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Jack Rowland Smith - Log Day 5 - JACK Rowland Smith - The Milestones

Apologies in advance about this one, very tired today and I have caught man flu from George the Autopilot!!

So by 1pm GMT today we will have been at sea 5 days and,given we are hoping for a 20 day passage or less, we are one quarter of the way through our voyage. We have covered over 700 Miles at an average speed of 7 knots and are currently positioned about 150 miles north of the Cape Verde Islands. A milestone indeed.

To be honest day 5 has been nothing short of embarrassingly casual for JACK and crew. We woke up yesterday to a building breeze and sea and, more by inertia than design, we maintained our overnight sail plan of double reefed Main and poled out shortened jib and this saw us safely roll our way south west at speeds of between 7 and 10 knots all day.

Water is bizarrely an issue on a boat, the fresh type that is because you never have enough. A normal cruising boat (well the ones I am used to) could not keep up with John and Sue’s level of cleanliness and showering rituals hence the need for a water maker. Jack has a custom built “skipper special” on board and it works very well. So we have cleanliness levels split into divisions; division one being skipper and first mate showering daily, Clare and myself division 2 roughly every other day because we have be brought up to conserve water and then there is Ben.... with only his mother to impress clearly any form of showering is a waste of water..... I am however pleased to report that even Ben made the shower yesterday evening but his favourite shorts made a dash for it and walked themselves off the boat in disgust at being associated with him!! Another milestone for both Ben and his shorts.

It was also clothes washing day for me. I washed my clothes conserving as much water as I could in my customary way and then hung everything out to dry on the guardrails of the boat. Granted the boat resembled a garden washing line but, hell, who was going to see?? Well clearly somebody in higher authority did and decided to have some fun; no sooner had I sat smugly down in the cockpit and made a comment about my level of cleanliness and water saving skills than a large wave popped up and landed on all my clean washing - oh how everyone thought that was funny and off I trogged to waste water re-rinsing all my clothes!!! At least I try.

Our lives revolve around navigation, weather routing, watches, sleeping and eating. We tend to stick to a format of “bohemian” breakfast, any time any place, but lunch and dinner we eat together. Chef Sue or is it Sue Chef, no I think had better stick with the former, had decided that dinner last night would be “catch of the day”, a high risk strategy and not recommended for any aspiring Michelin Star chefs when you are relying on Laurel and Hardy as your only source of fish. And so “the great fish off” started again, Hardy (John for those not familiar with surnames) getting his line out early armed with his favourite lure (still need to figure out the spelling as I am no fisherman) and stealing a good two hour march on Ben who, of course, was still in bed. When Ben did arrive and realised he had some catching up to do, I of course use the word catching very loosely as there was no official catching, he made some comment on being one nil up and then started a “fishing rights war” over the area 200 feet behind the boat. A negotiated settlement saw Laurel and Hardy happily fishing away 10 minutes later.

Huge excitement, Ben has caught another Mahi Mahi and bigger than our previous one and two nil was already being chanted. The fish was hauled to within five foot of the boat at which point the fish took one final look at his captor and his grappling hook wielding friend and decided he was off. A let off for John (Hardy) but no food for dinner. John had had enough by this stage and marched off to the front of the boat to get his “bestest” lure, only to almost lose everything over the side because he left his fishing box unattended for two seconds on the foredeck of a rolling boat - it got to within an inch of the side....... Anyway guess what, no Michelin stars for Chef Sue tonight, excellent dinner but catch of the day was pork and I am not sure I want to think about how that might have been achieved!!

We do however have a more pressing and serious issues to report. Firstly George the trusted autopilot has once again turned off with no warning at 2.00am this morning but this time yours truly was there to save it. At first light we will have a full system power down to see if that fixes it but this now is a real worry for us, you cannot imagine how it is for singlehanded sailors with these issues. The second issue is one we have only just noticed and relates to the crash gybe we had two nights ago, I am afraid we have damaged and bent the boom so we will be sailing for the rest of the trip with a very reefed main which will slow us down. As I said in my previous blogs, these manoeuvres are always very dangerous.

And now to routing. Well the tradition way to cross the Atlantic is you go south until the butter melts and then you turn right, well that is how the saying goes. We have some concerns about this theory because we have salted butter in a fridge and it is not melting, should we keep going??!! There is also some suggestion from my friends in Bridgend Wales that clearly we are clueless because we were not aiming anywhere near St Lucia and they have started to look for a St Lucia in South Africa.

As you all know we need wind, and in our case lots of it. We have had to go south to round a high pressure area with no wind. We set a point where we believed we would really turn west and that point was 20 degreas north and 25 degrees west, we rounded that point over night so another milestone. However the weather is not helping us so we need to continue south to escape a no wind zone and find the trade winds. We will likely end up at 15 degrees north, a further 300 miles south but so be it.

We would like to end with a couple of thank yous. Firstly to everyone who is reading the blog and commenting on Facebook. We cannot get the Facebook messages first hand but Kathryn is forwarding them to us. Karl Clark wins the award for the best ABBA related comment and there is an ABBA related picture featuring me being passed around originating from my friends in Bridgend which.........

Secondly to everyone who has sponsored us so far, we really appreciate the support. If you did would like to sponsor us, however small, then please go to “Just Giving” and search “Nicholas Hutton-Penman” and this gives you details of the two charities we are supporting.

That is it for us today, we have two or three difficult weather days ahead of us, if we can get through them ok then all those who bet on a 20 day crossing should be in with a good shout. However we have a wounded boat so we will not be putting anything further at risk.

Nick (the real Sue Chef)

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