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Beltana II - Day 21 and all is well.....the bell tolls

Last night was another great run from a speed and distance point of view. We made 188NM in the westerly direction (hopefully we did not do too many northerly or southerly slips – there was one just before nightfall when we re-attached the boom topping lift that had come loose – the shackle had come out even after being nipped up tight with pliers. Never fear Beltana has a spare, and this time we zip tied both shackles so that it will not happen again – always learning!)

Last night we had a special from the O’Grady kitchen – well – cottage Bolognese pie sort of thing – very yummy and very filling! Just great – Paul has no trouble working in the galley while the yacht pitches and heaves – some of us (read  me) are heartily sick of the rocking and rolling associated with the wind directly behind us and the gullwing sails – roll to the left, then roll to the right, roll back to the left and then broach a bit to the right, catch the broach with the wheel pulling hard left (not too hard as you will go too far), then correct a bit to the right then back to the left and then back to the right – yes you gut the picture – and we do this for 12 straight hours in the dark with the waves coming behind us to catch us unawares. Yes the auto pilot is tripping out still when the motor is not running so during the night we steer her all the way.

To share what a typical night is like here is what last night looked like rosters and all. Pre-dinner drinks started about 6pm – John and Jono had a scotch (not a particularly good one, a Grants, but the Johnny Walker Double Black is long gone), and Graham and Paul  had a rum and dry ginger ale – last night Johnny stuck with the water. Dinner went into the oven, the preparation having been achieved one day prior. Dinner was served a bit early last night with the table set properly as usual, though the salt and pepper grinders never stay in one place with all this rocking and rolling. New place mats tonight (thanks Anna) as the last set were rather grimy.

Ran the generator for a while for some battery juice, but also so we could run the autopilot for dinner – much more social that eating in rounds. Cleaned the plates away (my job as Dish Mole – as he who does not cook does the dishes), and then Johnny went to town with desert – yes it too was pre-prepared earlier in the day and was put back in the oven to warm up again (THE OVEN IS GOING GANGBUSTERS BY THE WAY) and Johnny served a great Apple Crumble – and crumble it did, but there was not a skeric left on the plate it was one of his best. Dishwashing (in salt water – another of our water conservation initiatives – you see us miners are very green and environmentally conscious – we also like to have fresh water to drink left over for Day 25+ if we are still at sea) was completed by Jono and Graham last tonight and damn fine job it was too.

Last night Jono and Johnny went to bed pretty early as they had the middle watches to wake up for, Paul and others chated on for a while until the formal watch period started at 9PM with John Casson up for his 4 hour shift, and Paul doing only 2 hours to be followed by another 2 hours early next morning.  Paul woke Johnny at 11Pm, and Johnny started his 4 hour watch, first two hours with JVC, and then John woke Jono at 1AM for the start of his 4 hour watch.  Some people half sleep on deck while the other helms, some people talk the night away.

Last night we had the moon with us until about 3AM which was great – it was 3/4 and lit up the sky and the seas around us – our heading was really directly in to setting moon which lit a great pathway to follow. Graham came up at 3AM and Johnny hit the sack, and the night went dark with no moon and even a few dark clouds around and it was so much harder to steer a straight course (well the skipper finds it hard anyway). JR went to bed about 5AM when Paul raised himself from the depths of sleep for the last 2 hours of the formal shift.  At the moment this shift goes on for a while – JR was first back up to relieve the helm somewhat at 10 to 8 this morning, after a quick wake up wash at the bow, then Paul launched into a frenzy of whipping ragged ends of mooring lines, Graham prepared breakfast of muesli pear and yogurt for those up and awake, and Beltana kept ploughing on down wave after wave after wave after wave...........................

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