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Rafiki - Buoy ahead!

Saturday 15th December 2012

Cally writes:

I am currently on night watch on a very quiet evening. We are motor
sailing, as the wind has started to fill in a tiny bit, but not enough
for us to stop the engine.

It is a little frustrating to be caught in this lack of wind and yet
today the Ocean has given us plenty of treats which we otherwise
wouldn't have enjoyed.

First up was our encounter with the East of Martinique weather buoy.
This is one of a collection of buoys in the Atlantic that provide
weather data for forecasting. We noticed last night that it would be
on our track and so decided to find it. Not the most exciting thing
to do you may think, but there is not a lot going on while motoring
across the ocean, nor are there many objects moored in 5km water
depth! At breakfast time, Skipper instructed Captain Hawkeye ("Phil")
to find it on the horizon and head straight for it. We were where it
should have been, according to the chart, but there was nothing there.
Just blue water, blue sky and sunshine. We motored on, assuming that
it was no longer used. Then, a few miles later, Hawkeye reported a
sighting off the starboard bow. Skipper's orders were "Aim at it!
Full speed ahead!"

Hawkeye was onto it and suddenly there it was in front of us, just as
the cry went up "Fish! Fish!" Rob abandoned his ARC radionet to Cally
and landed, washed and filleted said fish, just as a second cry of
"Fish! Fish!" was uttered by the Cabin Urchins. Two gorgeous 10lb
yellow fin tuna - fantastic!! And all at once - we're not used to
this frantic pace, any more! It looks like the chain of the buoy
supports a whole micro ecosystem of fish, Hawkeye Phil even spotted a
larger predator (we think dolphin) chasing the tuna as we could see
them leaping out of the water to escape. All this from a relatively
small buoy, admittedly with something like 6000m of chain attached.
Rob had been wanting to catch tuna for the whole trip ad is really
chuffed now! Tuna are such a beautiful fish, both to each and to see
in the water - the flash of silvery light reflected from their belly
in the sunshine as you pull one in is really memorable.

A precise and detailed autopsy was then performed on the second fish,
as heart and intestines etc. were identified and then its stomach
contents examined, with an avid audience looking on. Cabin Urchin
James was particularly impressed to find a whole prawn intact inside
the fish's stomach. (The Galley Slave chose that particular moment to
dust out the inside of the cooker, or something - anything!).

Meanwhile, Able Seaman Andy very stoically and graciously accepted
that, yet again, his much-needed morning sleep (after his usual watch
finish time of 4am) was simply not going to happen. He has been a
real star doing 12-4am every night of the crossing. Tonight he's got
the night off and we've given him the run of the forecabin to get some
much needed rest ahead of the serious partying he's anticipating in
St. Lucia.

Phil and Andy have been hard at work, practising their yarn-telling.
"On my most recent Atlantic crossing...." "Do you remember that
Atlantic crossing when....?" "Was that the one when were in that big
storm, or one of them times when we got becalmed in them Doldrums?"
(All spoken in a hoary voice with a very dodgy Cornish pirate accent.)
I think we need to buy them both guernsey sweaters and pipes for
Christmas. I wonder where you can get those in St. Lucia...

They also have a good banter about food. Andy is good at producing
lots of delicious food with a big flourish. Phil's comment is always
(said in a tone of surprise):"you can live on this!" That is, until
the sushi today. Delicious fresh, fresh tuna marinated in lemon
juice, layered on top of rice, wasabi sauce, chilli sauce and Japanese
seaweed and then rolled up and cut into small pieces to be eaten with
soy sauce. Phil's reaction to Andy's generous dollops of wasabi was a
very definite "you can live without this!" It certainly blew away the

As for the kids, after wonderful Christmas card making yesterday, they
are finally starting to get a bit bored. Nevertheless, they were up
on deck again tonight, joining in part of my night watch and enjoying
the stars and the baby crescent moon which we now see at dusk on the
western horizon ahead of us (before it sinks at about 9.30 pm).

Rob and I have kept busy, moving things round with Phil and Andy's
help in anticipation of being ashore. Having used supplies, there is
space freed up for ropes and fenders etc. etc. to go back into their
usual places. Time to arrive now, please Neptune...


Lunch - tuna sushi, homemade quiche, coleslaw
Supper - tuna steaks with rice and mixed vegetables

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