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Betelgeuse - BETELGEUSE DIARY Sunday 27th

Aforesaid scantily clad, black gloved figure (RICHARD OF COURSE) emerged from the heads with the shower water pump magically slurping water again, the man is a wizard! We awoke washed and clean to the smell of baking rolls and sizzling bacon and eggs! Our first hot breakfast and my what a delight it was. Fresh coffee flowed and spirits were high!

Storm system spotted moving a little further south than usual for the time of year 6-8days out so a re-think of the plan ensued and the de-rigging, gybing and re-setting of the plethora of canvas began. We’ll er on the side of caution and take a more southerly track to avoid the lull south of the low. Should see some more significant swell from the NW in the next few days to spice things up a little/further disrupt occasional deep, occasional no sleep.

NO FISH! Richard, Will and Pete have been juggling rods, sinkers, spinners and lure combinations with seemingly no difference whatsoever in end result: a distinct lack of nibbles. Anything we attach just skips along the surface. We’ve tried to get Jonnie to slow down but he’s not biting on that one either, despite insisting it isn’t a race. Perhaps the Mahi Mahi glance at the somewhat weathered lures skipping disjointedly just below or along the surface and just think it is too easy/pathetic a target. We saw a wonderful ‘boobie hunt’ taking place off the port beam. It circled the boat lazily then cranked in to dive bomb mode, plummeting towards the surface, at the last second pulling up to skim the wave tops just as a flying fish took off in front of it. What ensued was a 20metre long ‘dog fight’ with fighter pilot fish and bird a metre apart and darting around wave tops and following the troughs with tight evasive/aggressive action. I lost sight of them just as they met. I’d imagine the flying fish was gobbled by a tuna just as the boobie took a snap at it. Predators above, predators below, we’re all happy to be relatively near the top of the food chain…

Haven’t seen dolphins for a few days and wildlife has been relatively quiet apart from the odd lonely petrel, boobie or on one occasion, what we think was either a Catesby’s Tropicbird or a Red Billed Tropicbird with a beautiful exaggerated long thin tail. All take passing interest in the boat and sail-changing crew and hang around for just long enough for the bird book to be grabbed and several conflicting opinions voiced before vanishing amongst the wave tops.

Richard brought out the ocean sampling kit we picked up from SeaLabs in Las Palmas, water temperature 25 degrees C… Ocean acidity, alkalinity and salinity measured and recorded with location and time. 5litres of sea water filtered for microplastics. Resulting filter looked spotless except for what looked suspiciously like a pubic hair. Must have some strange seaweed round these parts…

Beautiful sailing with generally 15-18kt following winds, often a little stronger through the evening when things can feel a little spicey with no reference points and largely instrument flying for a while. Pete feels at home here. Winds often easing a little towards dawn. Sunshine galore.

‘Send Word for Hornblower’, ‘See here Buckley’, ‘Sir, if I may be so brazen as to suggest…’, ‘Pull handsomely on the blocks’ (handsomely meaning slowly in old nautical speak), echo up through the companionway from Peter, working his way through Hornblower’s early career. Heavenly food continues with salads and stews and I’ve finally clocked I can get a more substantial drink in the evening by following suit with wine rather than beer. Something the rest of the crew understood from the off. Daily jokes continue from Richard, not a single repetition so far and a seemingly inexhaustible ability to produce jokes about any subject matter on cue. Extraordinary talent. Wonderful stories shared through the night shifts, the peace and tranquillity ruined somewhat by the hydrogenator moaning and groaning away mournfully in the background, buuut it’s keeping us in fresh water and therefore alive, so ultimately worth it I suppose. Re-hash of ½ Watties quiz with mum as quiz master extraordinaire a success last night, great fun and perhaps equally fun were the wide ranging and loose association clues from said quizmaster that were harder to crack than the actual answers.

Interaction with competition Gran Soleil 50 ‘Impuls’ as they passed within a mile overnight. Extraordinary after around 1400nautical miles and over a week at sea. Radio contact established and valuable information gained of their plans and sail set-up by Richard and Pete. Jonnie has shaken a reef out and taken the helm. We’re not racing of course. More race details on blog tomorrow.

Much love to all back home and we’re thinking of you all.


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