Wind at last, the world’s first offshore cricket, and pizza craze sweeps Disco.
Life has stepped up a gear here on Disco. The wind is in, the sheets are eased, and spirits flying high. It is unbelievably good to be making progress, and the boat temporarily ceasing hostilities in the sense of seeing if it can fall apart quicker than we can fix it. I can sit at the nav station with a Coffee Mongers coffee in hand, watching the miles disappear behind us, and write this with a fully reinstated sense of humour about the whole sailing business.
Yesterday saw lots more rather depressing motor-sailing while the fuel line repair was watched like a hawk. It would be a tad boring to set the boat on fire at this point, having come so far. Luckily the confidence in Chief Engine Room Ferret McCann’s workmanship grew by the hour, and it was business as usual counting the normal oil drips after not too long. Henry 1, Boat 0.
I got familiar with the generator, bringing back truly fond memories of epoxying a heat exchanger back together on this exact same stretch of water several years previously. Tropical Pacific water temperatures and generator cooling systems do not go well together it seems. However, it was soon Skipper 1, Boat 0, as the shredded impeller was replaced with an intact version, and we were back in the world of power generation. The legacy of the Steve Swallow Apprenticeship lives on, another thing to thank Steve for, as well as letting me rebuild my motorbike in his garage in Perth last year!
The epic pizza that Anna produced yesterday kick started a pizza revolution, and dinner last night was an abundance of the good flat stuff, making the boat a truly happy place to be. Coupled with Spanish (or were they Basque…) pancakes for breakfast, we’re in a good place food-wise at the moment. The only thing we’re missing is Seb’s hand-operated espresso maker, which we still don’t know if he took it with him or not. The galley has been gone through like the Southampton border force go through a Routemaster bus on the way back from the Le Mans 24, but to no avail. Seb, you have to put us put of our misery mate. It’s OK if you took it; just tell us so we don’t keep hoping one day it will emerge and improve our lives by a factor of 10. Please send a carrier pigeon, message in a bottle (biodegradable of course), or some form of signal fire. If neither of those work just email Paul instead.
As we all laid back and enjoyed digesting fresh pizza, the breeze started to kick into life. We’d had to take the headsails and deep the reef the main to protect against damage to both the sails and rig, as the boat was rolling around so viciously due to the building swell and complete lack of breeze. However, with the wind coming back it was time to get some canvas airborne again. We’re running pretty reduced watches at night, as it’s the only time anyone can get any sleep, so there are often only 2 people running the deck at any given time. With one person steering this leaves only one other to do everything else, plus myself as necessary. Landon and I spent a solid hour running around getting the boat sailing again. After shaking out all the reefs, re-hoisting the genoa, trimming, re-trimming, and doing all the tidy up we were feeling pretty knackered, but also pretty damn smug about having a boat doing nearly 10kts and the engine finally off.
This progress has continued throughout the night and morning, with the phrase going round of “sail it like you stole it”, and the attitude of ‘sail it until it breaks’ in regard to the cable ties that have been stoically holding the genoa up all night and currently pulling us along at anything up to 11kts. The yankee 1 would probably be fine, but we’re on a roll, and taking all the speed we can get. Plus, it’s fun. What’s the point if it’s not fun?
Spirits are higher than they have been in days, and you can’t put a value on that. I’ve no idea exactly how much wind there actually is, as our wind instruments are still holidaying in the mid-Atlantic, where they were last seen working. I can define the quantity and angle of the wind we are currently experiencing as ‘bloody good’ though, which is all the information I need to be going on with.
Despite a good show on the foredeck the previous evening, Landon did however make another nickname earning slipup (OK, all the previous bread and tea/pasta incidents were all Landon, the games up), when he made a round of tea with saltwater. He has now retired from all galley related business citing unfair competition from ‘this boat’ and ‘life’. Notwithstanding the many hilarious moments he has furnished the crew with in the last few days, he’s been one of our fastest learners on the sailing front, and is fast gaining a reputation as one of the ‘crack helms’ on board, which is no small compliment.
In the final installment of the day, Ben lives on! Not Ben Ben, Fake Ben, or The Other Ben, but Ben the Cricket; currently moving between the port and starboard LPG lockers, just to keep us on our toes. Every night, once the sun is down, he chirps into life, and continues to chirp all night long. There are the occasional moments where someone says something he doesn’t agree with, and a sullen silence ensues until he stops sulking and strikes up his anthem again. Ben was actually sighted the other day, and officially confirms that we may currently be breaking a world record for the furthest and longest offshore a Panamanian cricket has ever sailed. Now a beloved and valuable member of the team, he is being looked after well, with both Henry’s watch and the Los Penguinos (Ty’s watch) keeping an eye on his condition and feeding him ‘Renaud Fuel’. Renaud fuel is generally marketed as Granola, but as our only Vegan aboard, Renaud consumes it in such quantity the supermarkets really need to reconsider their branding.
So from the Disco Crew, complete with Ben the Cricket, we’re off to do some more fast sailing while the conditions allow. America here we come!
Date: 7th March 2017
Position: 10°03.1N 089°16.9W
Wind: NE 4
Swell: NE 3-4ft
With the support of our partner Weather Routing Inc.