L O G B O O K - by John Philp





ST HELENA CROSSING


MON 10th JAN - The weather is great again today, with tradewinds blowing at 12 knots from the south east. We catch another two fish, a spotted rock cod (we thought that was odd), and a yellow fin tuna. The sea has finally lost it’s peculiar brown colour and taken on the familiar royal blue you’d expect of an ocean four thousand metres deep. By sunset the wind dies to five knots and we motor for a while.

TUE 11th JAN - When I wake for my watch at 4.30am the wind has completely died. All four sails hang limp and lifeless... we motor on. Light is beginning to appear in the east. Daylight reveals a blanket of grey cloud and rain squalls hovering in the distance.

10am - the sea is an oily, calm blue, sails still hanging motionless and silent, the diesel motor chugging us along at 7 knots. The patchy grey sky hems us in in our own little world. There’s not a thing in sight. Are we the only life on this ocean? It’s warm though, and the Atlantic feels and looks no different to our own Pacific.

By nightfall the wind freshens to 15 knots south east and we coast along smoothly, effortlessly.

WED 12th - The wind’s stronger today - up to 25 knots at dusk, and the sea is becoming more agitated. It’s bright and sunny again, ideal sailing conditions. At night bright stars crowd the heavens, and meteors... I can’t get over how fast they bullet through the atmosphere as they burn up in a fiery mass. It’s a grand backdrop to an entertaining stage show.

THUR 13th JAN - 5.50am, Tony notices a crack in the main boom at the hydraulic boom vang plate. We quickly sheet the mainsail in and drop it to take the load off the boom. Tony discovers that the mainsail is useless until we can have the boom repaired. We roll the sail up on the boom and set the much smaller storm tri-sail in it’s place. It’s still blowing 20 knots from the south east and we’re making good speed even without the mainsail.

FRI 14th JAN - Again a sunny day and 20 knot ‘Trades’ from the south east.

SAT 15th JAN - The roller furling unit on the Genoa is jammed and we can’t roll it up nor let it out. It will be dangerous should the breeze freshen and we’re caught out with too much sail up. Someone has to go up the mast. It’s rough still and the boat is pitching all over the place so we elect to wait awhile to see if the wind backs off. Two hours later the conditions are still the same so before you can say, “Oh gee it looks pretty dicey up there”, I’m getting hauled up the main mast to fix it. There’s a lot of movement ninety feet off the deck, the mast is swaying fifteen feet either side of vertical, so I lash myself to the mast when I get to the top before I feel comfortable enough to get to work. Tony yells up at me from the deck, “Well you didn’t get to bungie jump in South Africa, so here’s your thrills for the week - and it’s free!” The yacht looks so small from this height. Each time we roll over I feel disproportionally large in relation to the boat and that I will tip it over with my weight at the end of this lengthy pivot. The view is incredible - acres and acres of heaving blue water quilted in ephemeral white caps.

SUN 16th JAN - The breeze is light today and the sea a little more sedate.

More work is needed on the main mast. This time only half way up, which isn’t so much of a chore compared to yesterday’s little mission.

Usually we will err on the side of caution when deciding on the sail configuration for the evening, in case we get a nasty squall, but the wind is so light we feel comfortable enough to set the spinnaker for the evening.

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