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Cassini - Cassini Blog #62 - A note from the novice

Following a lot of talk about the technical considerations of the trip I thought it about time that I piped up to give a perspective from a less qualified member of the crew. In fact I would say that in sailing terms I am very much the novice. I have of course spent a great deal of time at sea through my naval career but little did that prepare me for a lexicon that includes sheets, halyards, blocks with soft eyes and blocks with hard eyes, travellers, stays, spreaders, vangs, reefs and so it goes on! I have to say that nearly 4 weeks in I now have a rudimentary grasp of most of these items and would even say that Sarah and I form a fairly competent team on the foc'sle when asked to go fo'rard and dip the pole in in preparation for a jibe. This allows the large headsail to be rigged on the opposite side to the mainsail as we make best use of the available breeze sailing downwind. Thank you to all the crew for your patience and forbearance and excellent instruction. The cockpit (the area at the back where all the controls are) is now beginning to feel very familiar and I have even had a reasonable stab at helming Cassini - when Mildred has allowed of course!
Below decks my naval training has been put to better use. Living in a confined space, including sharing a small cabin, routinely scrubbing out, taking turns at preparing meals in the galley whilst standing watches on deck in a one in three rotation are all far more familiar activities.
Of course my single most important role has been that of chief fisherman. During the first leg from Las Palmas to Mindelo I drew a blank although we did lose some gear to a couple of heavy "bites" suffering broken hooks (rusty) and snapped line (nylon not wire). Learning from these experiences and taking advice from local fisherman in Mindelo I set about creating some rigs more fitting to the task. Wire traces were constructed thanks to the crimpers in Simon's electrical bag, hook sizes were increased and a generally more robust outfit put together. As has been previously reported I am happy to say that success has been achieved and a number of very tasty fish including Mahi Mahi and Wahoo have been landed. Much to my relief as I was beginning to feel as though I might be tossed over the side for not pulling my weight and joining the crew under false pretences!
Finally the crew - sailing competence, navigating skills, engineering problem solving, storing ship etc are all vital but would be to no avail if the crew did not work. So it is great to report that we have gelled as a team and taken on an even share of duties and tasks, so much so that hardly a harsh word has been uttered onboard. In fact the reverse, there has been an enormous amount of laughter, endless dit spinning and a huge amount of banter and mickey taking that has lead to an extremely enjoyable experience. A few more days and we arrive in Grenada and look forward to a well earned beer. No doubt the stories will be embellished around the bar; the weight of the fish will grow, the strength of the winds and size of the waves increase and the number of sailing maneouvers multiply but I am certain we will all agree that it has been a great experience and one that this novice sailor will remember for a very long time.
Mark (Durks)

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