Freedom - Blog 10 Freedom Tuesday 28th November 2023
Todays Editor CJH
Hello everybody, from the sunny trade winds somewhere west of the Cape Verde’s. Today is another beautiful day, sailing dead downwind with the Spinnaker up, although it did have to come down for an hour whilst we effected repairs. We are now out of spinny repair tape, but in fairness to the old girl, she is 50yrs old (purchased from the now owner of a 50ft yacht appropriately named (given Hawoth heritage) Spirit of Birmingham - A yacht sailed around the world by a lone female in the early seventies. The story goes she put the spinnaker up once in the southern ocean, scared herself silly and it was rarely used ever again (one careful owner!), until acquired by its current owners. It has been up c.90% of our sailing time on this trip with the old adage about the ARC; ‘put your spinnaker up when you leave The Canaries and take it down when you get to St Lucia’ - so far being accurate! Having said that yesterday night was a testing time from the sailing point of view, we are desperately trying to get south and west to the firmly established trades in a relatively narrow band of wind. No wind to our NW and being chased by an advancing high pressure ridge (little or no wind) which we do not want to overtake us. There is more wind to our South but our destination is now West. Last night we experienced a very disturbed sea with an Atlantic swell clashing with localised waves, very unstable winds being influenced by squalls under rain clouds bringing wind strengths varying between 10 and 25knts (20 knts normally being the upper limit of our spinnaker). The Auto helm couldn’t cope with these conditions so the lions share of the helming in these conditions was down to Stu and I who shared double watches with the other crew members all night. We were blessed with a full moon (when it wasn’t behind the clouds)but even then, visibility was good. When it wasn’t squalling Ian, Simon and Nige all did extremely well to hand steer the boat through such difficult conditions.
There wasn’t much time for deep thinking and star gazing last night, it was all action and we nearly abandoned the spinnaker on a couple of occasions. I went to bed at 5am very tired and Stu took over again, I awoke late morning to a calmer sea, lighter winds and more stable conditions. At the moment the wind has dropped and we are experiencing frustratingly lighter winds with few options but to ‘bugger on’ in the same direction, as Churchill would say (Quote included especially for Mr Clayton!).
On more domestic matters, our Australian Angler seems to be in a dilemma as to whether he should put his lines out, despite the crew saying if he wants to fish he should. I’m not sure if that is down to fatigue or the fact that he considers the scale of his recent catch can sustain us for a few days yet! In the kitchen concerns are arising about our fresh meat supplies, are they all edible? All of the chicken is finished and I believe we are moving on to lamb this evening….
I seem to have developed a ‘magic index finger’; yesterday Stu couldn’t get the engine to start so there was general concern for battery charging etc. after some debate on various, some radical, solutions, I said I would give it a try. ….you guessed it the magic finger started it first time and it has been fine ever since. We have also been experiencing some battery charging issues, the problem being that the amount of max charge we have been able to achieve has been progressively decreasing from 100% to 88% yesterday. We had concluded that he mastervolt charging system was playing up or we had a duff battery (we have four in two parallel pairs to give us a 24V system), most likely the latter. About an hour ago I touched the controls with the ‘magic’ finger and ‘eureka’ the problem seems to be fixed. I won’t repeat what Nigel said about future use of said finger!
Meanwhile the ‘Medical Manual for Ships’, has been called into use by Dr Simon Whitaker. It is 400 pages long and apparent Dr Whitaker has rarely consulted it. After Nigel sustained a minor rope burn on his fingers, our resident medical officer consulted the chapter on burial at sea. He has settled for treating his patient with diarolyte!!! (And surreptitiously took one himself…Stu has reported the toilet paper bin needs changing!).
Generally, the mood on Freedom today is more relaxed, we are all a little tired after last night and the slow rhythmic rocking of the boat and lapping of the waves is instilling a certain calm. Long may it continue.
Until tomorrow love and best wishes to you all
The Freedom Fighters.
Sent from my iPad