29/055/2017 – Going slower

The weather system which affected us Thursday evening and through Friday did leave a very short lived legacy of better speeds but unfortunately the high pressure ridge, which had been pushed south, fairly quickly filled the void left by the departing Low. This brings more settled weather but very little wind and we have been suffering ever since. Day 10, Friday to Saturday, kept reasonable winds through to mid-morning Saturday when we had to resort to the engine. The day’s run was 144 nM, giving us hope of a daylight arrival on Tuesday. Saturday to Sunday was not so good, resulting in our lowest day’s run on this trip of just 110 nM and that’s with some help from the engine! By Sunday noon reality had set in that the chances of a daylight arrival on Tuesday are non-existent, daylight on Wednesday also looks a bit difficult! ..... ..... In an attempt to coax more speed out of Starblazer in these weak fickle winds we keep gybing the main, putting the pole up then down, then up again. We have even used the staysail as well to try to encourage the extra half knot! At least the seas have flattened, though the ocean swell means we still roll. The other boats on the SSB net all seem to be making progress under spinnaker or Parasailor, a fancy expensive type of spinnaker. We cannot handle a spinnaker with just two of us and the cruising chute, if we could fly it, wouldn’t cope with the wind from almost straight behind. ..... ..... One of the amazing things about sailing oceans is the wonderful night sky. There is zero light pollution, even the moon has been turned off for the past few days. In fact, the moon doesn’t rise until just after dawn at the moment and is only about 10% so offers no light. When it was very cloudy the darkness was intense. Now the skies are clear the Milky Way is spectacular in its sheer enormity, with millions of tiny pinpricks of light. I guess we could see it at home if we went to a very isolated area with no ambient lighting. It might even be possible from our garden when the trees are in leaf and hide the motorway services completely. ..... ..... Friday’s dinner was pork cutlets with apple and chilli sauce, potatoes and veg then the cook went on strike on Saturday. It was he Skipper’s turn to cook his speciality, Spaghetti Bolognese, and very tasty it was too. ..... ..... Joyce

26/05/2017 – Three time zones on one boat.

Yes, really we have three time zones on Starblazer, or rather clocks etc. showing three different times. ‘Why?’ you may ask. The answer is easy. The clock on the wall tells us the time in UT or GMT or Zulu Time, whatever. All time zones around the world are based on Greenwich. The earth rotates 360 degrees each 24 hours therefore 15 degrees of longitude constitute one hour of the earth’s travels. Not all countries set their clocks by their geographic location, some choose to align themselves with their neighbour for convenience. Bermuda was UT -4 that means you have to take four hours off UT to find the time in Bermuda, summer time just complicates matters. We started this leg on Bermuda time so the GPS and our iPads are set to UT -3 to account for summer time. Our destination is The Azores, UT -1, however they also have summer time so the time there is UT. Yesterday we made the decision to change our wrist watches, overnight watches and mealtimes to UT -2. The reason for this was because of the daylight hours. As we have sailed eastwards the sunrise has got earlier and earlier and dusk has also arrived earlier. We like to eat both breakfast and dinner in daylight, hence the time change on our wrist watches. The iPads have alarms set to remind us when to do the log and when to turn the SSB on for the twice daily radio net. We will stay on our own personal time zone until we arrive, hopefully next Tuesday. If we went forward another hour the evening SSB net would be when I should be asleep and it’s difficult to sleep through that! ..... ..... The predicted weather happened. We had lower winds than the boats 100 or so miles further north, though still enough to encourage us to roll away most of the genoa. The wind was from behind so we could keep the full mainsail. As the boat speeds forwards it reduces the true wind speed from behind, giving something called the apparent wind. The apparent wind is what the boat feels, if a boat can feel, and you set the sails accordingly. This morning, Friday, a weak cold front passed slowly over us bringing clouds and drizzle, heavy at times. The winds from overnight have led to swells of 3-4 metres and the waves roll in on top of that. Sitting in the cockpit this morning I was struck by the beauty of these crashing waves but not when they crash into the boat and shower the cockpit! At a distance the breaking crests just look white but as they approach they have an emerald glint in them. If they break right alongside you can see the most beautiful light turquoise. Somehow, the English Channel never seems so appealing! ..... ..... The day’s run to noon Friday was 149 nM, hooray. From now on things should improve because we have now gybed and are heading towards Horta on Faial rather than due east or lower to avoid the worst of the weather. We are both well, the boat is doing fantastically and we hope for a Tuesday arrival. ..... ..... Thursday’s dinner was grilled beefburgers on a bed of noodles accompanied by a vegetable stir fry. The one culinary failure was the Easiyo yogurt which refused to set and I don’t know why. ..... ..... Joyce

25/05/2017 – Not all about the weather!

Days seven and eight were a great improvement on the previous few days, at least in terms of weather. The seas calmed down to about 2-3 metres, the winds dropped and eventually all but disappeared for most of Wednesday. We made the most of having to use the engine to fully charge the batteries and make a tank full of water. The day’s run, Tuesday to Wednesday, was a paltry 122 nM, aided by 6 hours of motoring early in the morning. Wednesday to Thursday wasn’t much better, 128 nM with far more engine hours! VMG is a term used to describe the average speed towards the destination, the day’s run is calculated as the distance travelled towards the waypoint, therefore our VMG for the two days was 5.2 knots, not good. We have, in fact, travelled much further and faster but not quite in the right direction. ..... ..... Wednesday was a productive day. As it was a lot calmer we both had showers, something which is hazardous in rough conditions. They say, you know you are a cruiser when the doctor notices your numerous bruises and mentions spousal abuse! I then did the washing and hung it across the back of the boat. In the afternoon I made up a large batch of chewy bars, very tasty but not good for the diet. It was also a lot warmer, we spent the day in t-shirts and trousers (not warm enough for shorts!) rather than fleeces. When the sun went down it rapidly became quite chilly again. Wednesday was also a day of celebration. Just on 0800 we reached the halfway point to the waypoint from Bermuda. For breakfast I made up some American style pancakes, served with poached eggs, grilled BACK bacon and maple syrup flavoured Golden Syrup! It’s worth shouting out about the bacon. In the USA you can only get streaky rashers or very small, expensive medallions. I found this British made back bacon in the freezer in the small supermarket in Nanny Cay in the BVI. It’s actually not the best but it easily beats the 50-75% fat content of US streaky! ..... ..... The kicker that holds the boom down when the mainsail tries to lift it has a wire rope in its block and tackle. This finally succumbed to old age and overwork and shredded. Fortunately we have some fantastically strong non-stretch rope (Dyneema) that John cut to length and spliced eyes into each end. Job sorted. A full job that involves dismantling a telescopic strut will have to wait for Horta. ..... ..... Also on Wednesday a small pod of dolphins arrived to again entertain us. No major leaps but seeing them always brings a smile as they swim around alongside and in the bow wave. ..... ..... Today’s job was rubbish; that is sorting it compacting it and storing it because the bin was overflowing. The job is not as yucky as it may seem. All food wrappers, milk containers, yogurt pots etc. get washed before being put in the bin, no vegetable or other food waste goes in, so it is just a case of cutting up plastic bottles, yogurt pots etc. and folding wrappings. Scrunched up paper takes up so much more room than folded paper, the same goes for plastic wrappers, cling film and foil. My aim is to have generated only a couple of small bin bags by the time we reach the Azores. ..... ..... We are expecting some more weather, not the nice sort, this evening but by early tomorrow afternoon we should be able to alter course for the Azores. ..... ..... Tuesday’s dinner was an easy meal because it was still rather bouncy, grilled sausages, couscous and ratatouille. Wednesday’s celebration dinner was steak, ranch chips which I cooked in the oven, with green beans and butternut squash followed by a fresh fruit salad with cream. ..... ..... We are happy to be keeping a place in the middle of the fleet as most of the boats should be faster than us. With some rough handicap calculations we really are doing well. Final positions will all depend on how many hours each boat motors for. ..... ..... Joyce

23/05/2017 – Days 4, 5 & 6

The past three days have been dominated by the weather, our day’s runs have reflected decisions we have made concerning where to head to avoid the worst of it. Saturday to Sunday we only made 119 miles towards the Azores though we sailed a lot further. The advice from the weather forecasters was to stay or get below 35 degrees which, for us, meant heading SE rather than just north of east. At the 2300 watch changeover we gybed the mainsail and rolled away the genoa to head due east. As the genoa had been poled out we couldn’t use it without lowering the pole and rerouting the sheet, something we do not do at night! All day Sunday the wind was fairly low, the calm before the storm? ..... ..... At noon Sunday the wind had teased us enough to drop two reefs in the main and roll up half the genoa. It didn’t in fact strengthen until just before midnight. By 0500 it was blowing 20-22 knots with gusts to 28 it continued to build to a steady 25 knots with gusts to 30. The day’s run was 127 mainly held back by the lower winds during Sunday afternoon. The wind settled back to low 20s with gusts to 28 during the day and the seas finally started to die down during the evening, so we both slept well during our 2 three hour off watch periods. The day’s run, Monday to Tuesday was a far more respectable 146. ..... ..... Writing this, I can imagine many Solent racers scratching their heads, saying ‘What’s she complaining about? We sail in far stronger winds in the Hamble Winter Series!’ The difference is the sea state. Here the fetch, the distance the wind travels over the sea whipping it up, is hundreds of miles. The swells during Monday built to 5 metres at a conservative estimate. There are also waves pounding in, not necessarily from the same direction as the swell. Every now and then a wave would slap the boat heavily and we would get showered with sea. One wave even had the audacity to dump a load of water in the cockpit and all over me! By Tuesday morning the seas were down to 2-3 metres the boat isn’t getting hurled about so frequently and we started to make good progress in gentler winds. Several of the boats, only 20-30 nM north of us had far worse winds and damage caused by the sea state. ..... ..... So what was it all about? A deep Low (988 mb) developed off Newfoundland about 700 nM north of us and started heading east. The severe gales associated with the low tracked alongside it. As we were south of the Low the winds were roughly WNW until the Low passed when they veered to NW, N and finally NE. Lows also spawn fronts. Sunday morning there was a weak cold front crossing us resulting in the odd squall and overcast skies. Clearer skies and better weather followed several hours later. Monday evening another weak cold front passed us again with little rain but cloudy skies and some wind squalls. Weather seems to be a case of feast or famine. Tomorrow a weak ridge of high pressure is expected to cross our path with winds in the 5-10 knot range and reducing over the following 24 hours. ..... ..... There have been highlights. Sunday evening we had a visit from some very athletic dolphins. They love the rougher seas, using the swells as a launch pad to leap clear out of the water. Sadly it was too rough to venture on deck to take photos. Today at noon, Tuesday, we reached the 1,000 miles to go milestone. Tomorrow, with luck we should reach the halfway point and earn a steak dinner! ..... ..... Did I mention it is cold? Overnight we have needed long trousers and jumpers under our foul weather gear, socks, boots, woolly hats and gloves. ..... ..... Breakfasts have often been porridge and lunch has started with soup, more normal for winter in England than our sailing during the past 4 years. Saturday’s dinner was a sausage casserole I’d frozen earlier, Sunday was braised herb coated lamb chops on a bed of vegetables cooked in the pressure cooker and Monday we had a can of beef stuffed cannelloni in a tomato sauce cooked in the oven. The French do some very good tinned meals, I wish I’d bought more of them. ..... ..... Tomorrow I’ll try to write something that isn’t about the weather! ..... ..... Joyce

21/05/2017 – Going in the right direction sometimes.

Day 3, noon Friday to noon Saturday, comprised a number of course changes. Our pathetically slow progress northeastwards to find a better breeze finally paid off from mid- afternoon onwards, when we could lay a course a bit closer to the desired one and pick up a bit of speed. From 0300 we were able to head straight for the Azores and we made cracking progress until about 0900. When I did the 0900 log the course we were making as opposed to steering was 30 degrees high, caused by an unexpected current. At the 0930 SSB net matters only got worse when the weather report and GRIB files were discussed. One boat has subscribed to a weather guru in the States who recommended getting down to between 34 and 35 degrees North to avoid some potentially very strong winds on Sunday/Monday. We were at 35 degrees 53 minutes where one minute equals one nautical mile. We decided to head southeast to reach 35 degrees before altering course to head due east as we believe 34 degrees is unnecessary. Being so low will have a knock on effect when the weather system has passed which I’ll describe in my next blog. The Azores are at 38 degrees north so slightly north of east from where we are. The result of the course change meant that we only made 13 miles towards our destination in the last 3 hour period to noon though we were sailing at over 7 knots. It’s all to do with Pythagoras! It isn’t all doom and gloom though, as we made a surprising 153 nM towards the Azores. Only 1393 nM to go. ..... ..... On the culinary front I decided to make a roast dinner though the beef was already previously cooked and sliced. Roast potatoes, roast butternut squash, individual Yorkshire puddings, green beans and gravy. Growing up, Friday was traditionally fish dinner day, a hangover from religion. Unfortunately I’d dished up the fish I’d defrosted on Thursday, so we had what is traditionally a Sunday dinner. Breakfast on Saturday morning was pancakes with assorted toppings as I had made a double batch of batter for the Yorkshire puddings. We continue to eat well. ..... ..... As you can tell, not a lot happens on passage, except sail changes, pole out for the genoa when the wind is aft, removed and the sheet rethreaded when the wind is on the beam or forwards, pole swapped to the other side when the gybe the mainsail etc. It is perhaps rather surprising that I don’t find it boring, something helped no end by the iPads. ..... ..... Joyce

19/05/2017 – The first two days

The start at 1100 on Wednesday was interesting. Somehow we managed to sail over the line at 3.2 knots in very little wind. We put in a tack and found we could only make 1.9 so we put the engine in gear and motored towards the Town Cut where we all had to motor through because it was straight into the wind! Tacking was interesting for us. We had installed the inner forestay so that we could use the staysail together with the genoa to get better wind in the light breeze, though we hadn’t pulled up the staysail. Normally, when you tack the wind blows the sail across and it manages to pull past the mast. With the inner forestay in place there is only a narrow slot for the genoa to pass through so we wound it away, altered course and pulled it out on the other side, not the speediest tacking manoeuvre ever! ..... ..... Once out of the cut we sailed for 45 minutes but only managed 1.5 nM towards our destination so on went the engine again. The forecast was for little wind for a day or so, heading northeast would give us the best chance of finding some slightly stronger wind. We finally turned the engine off at 0843 on Thursday morning and we have been sailing ever since. ..... ..... The highlight of the first day (1110 start for class B to midday Thursday) was a dinner of liver, bacon, fried onions, potatoes, ratatouille and gravy. The day’s run to noon was 133 nM, almost entirely on engine. Once we were sailing and the batteries were fully charged John started the generator and we made a tank of water as we were down to the red. ..... ..... Thursday afternoon, with lots of water plus lots of hot water, I washed some shirts and undies which dried quite quickly on the line across the arch on the aft deck. I will try to keep on top of the laundry as there is nothing worse than to spend the first couple of days ashore doing the laundry! I then made up a batch of Thai Green Curry paste which turned out rather red because I used a red pepper as I hadn’t bought a green pepper. Never mind the colour, it tasted good and half is in the freezer to use another day. Dinner was Thai Green Vegetable Curry with pan fried Wahoo fillets. This is almost the last of a large fish we caught last year. I had a couple of slices of Key Lime Pie hidden away so that was dessert. ..... ..... Overnight the wind backed and now we are more or less sailing towards our destination with the wind close behind. The preventer is firmly on the mainsail and the genoa is poled out the other side. We dropped the staysail and that is laying on the dinghy, ready to be pressed into service if necessary. The day’s run to noon was a pathetic 114 nM towards our destination, partly because we were heading 30 degrees high until about 2100. ..... ..... Towards the end of the leg from the BVI to Bermuda the nights started to become cooler to the extent that I dug out a blanket to go over the sheet bag. We are not that much further north but last night the blanket was not enough so the duvet was pressed into service. Why are we heading north? Cold nights usually result in a hot breakfast. Thursday I made porridge, today it was scrambled eggs on toast with bacon. Yes, food is a very important part of sailing! ..... ..... Joyce

11 &12/05/2017 – Whether the weather, whatever the weather

Whether we like it or not! This was a speech therapy rhyme remembered from my first few months in infant school, but it adequately describes the last few days! The highlight of Wednesday was possibly the beef carbonnade, however the wind finally picked up a bit and we managed to turn the engine off at 2200. That marked the end of a 29 hour motoring stint, with a brief pause when the fresh water cooling reservoir needed topping up. That few minutes confirmed why we were motoring, the mainsail was hanging limply and the boat drifted backwards with a bit of sideways! ..... ..... The wind stayed with us for 24 hours, at times we were averaging 8 knots for 2 consecutive 3 hour periods. This stunning progress encouraged us to start thinking about an early Friday morning entry. The day’s run to noon was a very respectable 147 nM and we had just 120 miles to go. At this point the predicted weather became quite an issue. Both the forecast from WRI and the GRIB files we downloaded showed the very real possibility of very little wind followed by 25 -30 knots with gusts up to 35 as a low passed over Bermuda. John thought about slowing down to let the low pass but that would have made it much harder to reach Bermuda because the wind was expected to swing around to the north, staying at 25-30 knots. The course we were steering was 016, so a north wind was the last thing we wanted. During Thursday afternoon we readied the boat for strong winds. We installed the inner forestay and the port side running backstay because the wind was expected to come from that direction, then John hanked on the staysail and tied it down to keep it under control. Late afternoon the wind piped up so I went to the mast to drop in two reefs, while I was there I hauled up the staysail. We had already rolled away half the genoa. We continued to make good progress. ..... ..... Just before 2200 the engine went on again because we had hit the nearly windless zone shown on the GRIB files! We motored for 6 hours but, frustratingly, could only make just over 5 knots so the very early morning arrival became an early morning arrival. The Bermuda Radio weather forecast suggested light winds overnight, strengthening steadily in the morning; but what constitutes ‘morning’? We were sailing at 6 knots until about 5 miles from the finish when the wind started to build. We quickly rolled the genoa away and sped to the finish, crossing the line at 0634 BVI time, 0734 Bermuda time. I dropped the staysail and the mainsail as we were entering the cut, a narrow channel into St George’s Harbour. We anchored in winds of 25-30 knots, gusting 35. A while later it became obvious that we were dragging, we believe a large ketch snagged our chain as he drove through the anchorage with his anchor down because the position of our anchor was a) not where we set it and b) at 90 degrees to the line of our drag. Suspicious? We think so. We motored around trying to find enough swinging room to put out 50 metres of chain, that would represent about 4 times depth. John prefers to use 5 times depth but didn’t think I’d be too happy trying to get that much chain back up and stowed without having to kneel down several times to push over the heap of chain which often blocks the hawse pipe! Finally, at the third attempt, John was happy with our position and we haven’t dragged even though we have had a full gale here for periods of up to 20 minutes and gusts to 42 knots (about 50 mph). ..... ..... Thursday morning’s breakfast, the last morning at sea, was scrambled egg and grilled bacon. Dinner was supposed to be Thai red chicken curry but the conditions were a bit challenging (and the cook was feeling lazy) so we had a can of Cassoulet Toulousan, tasty and filling. ..... ..... Joyce

10/05/2017 – A different day.

Yesterday the sun reappeared, for most of the day anyway. The wind, on the other hand, reduced even further, barely reaching the heady heights of 8 knots! All this means one thing; we have been plodding along on the engine since 1700, though we should have given in rather sooner. There was one brief spell when the wind piped up a bit, from about 6 to 12, when a squall came through yesterday afternoon. It was almost certainly part of a front which has been lurking around and the wind veered from southeast (starboard tack) to west (port tack). The mainsail went across easily however the genoa was poled out to starboard and was too far off the wind to be helpful so we rolled it away. ..... ..... During the brief but heavy shower two boats, motoring on a parallel course to us on our port side, quickly pulled out their sails and almost as quickly put them away again as the squall passed! These two boats are now on our starboard side, within 6 nM of us though they did get ahead of us over night. When the wind is from dead ahead we cannot maintain 6 knots on the engine unless we run on high, thirsty revs. With the wind off the bow our mainsail can help drive us a little. If there is enough breeze it is also worth pulling out the genoa, every little helps. Our aim is to arrive in Bermuda on Friday afternoon, we need to average just over 5 knots. Yesterday’s run was 128 nM, not fantastic but it would have been horrendous without the use of the engine. ..... ..... After ‘junk food Monday’, or ‘fast food Monday’ which sounds a little healthier, yesterday’s dinner was chicken stir fry with five different vegetables and ‘Straight to Wok’ noodles. I don’t have a wok on board and usually use a very big saucepan however, as it was so calm, I used a frying pan which has a larger base. Rather against the odds, I don’t think I flicked anything on the floor. ..... ..... Joyce

09/05/2017 – ‘After the Lord Mayor’s Show’

If you understand this statement; no we don’t have to go and clear up after the horses! After two days of rewarding, fast sailing we sort of hit the buffers, to mix my metaphors. Between midday and 1800 yesterday we sailed a frustrating 23 nM, a distance we had happily covered in five of the 3 hour log periods over the first two days. Eventually, we had to revert to the ‘iron tops’l’ (the engine) though we have been quite disciplined. As there is a motoring penalty, between 1 and 2, we try to react to the worst case scenario. If we can motor at more than three times the speed we can sail at then the engine goes on! It is, however, very frustrating sailing at 2.1 knots, knowing that we can motor at 5.5 to 6 depending on the conditions. We are aware that most of the boats are motoring but past experience tells us that a couple of boats with engine failure, who therefore have to sail, can skew the motoring penalty so we opt for a ‘worst case scenario.’ Our day’s run was a disappointing 111 nautical Miles; but, on the plus side, we only motored for about 5 hrs 30 mins and we are sure many boats motored for longer. ..... ..... The forecast, backed up by GRIB files which John uploaded, suggest we will have to motor for at least 24 hours sometime soon. This will raise our average speed, which needs to be just over 5 knots for the rest of the trip to arrive before dark on Friday. The one relieving feature is the wind brought by squalls. Just as I was about to sit down to write this we had a massive wind shift, the mainsail tried to gybe but the preventer did its job before John rushed on deck to change our heading. We then gybed the main and returned to our course, by which time the rain was rather heavy but short lived! As the genoa was poled out and flapping we pulled it away and made good progress on main alone for the duration of the squall. Another Rally boat was motoring past us and swiftly pulled out their main, sailed for a bit, rolled away the main and motored off. ..... ..... Apart from trying to stay dry, not a lot has happened in the past 24 hours. At times I really wish we had a cockpit enclosure like many of the American boats. It is an alien concept to Brits but what is not to like about a sort of greenhouse enclosure over the cockpit with holes for sheets etc. to come through, roll up or opening windows for ventilation and shades for the sun plus enough height to stand up in? Skipper says there is too much windage, our boom is too low, also putting the cover on the mainsail would be impossible, but…. The Admiral/crew/kitchen skivvy is not convinced! ..... ..... Yesterday was a fast food day: pizza for lunch enhanced with extra red pepper, mushroom slices and cheese; dinner was a beef burger served on a slice of multigrain toast (Chef’s nod to healthy eating) with ratatouille, followed by yogurt. ..... ..... Oh, the trials and tribulations of sailing! ..... ..... Joyce

08/05/2017 – An interesting day!

The 24 hours from noon Sunday to noon Monday presented us with a few challenges. From a sailing point of view, the wind held through to about 0600 when it began to drop a little. From 0900 to noon it also veered, bringing the wind further behind us. The problem with this is that the mainsail blanks the genoa which cannot draw properly, causing the genoa to lose the plot and flap idly! This, of course, affects the speed. The day’s statistics make good reading for a boat of our size. Overall, the day’s run was 166nM, an average of a hair’s breadth under 7 knots. This average includes the last 6 hours when we only managed 38nM, a 6.33knot average. Tomorrows figures are likely to be bad. ..... ..... We are occasional fishermen, i.e. when one of us thinks about putting a lure in the water. John put in a bright pink lure during the afternoon and more or less forgot about it. About 5 minutes before the dinner was due out of the oven his reel screeched and something big made away with his lure. John slowly tightened the drag, allowing the fish to run a bit, stop, try again etc. In the end he decided to leave the fish on the line while we had dinner. When he finally managed to pull the fish alongside we discovered a beautiful 3’6” – 4’0” long Marlin. What to do with it? It was far too big for us, it hadn’t finished fighting and it had an evil looking bill. We decided we had to let it go, but how? Eventually John lifted him out of the water, still on the rod, and we cut the wire trace. The hook should rust through pretty quickly and it shouldn’t affect the fish’s ability to feed. While this was going on we headed up to wind, allowing the sails to slat and consequently reduced our speed to 3 knots. It was, however, in a good cause. ..... ..... Lunch on Sunday was open sandwiches with Proscuito, ham, cheddar, camembert and a blue cheese, not altogether on the same slice in case you are wondering! Dinner was pan roasted stuffed chicken thighs, roast potatoes, pumpkin, carrots and tomatoes. As a treat I had bought, and hidden, two slices of Georgia Pecan Pie. It wasn’t quite as sweet and sticky as the Minnesota version I remember. ..... ..... As you can see, not a lot happened yesterday though it is worth saying that the wall to wall sunshine kept up our energy demands until sunset. Today there has been no sun so we have run the little generator for three hours, now we are running the main engine in neutral because that will give us a tank of hot water. ..... ..... Joyce