14/01/2014 – Why do things always happen at night?

First of all, Happy Birthdayto our nephew Paul. I remembered without Facebook to remind me! We are currently about 100 miles north of the Dutch islands of Curacao and Bonaire, over 400 miles from St Lucia, making good speed towards our waypoint where we’ll alter course towards the San Blas islands. The early hours of Monday were interesting, feel free to interpret that as you wish! As I have said before, we try to avoid any work on the foredeck during the hours of darkness but sometimes you have no choice. Halfway through my second off watch, at about 0330, John woke me up because he needed to go forward. He didn’t actually need my help but he also doesn’t break rules. At night Rule1 - lifejacket and safety tether hooked on at all times, you hook on before you come up the companionway into the cockpit; Rule 2 – you do not leave the safety of the cockpit unless the other person is in the cockpit to observe you at work. The problem he needed to fix was that one of the forward pole downhauls had worked free from its lashing on the bow cleat. Briefly, the poles are attached to the mast and stick out sideways, the outboard end is held up by a halyard. When the sail is pulled out the wind in it causes the sail to lift the pole up in the air, not an efficient sail shape. To hold the ends of the pole down and also to keep the pole positioned as near as possible sideways but avoiding all the standing rigging, the important wires which hold the mast up straight, we had rigged 2 downhauls, one to the cleat at midships and one to the bow. He took a spare piece of rope to tie to the errant downhaul, because he knew it was a bit short, then had to fish for it as it was gaily swinging around at from the end of the pole. Long arms and an extending boathook did the job. He managed to get enough force on the rope to pull the pole forward away from the shrouds and also to pull it down though it’s not quite horizontal, then he took the slack out of the halyard and returned to the cockpit. Job done in 15 minutes, sleep wrecked but it had to be done. As I briefly mentioned in yesterday’s log, we had two passengers who stayed until daylight. As dawn broke it was easier to see them, both somehow clinging to the solar panels. They were quite entertaining! As the boat lurched they’d start to slide, a frantic flap of wings and they’d settle down again. One finally slid off, gave up and flew away. The second one stayed for about 20 minutes more, reorganising his feathers! He slid off twice, the first time he gave a squawk and flew back, the second time he didn’t bother to complain and flew back. He was a bit camera shy and the rising sun would have been behind him so I apologise if the photo wasn’t very good, as I took it as soon as I could see him clearly and John reduced the quality to reduce the file size. Email is slow and the cost is per minute. The rest of the day was uneventful until we spotted a cargo ship 8 miles astern of us and the AIS confirmed a yacht about 7 miles away as well. These were the first two vessels we had seen on AIS since early Sunday! Saphir, the yacht slowly came closer, crossing behind us. They are currently 2 miles away. Dinner today was chicken fajitas with coleslaw and a tomato and onion salsa followed by some Spanish crème caramel (long life, needs no refrigeration, what a find!) Stop press: another problem in the middle of the night. More tomorrow. We are fit and well, making very good progress towards our waypoint and our noon-noon run was 169 miles Joyce

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