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Sabine - (118) ARC daily blog update - Sat 10 Dec 2022

Hello interweb friends, Captain Stape on sail boat Sabine right here (///stashing.sinkhole.mediocrity)
It’s a gloriously hot and sunny morning here on Sabine as I awake to the sounds of the crew getting their breakfast. The wind has gone on holiday again and we’re just left with the scraps; the scrag ends of the wind no one else wants, but beggars can’t be choosers so we’ll take it, and raise the spinnaker to try and take full advantage.
As John is figuring out where we are the old fashioned way, Kia holds out a container and asks ‘what’s fits in this box’, Polina immediately says ‘sex toy!’. That’s what the rest of us hear, but Polina insists she said ‘sextant’. But we know what we heard!
We can see Escapade not too far away, also struggling with the lack of wind.
As this long hot day goes on everyone is relaxing whilst Richard plays the ‘watch the battery and start Maria’ game. Because we’re motor sailing. The lowest target percentage this morning: 38%. Motoring to maintain around 4knots with the spinnaker uses 1% every 10mins, from a starting percentage of 44%
To help pass the day, I ask the crew what they are reading:
John - South: the story of Shackleton’s last expidtion: 194-1937 - Earnest Shackleton (and we think we have it bad on Sabine!)
Polina - The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
Richard - Rice and Dirt - Across Africa on a Vespa, Gogos Stergios and Alexandra Fefopoulou
Kia - watching ‘Plebs’, a U.K. comedy set in ancient Rome.
There’s talk of making a human sacrifice to the wind gods… We’ve sacrificed plenty of flying fish on the alter of the netting at the front of the boat - is that not enough for the gods of wind?!
Kia announces the name for the water maker: Jezebel - because she’s unholy as she makes sweet water from salt water, but she’s naughty because as soon as you don’t watch her, her pressure goes up.
(Richard still thinks that Walter the water maker is a better name)
There’s so little wind the spinnaker is just flapping around, so it’s doused and put away so that it can be made ready to hoist at a moment’s notice. Spoiler alert! It’s not required for the rest of the day.
As we’re having to motor so much today, the propulsion batteries are a concern. We have one cell that is very unhappy, which drags 4 of the remaining 5 cells down with it into a depressed state. The 6th cell, for some bizarre reason thinks ‘party time!’ and decides it’s going to super charge itself like it’s taking illegal substances! This massive imbalance between them causes issues for the length of time we can run the motors on batteries before Maria is required, as the overall capacity is reduced. Ultimately, Kia thinks that new propulsion batteries are required. I already feel for the loss in someone’s bank balance! An experiment: we motor with both motors now. This is good. We’re making 6knots - the fastest we’ve been all day, but it does mean we have to listen to Maria for an extended period of time, who has to work harder, which generates more heat. Additional cooling is added to help keep Maria cool: an additional mains powered fan is propped up near Maria to help take some of her surface heat away. To quote a British supermarket: every little helps!
Back to one motor, and we slow down to 5knots, before having to throttle back to around 4.
Still no wind. We’ve finally found the ‘dead zone’.
Kia is convinced that our problems started when the microwave broke. (And you thought we’d left all that behind us! Ha!)
Kia has run out of cigarettes. Several packets got more than a little damp with the mildly inclement (!!) weather we’ve had on this passage. There is talk of messaging another boat to say ‘make sure you meet us as soon as we arrive with several packets!’
Richard’s old deck shoes are falling apart. To be fair, they are over 7 years and have lasted well, even if they’ve only been used on a boat for 6 weeks. But Richard is wondering whether they’re going to make it to St. Lucia. Don’t worry my interweb friends, he’ll not end up barefoot as he has brought a spare pair with him. How organised!
Optimistically, the main is raised and then the Genoa unfurled. Hopefully they can catch the slight wisps of wind we feel. The ocean swell isn’t helping. 4-6m of gentle rolling swell rocks the boat and spills the wind from the sails. This is the dead zone alright!
We check the rations of the important stuff we have left: 3 bottles of 7-Up and 5 of Pepsi Max - that *should* be enough until we arrive. After that, we’re down to cans of beer, and bottles of wine and cava. Ah well, when needs must. At least we won’t go thirsty.
We see dolphins, and they swim alongside us for a few minutes, jumping out of the water to cast their eyes over us. We’re convinced they’re attracted to the whine of the electric propulsion. Or maybe it was the smell of the pizza? This is the best entertainment we’ve had on this rather slow and windless day. Far more entertaining than watching a dead fish bounce in netting.
Maria sings, and then is silent. We all wish she could sing a more pleasant tune. ‘Thrddddddddd’ gets rather tiresome after a while. I offered to sing for the crew, but when I started my squawking, hands came quickly to ears. Clearly I’m not appreciated in this company! Bah!
The Sat nav collision alarm goes off. It seems we’ve been stalked all day by Escapade, who are also still struggling with the lack of wind. But they have 2 diesel motors they can bring into use, so we wonder why they’ve been trying to sail rather than just press the button and push the throttle. I bet they haven’t got electric propulsion and dodgy batteries to manage.
John is preparing the courtesy flag for St. Lucia, but it’ll still be a couple of days before we need to even think about flying it.
As the sun sets, Kia videos the sun slowly burning its way into the sea on the horizon. It’s all peaceful and serene until Richard pipes up with ‘I’ll switch off the extra fan as we don’t need it’, ruining Kia’s special moment. ‘We can add music to it later…’ suggests Richard.
With the sun gone the day starts to cool down.
For some reason Kia asks if there’s a way to hear things from a distance. Richard thinks that wildlife film makers use some sort of omnidirectional (‘unidirectional’, John corrects Richard) microphone that attaches to a parabolic dish.
‘Yes, but what are they called?’
Silence. Maybe my interweb friends can answer this questions for us? I suspect Kia wants to eavesdrop on the crew of Escapade!
Darkness falls and the stars appear. It’s a dark sky before the moon rises, and all the stars shine brightly on the back canvass. Mars is clearly visible as the only orange dot amongst the silver.
And on that note, my interweb friends, it’s time to call it a night.
To answer yesterdays question, John wore shorts. I didn’t have the courage to ask about pants, sorry.
This is Capt. Stape signing off with 355nm to go. Ciao ciao squawk!

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