21 December 2007 | 12,5 Deg N; 59,75 Deg W
Shaun and Shaheda
Well it was bound to happen, we were going to run out of diesel sooner or later. We are about 12 hours from St. Lucia Island as I write this. It is our plan to take on the much needed diesel as well as fresh water here. Due to our batteries not maintaining their charge and the extended period we spent in Doldrums with no wind we had to run the engines far longer than expected. So it will need a minor service whilst we in St. Lucia, this involves siphoning the old oil out, replacing it along with some new filters and we are on our way. It is our plan to start the preparations on the boat for hand over when we get to Tortola. We will start to remove all the protective coverings and giving the boat a spit and polish inside, leaving the outside once we are in Tortola. It is amazing how marine grade stainless steel rust out at sea, yes rust!
We have had some really bad rain squalls as well as two bad storms over the past 2 days. This brings along high speed winds and big seas. For the most we have handled them okay but I do think that it affects the morale of some. I am just pleased that we got wind no matter that it came from a storm as the nothingness in the Doldrums really took it's toll on me. The skies have cleared today but the sea is still very choppy tossing the boat around quite a bit however it seems to have no effect on anyone as I think we are all desperate to see land. In this "Desert with it's back on the ground" (line from an Eagles song I think) you really feel isolated. Even the spotting of a ship is relished by all as it signifies some contact with the outside world. Speaking of seeing ships, John and I are tied for 1st place with 12 ships each. Shaheda is 3rd with 7 ships. Shaheda does not have the most ships on the board but in my opinion she has seen the most significant ships. By significant I mean they could have spelt disaster for us had they gone undetected. The first was her jackpot of four ships in one go. These were the fishing boats off the Brazil coast. We may not have hit the boats but we had a real risk of running into fishing lines in the dark. The last one was a few nights ago. Shaheda came to wake me to ask if I could help her identify the ships light. At first I thought is was a stern (back) light as I could only see one bright light. I kept the binoculars focused on it and two minutes later realised it was in fact two lights, one directly above the other. This meant that this ship was heading straight at us. I tried to call the ship's watch on the radio but there was no reply, mainly because I had the radio on the wrong frequency (still don't know how this happened). We thought that since our lights are relatively low we needed to create extra light for the ship to see us. Shaheda flashed the deck light which lights up the white sail quite dramatically. Still no response from the ship just bearing down on us. Bear in mind that the horizon is only about 5 miles in good visibility and these ships approach you at about 20knots (20 miles per hour) plus the 7 knots we are doing. This leaves little time to make a decision when the approaching vessel is not complying with the rules. I could briefly see the ships starboard light and took the decision to steer to port, contary to the Collision Regulations but I had to make a common sense decision at the time. I asked Shaheda to wake John who came on board. John stood by to make sure all ends well as the ship passed within meters of us. I could see nobody at the bridge as the ship continued by and disappeared into the night.
We made our final time shift on board, we drop one hour for every 15 degrees of longitude we traverse, so we are now 4 hours behind GMT and 6 hours behind Cape Town. Not much has been happening on board apart from Murphy being extremely busy. We had one of the mainsail stacked pulleys rip out of the anchor point. One of them burst and the pieces went flying at high speed overboard narrowly missing John's eye. This happened during the dark hours so an attempted repair was delayed till first light. As usual John Mc Guyver Titterton jury rigged something with some rope and a spare pulley and all seems well again. I really marvel at the ideas John comes up with to make all the repairs and adjustments we require, all of this with limited tools and equipment. I suppose that is what experience does.
We are hoping to flush out something during the clean up, that is if we are not too late. Before I go into the detail of this one I have to relate a story to paint a picture for you. - A beautiful, young, nubile, blonde was once discovered hiding in the farthest lockers on a boat. The crewman who found her asked what she was doing sitting huddled up in the locker and she said that she was a stow-away. The crewman agreed that he would tell no one and would provide her with her daily meals in exchange for conjugal favours. She gladly agreed to this and was almost pleased to have been discovered by such a nice guy as she was expecting to be sent to prison if discovered. Some 3 weeks later she was once again detected by an elderly crewman, who asked her again what she was doing, she confessed to being a stow-away. "A stow-away" chuckled the old man, "You can't stow-away on the Harbour Tour Ferry you silly girl!" Now why did I tell you this story, well we have noticed that certain food stuffs that we were sure was on board could not be found, I remind you of the frozen spinach we could not find for Terry to make his fish florentine and there are other examples. Furthermore we noticed that Terry does not want to throw any food over board and promises to eat it for breakfast the next morning. According to our estimations had he been eating all the food he said he would he should have been twice his size already. We are now suspecting that he is in fact harbouring a stow-away. I will be monitoring this boat closely when we get to St. Lucia to see who gets off and once we start the clean up I am sure we are going to flush out a stow-away. I will keep you posted on this one.
Regards from all aboard.