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Shepherd Moon - Curb crawling

There are many things that are frustrating about being trapped on a 48-foot boat for three weeks. You can't go for a walk, for instance, and even the view outside doesn't change that much. On the plus side, you are never more than a few quick steps away from the loo, which is a big plus when you have been suffering from an upset tummy since leaving the Galapagos. Jacob fell victim to the bug the day before we left, and being such a kind, considerate young man, he thought it would be only fair to share it with his father. Thankfully, Vanessa, who has the constitution of an ox, has not succumbed so far. Anyway, feeling sorry for myself is the main reason for a couple of blog-less days, that and the general absence of anything interesting to write about.

We are making excellent progress westwards, and have only had to motor for just over an hour so far. We sailed southwest for a couple of days until we picked up the trade winds, and we are now romping along at around 8 knots (with a little bit of help from the south equatorial current), broad reaching in about 16 to 18 knots of breeze. We had a small panic when it looked as though the freezer had stopped working, but it turned out I had just knocked a wire off a key connection when fiddling around with something else. Other than that, everything seems to be working beautifully, which should be great news but is actually slightly unnerving.

The one thing we are nursing (other than the skipper) is our autopilot. We did have two autopilots, but we managed to break one on the way from Martinique to Colombia and we are waiting to get it replaced under warranty. We do have Hettie, the Hydrovane (a wind powered steering system), but she doesn't do a very good job when we are on port tack. This wasn't a problem when we were in the North East trades heading across the Atlantic because we were always on starboard tack. However, now we are south of the equator and in the South East trades, it is a problem. To preserve our one remaining autopilot, we are trying to hand steer during the daylight hours. That would be fine if the task could be shared between the three of us, but when Jacob is on the helm, nobody can relax. To draw an analogy with driving, rather than heading down the middle of the road, Jacob's approach is to steer towards the curb until he bumps into it, and then veer wildly across to the other side until he hits the opposing curb. Come to think of it, this could explain why the only panel on Jacob's car without a dent is the roof!

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