Sunday 6 October 2013

Day 5 : Leaden Skies And A Bath

The day dawned under leaden skies. Thick clouds all over, a few fine, misty raindrops floating on the breeze.

The weather cleared later and we have been sailing all day, making good progress at a touch over six knots. Tonight the wind freshened and we are averaging around seven knots with the wind peaking at seventeen knots at the time of writing.

The sea is also up and we have a swell of about two and a half meters. The wave pattern indicates two swells from different directions. Some swells are from directly aft, going in the same direction as the boat, while the other set is downwind, which is on our port quarter.

Interesting to sit here in the dark, not knowing which way the boat will be pitching next. But he surfing is excellent. And I have seen 8.5 knots several times tonight.

The wind freshens during the early part of the night, then dies down towards sunrise. A stable weather pattern. The trade winds, no less.

I was on watch from 03h00 to 06h00, then had no duties for the whole day. I am now on watch again on the 18h00-21h00 shift. A whole day to sleep, rest, read, and in general have time for myself in daylight hours. The advantages of having four crew on board!

Fridays are also bath days at sea. The one day when you may wash in fresh water. This boat has calorifiers that work off the engine exhaust. Very comfortable if the engines had been running recently. The port engine was last to run, therefore the port side had hot water. The starboard side, where the skipper lives, had cold water only. He muttered a remark about planning the engine hours for next week.

Life aboard is quite simple, but sometimes little things make it just that touch easier. We don't use the regular grid on the stove, as it discolours and needs to be delivered as new. So we substitute a normal braai grid which we ditch at our destination. The braai grid is galvanised, which burns off quickly and then the cheap aluminium pots we use stick to the bare steel wire of the grid. This means we can get by without pot clamps, which make life a bit easier.

However, on this trip I brought my regular dinky sized kettle from le Creuset. This kettle is properly enamelled and does not stick to the wire of the grid, sliding all over the stove as the boat rolls and pitches. This meant that you had to hold the kettle in place with one hand or be very busy every now and then shifting it back to over the burner.

So we sat ourselves down and contemplated the problem. In the end we made a little wire ring just bigger than the bottom of the kettle. This was fastened to the braai grid with small home-made staples in the correct place. Now the kettle sits still and you have both hands free to carry on cooking or preparing the cups for tea or coffee. The wok is also better behaved and there is no negative side effects on the stability of the aluminium pots.

A simple solution to a nagging problem.
I finished The English Patient by Ondaatje and now am tackling Homer's Odyssey. Perhaps I should read The Wind In The Willows first, it may be lighter reading. Or perhaps I can read The Odyssey in sections. Rather like eating an elephant or climbing a mountain.

I tried my hand at a noon sight today. Proper classical navigation. Set up the sextant and keep on taking readings, starting just prior to local meridian passage. I did this and found the sun kept on rising. Then, dejected, went back to the books and instruction manuals and found that I had miscalculated by an hour.

After recalculation I was ready. But my preparation was almost fruitless, as thick clouds obscured the sun. Eventually I got one good reading, which I duly reduced and plotted. I was out by more than twenty miles compared to the ship's GPS. This due to rounding errors and coarse calculations of time to angle conversions. I shall pay more attention to seconds of time for the next noon sight. However, I suspect that my basic calculation may be in error with respect to Local Apparent Noon and Meridian Pass Time.

Some study for tomorrow.

Authored by Johan Zietsman.

Last updated on 2013-09-27.




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