Guy Hoare has his prayers answered aboard ARC yacht Panulirus 15/12/06

Log dateThursday 14 December

In an increasingly secular society, it has become intellectually fashionable to adopt the argument that religious observance is a quaint but ultimately futile relic of the superstitions of our primitive past. I have recently garnered empirical evidence with which to challenge this contemporary orthodoxy: yesterday, with winds languishing around 1.5 knots, I made a solemn pledge – an internalised prayer, if you like – to abstain from eating any more Werther’s Originals for a twenty-four hour period. In return for my fast, I asked the gods of the winds to send us more favourable breezes. My prayers (and accompanying observances) have indeed this morning been answered.

Grateful though I am, I am nonetheless enlightened enough to refrain from any attempt to build an all-encompassing moral framework and theology around Gustav Nebel’s humble German toffee. This is where many religions in the past seem to have erred. My observations I shall limit to the following:

Firstly, it makes sense to ask for something suitably vague if one wishes to have one’s prayers answered. Note that I did not make a specific request for winds of Force 5-6 picking up within 24 hours and lasting continuously until I had reached St Lucia. I merely – and modestly – asked for more favourable breezes.

Secondly, I would recommend an easy sacrifice, and, most importantly, a one-off sacrifice. Giving up Werther’s Originals forever would be ridiculous and even giving them up every Tuesday would quickly become tiresome. Giving them up yesterday however, was simple enough, not least as I had over-indulged shortly beforehand during our afternoon viewing of Zulu Dawn.

I am now full of the born-again joy of the freshly converted, we are back on track and under sail, and, most importantly of all, I still have four toffees left to last me the rest of the week.