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Starblazer - 22/06/2017 – Quite a good day

First of all, what went right? The cloudy, cool morning gave way to
sunshine and, by mid-afternoon, it was positively hot. We had wall to wall
sunshine but, as forecast, very little wind.

We have taken the decision to motor at 5 knots, if the breeze sends our
speed up we can throttle back. This strategy resulted in a 125 nm day, not
stunning but the second highest this trip! There are two reasons for our
fuel economy strategy: i) we don’t know exactly how much fuel we have and
ii) we don’t want to arrive in the dark. It’s currently a little after 0600
UT, broad daylight and we have 260 nM to go so 52 hours at 5 knots, just
under 44 hours at 6 knots. 0200 is pitch dark because there is no moon!

On the baking front, I made probably the best loaf of bread for a very long
time, and it was ready in time for lunch. It was possibly better than any
of the bread that has come out of the bread maker.

Motoring has benefits: abundant hot water; full batteries; use of the water
maker without worrying about the batteries, therefore a full tank of water;
and calm seas, the very reason we are motoring! I did some more laundry,
especially the long sleeved tops which demand a cold wash and which I
therefore wouldn’t dare dump in the washing machine.

Late afternoon my attention was caught by a surface disturbance which
quickly confirmed the presence of a whale. It was quite a way off and made
its way diagonally across our stern, getting further away. John wasn’t
convinced that it wasn’t a dolphin. Very shortly after that I spotted
another one, but got a much better look at it. It was a bit closer and we
could see the shape of the fin much more clearly and I caught a glimpse of
the shape of the head. I believe they were both short-finned pilot whales.
There is no way we could have seen a 2-3 metre long dolphin that far away
and be able to make out the detail of its fin. Anyway, to confirm its DNA
it helpfully blew several times!

So what went wrong? When John got up at 0800 he went to check the fuel
level. Unfortunately the gauge hadn’t moved since the previous evening
though we have motored constantly. It looks very much as if the fuel sensor
has failed, again. We replaced it in New Zealand and then again somewhere
in the US last summer. It’s a fragile design where a float goes up and down
two very thin wires. Given some of the rough seas we have been in and the
way the fuel sloshes about in the tank, I suppose we should expect this sort
of breakage but, seriously, why has it broken now when we have ‘suffered’
almost no wind and very calm seas for days?

Dinner was meatballs in a tomato sauce with pasta and green beans.

It is now 0630 on Thursday and I turned off the engine 45 minutes ago. We
are sailing at 6 knots in 13 knots of apparent wind, it would be slower if
the seas weren’t so flat. Every hour sailed makes it more certain that we
will have enough fuel to motor in to Camaret. On the other hand, re-read
paragraph 2, we don’t really want to sail at 6 knots! According to the
GRIBs the breeze will not last and we’ll be motoring again by this evening.
The fallback position, as ever, will be to inflate and launch the dinghy
then drive ourselves onto the fuel dock with the dinghy tied alongside. It’s
a very easy fuel dock to approach, fortunately! We have also become quite
practised in the art of anchoring under sail but that does demand enough
wind to reach the anchorage. We shall see.


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