06 October 2011
That''s it! Game over. I'm not playing any longer. All the bread I bought in Cape Verde has gone mouldy and life without bread is pretty miserable. At the moment I'm cutting off the grey crusts and toasting the inner bits, but the mould is advancing to the core of the loaf before my eyes; and anyway, with the cabin temperature never dipping below 80, even at night, the last thing I need is a nice, hot grill roaring away. So spirits should be low this morning but theyr'e not - we've made fantastic progress this last 24 hours and I sail on with renewed faith that I might actually see Brazil this side of Christmas. I'm 400 miles south of Cape Verde which has, so far, given an average day's run of an uninspiring 77 miles. I had two good days to start with, the NE trades persisting. Then, about eight o'clock one night, things changed. Sheet lighting filled the sky and the wind filled in, never above force 5 but from all directions. Rain fell, though not heavy, and was much appreciated as it got the caked salt from the decks. I took the obligatory outdoor shower while it lasted and it was refreshingly cool.These conditions persisted most of the night and were followed by a day of slopping along at 2/3knots in fluky winds. The next night it rained for several hours followed by a remarkable clearance yesterday morning to blue sky and crystal clear visibily ( I'm assuming because there's no actually anything to focus on). But most remarkable was the change in the sky from a vista of wild, towering, dark cumulonimbus, with sheet lighting at night and Wagnerian in the dusk, to those fluffy, friendly cotton wool balls so characteristic of a trade wind sky. So, I am cautiously daring to wonder if that was my taste of the doldrums and they're now behind me. I have read various accounts: some get through them in 24 hours, others in 5 days. My fingers are tightly crossed. Got caught out in the galley the other night. On an extended passage I generally cook up a feast in the pressure cooker, enough to last two nights. This I did with a bit of salami bought in Mindelo (which tasted like dead dog) and some veg, etc. The first night it was quite tasty, but when I opened it on the second day it had turned to a mass of mould. It would be quite easy to turn rotten yourself, out here. I took it as a warning. Cheese sandwich with the last of the bread for lunch. 550 miles to the equator which, like everyone who has done this passage I plan to cross at 25W. In the end it always seems to be nearer 28. We'll see.
Final thought:I am writing this on my son's old Apple Powerbook G4 and thinking, with gratitude, of the late Steve Jobs.