Date: 28th December 2016
Position: 46°32.7N 007º38.2W
Wind: NE 1-2
Swell: NE 3ft
Last nights good wind kept it up until this morning, and it was the best sailing of the trip so far. 15-20kts on the beam, and nice rolling swell on the quarter saw us make a consistent 9kts the whole way through, and was a brilliant introduction to the larger ocean swell conditions. Big smiles all round. The breeze even built to the point where we had to put a reef in – our first of the trip. The team did a flawless job of shortening the main in the dark with a fairly lively foredeck, and the helm was much more manageable for all after that.
And then, it stopped.
I should have known things were taking a downward turn when Henry stuck his head up with a slightly sheepish look to announce that the toilet was blocked. I genuinely thought he was trying to wind me up. Apparently not; the port head was actually blocked. We decided to leave it until the day shift, and make the most of the sailing, especially as Henry had spent so much of the previous day working in the engine room, he deserved some proper sailing time before getting the tools back out.
As morning arrived the wind began to lighten and we shook the reef back out to a full main. I then decided to use the relative calm to actually get into my bunk for the first time since leaving, having spent the last 48 hours dozing at the chart table when not on deck. An awesome 3 hours of real sleep later, and the noise of a boat with no wind and pumping rigging woke me up. The fun was over, and the promised calm well and truly arrived.
We’ve since then spent all afternoon playing with everything on the boat, first trying to get her moving again, and then making the most of the calm conditions to get a few things done. Disco is a heavy boat and therefore takes a bit to get moving. 5kts of true wind on the quarter most definitely doesn’t do it! Seeing as we needed the charge the batteries anyway, we dropped the headsails, snugged in the main, and cranked up the engine. Since then we’ve been doing a satisfactory 5-6kts in the right direction, and will continue like this until morning, when we can properly assess how much fuel we’re using and make a call whether we need to refuel somewhere on the Iberian peninsula to maintain anything near decent progress.
The Longest Swim is lucky enough to be partnered with Weather Routing International – a top-notch weather routing company. They will be providing us with detailed weather information and analysis throughout the Pacific expedition, and have generously extended this service to our delivery trips as well. This is obviously an invaluable resource for us to have, and also a great opportunity to get to know their forecasting and format in advance of the big expedition. Unfortunately, they can’t control the weather, and the next few days are looking pretty light, but we’ll be keeping close tabs on the situation and doing the best we can with it. They are posting their forecasts at http://www.wriwx.com/clientproduct.php?id=6795, so you can see from back home the same information we are getting and give a bit of context to our routing and progress.
Chugging along under engine meant we could have a better look at the rig tuning, and we dropped all sails to spend a good hour with the spanners and get things slightly more perfected. You may notice, all this time there has been no mention of the toilet issue… It seemed to turn into a ‘next watch problem’, which was fine, until the other, and only other, heads was also reported as blocked. Serious business now – can’t run a boat with no toilets. I’d been hoping to avoid getting involved with this directly – Skippers prerogative or something like that, but quickly decided I’d much rather have functioning heads, and it was light work for both Henry and I together to have it all back up and running. Crisis averted.
There’s a lot of shipping around as we’re right on the route between the Ushant and Finisterre TSS’s, so I’m getting to chat to lots of different ships as they call up to ask which way we’d prefer to pass each other, before they head on to a range of wild and exotic destinations around the world, at a much more efficient, but probably less fun, 15kts.
The wildlife of the day was a solitary seal. Sweet looking thing stuck its head out a bit ahead of us, got scared and hid as we went past, and then surfaced again to watch with bemusement as we continued off into the distance.
Léa has apparently been trying to feed members of the Biscay Dolphins Association peanuts, but I can only assume they don’t like nuts as they haven’t been back in a while. Waste of damn good Shnack Paks I say, but I’m still working my way through my mum’s amazing Christmas cake, so am not bothered yet.
Good evening from a noisy but well flushing (or pumping…) Disco, motoring sailing her way through Biscay.