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Shepherd Moon - Life on the edge

We have just passed the 1,000-mile mark and so we are roughly a third of the way to Hiva Oa. That, and the fact the sun has come out after a couple of miserable, overcast days, has lifted the mood on Shepherd Moon. The seas have also calmed down a bit. It is still a challenge walking across the cabin, but you're not being flung around quite so violently. The sea has also become a very attractive blue, so it no longer looks like the English Channel on a drizzly day.

No exciting wildlife sightings to report, unfortunately, although each morning we have to clear the decks of flying fish and squid that have arrived in the night, the aquatic equivalent of road-kill. I never realised that squid could fly too, but in the Galapagos we saw them being chased by Sea Lions. They'd shoot out of the water to escape and fly for perhaps 50 metres before gravity got the better of them. I think I'd rather be chomped up by a tuna than spend my last hours slowly desiccating in the sun, but I guess that kind of risk assessment is the last thing on the squids' mind as it reaches for the eject button. After all, you've got to be a pretty unlucky squid to bump into a boat when you're a thousand miles from the nearest land.

Thankfully all is still working well on Shepherd Moon, although we have to be super-vigilant about chafe. Spending so much time on the same tack and with the same sail configurations means that even the smallest rub can, over time, lead to a rope fraying or a sail ripping. Even Hettie the Hydrovane has pulled up her proverbial pop-socks. She has been steering us ably for the past four hours, with only the occasional wayward lurch. While the calmer seas are helping, I think the real catalyst was the threat to replace her with a "Sheila" whilst navigating in the southern hemisphere. Even more remarkable than Hettie's return to form is Jacob's new found prowess on the helm. Ever since he read the last blog he has been steering like a dream (rather than in a dream). Let's hope his road driving skills will have improved in parallel.

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