downhauls, outhauls, sheets, preventers, boom brakes, 16 rope clutches and 23 turning blocks always on the lookout for an opportunity to entrap the unwary.
So far the resultant damage has been limited to steaming palms and the semi-permanent removal of our fingerprint IDs, but it remains essential for us to retain a state of total mental alertness at all times. Hoyte hate is now a commonly bandied term among the rebellious crew who are forced to go forward of the mast using an SAS-type belly crawl manoeuvre.
Despite this the trip has been a great success so far, although endless spilt coffee caused by the unrelenting seas has been the penalty for continuing fair winds. The balmy, consistent Trade Winds we were promised have yet to materialise and night watches still require mugs of Cup-a-soup and a liberal dose of fleecy attire. The days are slowly warming though and we hopefully we should soon be able to make a tack towards our ultimate destination, St Lucia, with the help of a nudging sea and an obliging current.
Reaching our halfway point today, the crew are at last able to retire to their bunks dreaming of chilled rum punches taken in sleepy bars of the palm-fringed islands of the Caribbean as they stuff tissues into their ears to muffle the Skipper’s nightly nasal antics. Time to go and risk another bunch of digits taking in a reef in what now appears to have developed into another solid, 24-knot blow.