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Rafiki - Chugging away

Friday 14th December 2012

Rob writes:

We finally admitted defeat on our goal of sailing all the way to St
Lucia this morning - the wind died away during the night and there is
no prospect of much wind for the next 3-4 days, a real shame. On the
plus side, we have plenty of diesel left to take us the remaining
400NM to St Lucia, having only used about 60l for battery charging so

So off we chugged across a flat calm ocean with nothing in sight all
around. We decided to try and use the last days of our trip to sort
the boat out for arriving in St Lucia so we don't have a lot of jobs
to do when we get there. Cally set about cleaning the fridge and
freezer out as some fish defrosted and dripped liquid, which has given
it a rather off-putting smell, doing the last laundry before St Lucia
and reorganising our canned food to free up one of the cockpit
lockers. This means we can empty out things from the anchor locker
and have this ready so we can have a swim when we arrive! Phil went
around cleaning tea stains and other marks from the deck, while Rob
got the cabin fans working again as we suspect it will be rather hot
at night in the marina. We also topped up our fuel tank from the
spare cans of diesel we carried and so now know exactly how much we
have left to take us there. Emily and James set about
enthusiastically making Christmas cards for friends at home, with
Cally joining in after lunch, which Phil kindly offered to deliver
when he gets back. Andy fixed a twist in the mainsheet that caused
the rope to rub on itself and found the source of chafing to our genoa
furling line: while sailing with the port gybe preventer on, the block
for this touches the furling line and it turns out to have a slightly
sharp edge. We are all amazed at how little it takes to start cutting
through a rope: small movement around anything that is not perfectly
smooth gradually saws through over the hours.

In the evening, I joined the weather radio net with Herb and was
getting a bit frustrated at the slow progress of the discussion when I
heard someone relaying another boat's report to Herb repeat "did you
say you have lost your mast, over". It was difficult to hear their
response, but over the next two days, I got most of the story. The
yacht is not part of the ARC, but we met them in Porto Santo. The crew
are father and son, bound for the Texas coast where their yacht will
be lifted out and trucked to Vancouver in Canada where they are
emigrating. Their yacht has two masts and the smaller, rear mast has
fallen down, I assume in some bad weather: there have been several
lows forming to the east of us in the last week or so, the yacht is at
46deg West. No one was hurt fortunately, but it broke their autopilot
and their SSB radio aerial. They had managed to rig a temporary
aerial to be able to join the net. Herb did a great job of
coordinating other boats to be able to relay what they were saying, in
summary all well on board, but they are short of diesel (I assume due
to motoring to try and avoid bad weather). They have enough left to
charge their batteries for seven days, so touch and go whether this
would be enough for them to get to the Windward islands (closest land
to them now) before running out. Herb spoke to the Coastguard in
Miami and then Martinique who will put out a safety message to ships
in the area to see if one will divert and drop off some diesel. I
also contacted two boats on the ARC by email, who had diverted to the
Cape Verde islands early on due to mechanical problems and had then
restarted, to see if they could help. So far one has replied to say
that he can't as his fuel is only in their main tank and so hard to
extract to fill jerry cans. I'll give an update on the next days when
we find out what has happened, but the main thing is the crew are all
well and very grateful for the ability to talk to other boats and for
Herb's coordination to get them some help if possible.

Although we were having to motor, the night sky was beautifully clear
again, so we all stayed up to have a good look. Indeed it was so calm,
that some of the brighter stars lower in the sky were reflected on the
water, quite a sight in the Atlantic Ocean. We also spotted the
crescent moon appear to the west, a small silver sliver showing at the
bottom of the dark shadow of the rest of the moon which prompted Emily
to say: "The moon looks as if it is being cradled in the palm of God's

Lunch: Sausages, mash and roasted peppers
Supper: freshly made coronation chicken, coleslaw and potato salad.

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