Friday, 24 August 2012

Crossing The Atlantic - Part 1.2: Becalmed!

The watch system on Taniwha consisted of 3 hour watches with 2 people to a watch. With 5 of us on board, this meant that we had a repeating schedule of 3 hours on deck/steering, 3 hours off duty, 3 hours on deck/steering, followed by 6 hours off duty, repeated.

In the early hours of Friday August 24th, Nathan and I were on watch. The foresail, was poled out to catch as much wind as possible in the downwind direction we were sailing, and as the wind was fairly light, this sail frequently flapped about as the boat rolled with the ocean swell.

This repeated flapping eventually caused the sheet (rope) holding the sail out to wear through, and the sail fell down and flapped about uselessly. Nathan called Nick up from below, and the two of them furled the sail while I steered the boat to course.

Later in the morning, while I was on my 6-hour sleep break, the wind dropped off entirely. There we were in the middle of the ocean, idly rocking about, with not enough wind to sail, and not nearly enough diesel to get us on our way to England.

Fortunately, it was a nice sunny day, and we all took advantage of it, hanging clothes to dry, and making various attempts at washing. My attempt at a shower was as follows: I stripped, and installed myself under the front hatch, which was open. I attached a small towel to a length of string, and climbing partly out of the open hatch, I tossed the towel over the side of the boat, while holding onto the other end of the string. Retrieving the saltwater saturated towel, I then scrubbed myself all over, before repeating the process a couple of times.

A bit of castille soap smeared on one corner of the towel made for a further sense of cleanliness, and the whole process was most refreshing.

first breath of wind after the calm

The calm did not last too long - we had changed the foresail to a reaching sail, and by the time I was showered, there was enough wind to speed us along nicely.

An entry in my diary includes the following mantra for being out at sea:
(For each of the 4 repetitions of the phrase, a different point of the compass is pointed to)

Thar be nowt b'there,
Thar be nowt b'there,
Thar be nowt b'there,
Thar be nowt b'there!

"... Such is life on the ocean. Thar be nowt nowhere, and all that's to be done is to keep on going!
On setting out from St. John's, I had but an inkling of the enormity of the task ahead of us. Now we are out in the middle of it, and everything is simple. There really is nothing to be done but point the boat in the right direction, maintain whatever propellance we can, and wait."

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