10 December Yet another turning point?

Since leaving Gran Canaria we have headed SW, S to avoid bad weather, SW again, W near Cape Verde, SW again to find better winds, W, SW again to avoid strong headwinds (N) or no wind (W). Where is St Lucia? Our waypoint to clear Pigeon Island on the NW corner is on a bearing of 289 and, since this morning (Monday), we have been steering 289! We are hopeful that we can now aim straight there. Yesterday’s night watches were not pleasant. At about 0030 it started raining, the radar showed a two mile ring of showers, some heavy. OK, 2 miles, 20 minutes? Wrong. The 2 mile ring just kept moving with us until about 0800. Occasionally the showers brought 10-12 knots of wind, enough to sail by, but it rarely lasted more than 30 minutes. John did pull out the genoa and cut the engine. Within half an hour the wind had dropped back to 5 knots and Starblazer was barely moving. The excitement of the night was undoubtedly the shackle pinging off which should connect the mainsheet jammer to the traveller. I was hiding from the rain, sitting at the nav table doing a cross stitch, keeping a good lookout with the radar and AIS and, regularly, popping into the cockpit to carefully scan all around the boat. Suddenly I heard a metallic ping then the boom seemed to start banging around. I shot into the cockpit to find the boom gybing at will, fortunately unable to go far in either direction because the sheet had snagged on a winch. To be fair, there was only 3 knots of apparent wind from behind. Of course it was pitch dark and raining. To cut a long story short, I stabilised the boom with two ropes then managed to reattach the jammer block to the traveller minus one shackle. Job done, nearly time to wake up the skipper with a cup of tea. John downloaded a GRIB file before breakfast and it showed favourable winds for the next three days so we altered course for St Lucia and waited for the wind. It suddenly came up at 0940 UT and we have been sailing fast ever since. Monday is housework day. 1- Change the bedding, i.e. one sheetbag and one pillow case because we ‘hot bunk’. 2- Turn over the eggs, easy to just turn over the complete box. Allegedly one skipper was turning over the eggs one by one until his crew said why not just turn the box over? 3- Check the fruit and vegetables. This time, before we started, I separated the produce into three plastic crates, one per week. I have a fourth crate that holds the current week’s fruit and salad. As each week’s box comes into use I transfer its fruit and salad into the fourth crate with any remaining from the week before. The system is working well and not too much is spoiling. 4- Not my favourite job, sort the rubbish and compact it as much as possible. Our aim is to have no more than three carrier bags of rubbish, unfortunately we can’t find the can crusher so that bag might be bigger! The job isn’t as disgusting as it sounds because all plastic waste, cans etc. are washed and dried before going in the bin or the recycling bag. All vegetable waste is fed to the fish. 5- Sort the laundry and decide if I need to do some more hand washing, I decided it could wait. 6- Remove meat from the freezer for the next few days. These jobs kept me busy for most of the day. I did them all last Monday but didn’t include them in a blog because that was the day John mended the generator and the watermaker. Monday’s food included a special breakfast because I deserved it: scrambled eggs, bacon and toast. Dinner was cold sliced gammon with a creamy mustard sauce, potatoes and cabbage. After Monday’s stunning sailing we are looking forward to seeing the noon run later today, as it is now 0700 UT. Joyce

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