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Starblazer - 18/06/2017 – Challenging sailing!

The challenge we are facing on this leg is to keep Starblazer moving as far
as possible without reverting to the engine. Friday morning’s efforts are a
bit more than our normal cruising behaviour though probably familiar to
racers. It was a foggy morning, we only saw the ship passing 1.5 miles
behind us as a blurred outline though he knew we were there. AIS is a
wonderful tool; we had received notification of his details and a CPA
(Closest Point of Approach) of between 0.1nM (18.4 metres) and half a mile
when he was 12 miles away. John called him up and he offered to alter
course to starboard to pass safely behind us. The separation between us
increased when the wind piped up a bit and we sailed at a speedy 6 knots for
about a quarter of an hour. Ocne he was clear of us we altered course to
aim for a new waypoint a little further east, as the new GRIB file suggested
no strong headwinds in a few days’ time and the possibility of keeping the
weak but usable breeze for another day or so.

The new heading brought the wind aft of midships so we decided to try the
cruising chute since John has repaired the stem head fitting damaged last
time we used the chute. Unfortunately we still had the inner forestay
attached, in readiness for the staysail if the strong headwinds
materialised, which made pulling up the sock to allow the chute to fly
rather difficult. The wind was a bit variable, the mainsail kept blocking
the air flow to the chute so it kept collapsing and cuddling the inner
forestay! I succeeded in pulling the sock most of the way up before it
stuck, possibly because it was wet from being stored on deck. Ten minutes
later we decided to snuff the chute, pack it back in the bag and pull the
genoa back out on the pole to port. Half an hour later we had to gybe the
genoa which meant rolling it away, attaching the pole on the starboard side,
sorting out the sheet so it goes through the aft block then back to the
winch and pulling the sail back out. This represents several days’ worth of
activity for us, well not quite but certainly several hours’ worth. After
lunch we changed the waypoint again, this time heading straight for Camaret
as we expected to be motoring in the very near future!

We decided to plan on 100 mile day’s so needed an average of just over 4
knots which we maintained until about 0300, then the average dropped to
about 3 knots. Sadly the day’s run was only 83 nM towards the waypoint
mainly because we had been heading further north for half the time and then
suffered very weak winds. We continued sailing until 1800 on Saturday when
we had to give up but at least we had conserved some diesel. The highlight
of Saturday afternoon was undoubtedly the whale! I looked up and saw a
black shape, not the normal dolphin shape. It wasn’t terribly close but you
could clearly see the square head with the blow hole right at the front, no
obvious fin on its back and a definite whale shaped tail when he dived. My
book of Atlantic species clearly identified it as a Sperm Whale.

Saturday morning was a cooking frenzy on my part, a loaf of bread for lunch
and an old fashion bread pudding (English version not American which is
closer to a French Pain Perdu or English bread and butter pudding). My
mother used to make a large one every week, baking it in the meat tray; we
used to call it ‘thud’ because that’s the noise it made if you dropped it.
I’d discovered on Friday that the large white loaf was stale so a quick
e-mail resulted in Richard sending a recipe very quickly. A check of the
lockers confirmed I had all the ingredients so I made it on Saturday. It
tastes just like I remember from more than half a century ago! It’s also
not too unhealthy if you only eat small slices as it is low in both fat and
sugar compared with a normal cake, just possibly more heavily laden with

On a food note, Friday’s dinner was beefburgers with spiced couscous and
ratatouille. Saturday’s dinner was pork chops with chilli apple sauce,
mashed potatoes, cauliflower and broccoli.


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