19 December 2013

Today is a much better day than yesterday in many ways. We’ve had a N’ly swell which has been running into a fresh wind for the past few days creating a lumpy motion. But during the night the wind dropped to about F3-4 and the swell crept round to flow with the wind so they are both from the SE. The current here is flowing to the west as well. As a result the sea is a lot flatter today and more regular. For the first time in quite a number of days I can go on deck without oilskins. There is still some spray coming over the rail but it is a thing of nothing. The horizon is a straight line again and that always makes it easier for taking sights.

The sky has cleared a lot as well and the sun is burning hot again. It was 30º C in the cabin this morning. From our noon position today we have 52 miles to go to the equator. If this wind holds, which it looks like doing, we should be across tomorrow.

There was still a bad smell coming from the saltwater pump so this morning I shut off the seacock, disconnected the pump and poured bleach down the length of the line. I’ve shaken the hose around a bit to disperse it and I’ll leave it overnight to see if it’s any better.

What I said a day or two ago about how I deal with the fresh water is similar to what happens with all the food onboard. All the grub I need for a year is stored in separate lockers and while I was stowing it in Alyson was taking a note of where everything was. How many cans of mince, what weight they are and so on for everything. Enough for 400 breakfasts, lunches and dinners. So, I have a folder detailing all the quantities of food onboard and where to find it. When I take out a tin of corned beef or a packet of biscuit it gets stroked off the list and so I have a running total of what’s left and where it is.

I am very aware that everything onboard is finite. Once something is used that’s it. It’s gone. Fresh water I can replenish but food, no. I have enough onboard to keep me living for a year but I do have to ration the “treats” I have stowed away. As much as I would like to fill the boat with an extra case or three of Guinness or Coca cola there came a time when putting stores aboard that we had to stop.

When I left Falmouth Elsi was well down on her waterline and there comes a point where enough is enough. It’s always the problem with a smaller boat. If Elsi were 40′ long I could fit an extra half-ton of stores no problem. If she were 50′ long two tons of stores spread round the boat would be barely noticeable and would make little difference to the speed. But a ton of stores and supplies on a 31′ boat makes a definite difference to her waterline and to her performance especially going into a head sea. So I’ll have to resort to rationing and have my treats as and when.

But maybe when you can only have one can of beer or one Mars bar a week then you enjoy it all the more and savour every mouthful. When I get back I’ll either be a complete convert to rationing or else pig out for a week!

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