Reports 28 January
28 January - Headwind, no wind and Laundry the old seafarer's way.
Audio Clip courtesy Trigone/VendeeGlobe
28 January - Blog 23 - Becalmed.
It is eerily quiet on the boat as I write. It is never silent at sea, there is always the wind, the waves lapping and the buzz of the autopilot, but now, when the pilot stops for a few seconds or if you stand at the front where you are too far away to hear it there is only deafening silence..........there is not even any swell to slat the sails back and forth. The sea is like glass, and the sun is so bright you can't look to the horizon because of the glare.
These conditions are not condusive to happy sailing, particularly if you are racing, but if you take the time to look a whole other world opens up. The water is the most indescribable blue with the sun directly overhead, and it illuminates the top few metres very well. If you look over the side you can see millions of small creatures, mainly simple animals, worms and creatures like free swimming (or drifting!) coral polyps, with bodies about an inch long and then inch long tentacles. They pass by in their millions, and at night when the stars are out in all their glory as we near the equator, they put on their own lightshow to match. If the boat is stopped, they just flash all around you, and if you are moving, they flash furiously as they are churned up by the wake.
When it is as flat as it is now, you also become aware of all the jellyfish that are around - hundreds of them, mainly small Portugese Man-O-War, but other kinds with small sails too, which puts me off swimming I can tell you! Today though I had a treat, as we trundled along at about two knots, I looked up and saw something floating which I first thought was a wooden box, then I thought it was a dead animal, but it turned out to be a turtle! It was very near the boat, about as big as a dustbin lid, with a beard of red slimy looking weed around its shell. The top of its shell was clear of weed however, and brown but whitened with salt as it basked in the sun, raising its flippers out of the water to warm them too. It raised it's head to look at us as we went by, and then was gone. Magic!
When I looked over the back of the boat earlier when we were actually moving, I saw what I thought was some fishing line around one of the rudders, and not wanting it to leave it there to finish up killing some poor creature I grabbed the boathook and fished it off to put it in the bin, but it wouldn't come free - it was very strong. When it did come and I dragged it aboard it turned out not to be fishing line, but the tentacle of a Portugese Man-O-War, about five feet long! I threw it back and hurriedly washed my hands!
I have these two slightly potty birds as well; they fly infront of the boat for about quarter of a mile, land near each other and wait. As the boat goes past, they either move out of the way if they are about to get run down, or just watch it go past. When they are a quarter of mile behind they repeat the procedure, and have been doing so since yesterday. They are fairly sizeable, brown with back eyes and beaks, but white markings on their heads which look like glasses frames! They don't want my leftover porridge scrapings, so I don't know what they are playing at, but we are all quite used to each other now, and I can get within two feet of them!
I have been doing lots of mending the boat and a bit of washing of things (much to Kim's amusement) and myself, so I am all ready now for the next step and onto the Doldrums proper. Tonight the wind should fill in I hope and we'll be off - wish me luck! Oh mabe this is it now, we're moving............