20 December 2013

Well, that’s us in the Southern Hemisphere. We crossed the equator about 0330 GMT this morning at around 25ยบ 25’W. There would have been about 3500nm on the log at the time. This will be our fortieth day out from Falmouth so that’s roughly 87.5 nm per day of an average. So far everything has been going very well really. I haven’t had to do any sail repairs yet. The mainsheet horse developed a crack and one of the headsail leads broke off but apart from that it’s all been fine.

As a treat Alyson bought two legs of Spanish ham for me to have onboard. They are a couple of real big trotters, one is 7kg and the other is 10kg. I had been saving them and to celebrate crossing the line I thought I would open one of the hams and have a good feed tonight. But…..they have been in plastic inside the linen wrapper and have gone damp, I wouldn’t say mouldy, but damp. I actually thought they were shrink wrapped inside the linen and they would last longer to keep them in their original wrappings but that’s not been the case.

They don’t smell too bad, a sweetish smell almost as if they had been coated in honey. I have them out on deck right now trying to dry them a bit but I’m not sure if direct sunlight is good or bad for them. I cut off a slice to taste. Instead of being dry inside the fat was still glistening and moist and so was the meat. I tried a bit. It was tough but didn’t look or taste too bad. The meat was still a fine reddish colour and I’m hopeful I’ll be able to salvage most of it.

I won’t keep them in the plastic any longer. I’ll put it them back in the linen bags with maybe an extra pillow case over the top.

For lunch instead I had a tin of tuna salad. It was all carories and will keep the life in me but it was as wet and tasteless as you might imagine a can of tuna salad to be. Thankfully I only have four of them onboard so I might eat them all over the next few days to get rid of them.

The wind picked up a bit now to become a SE F4 most of the time. I’ve set a staysail along with the Genoa and we are making about 5kts just now. The old square-rig men used their older gear in the Trade winds and saved their heavier canvas for the higher latitudes of the south.
To an extent I’m doing the same here. The headsails sheets I’m using are the original ones from when Elsi was first launched. I’m fairly careful to watch them for chafe and to be sure they are not perfect now but they are still holding the strain of the two headsails.
I’ve end for ended them a few times and cut off some bits but they will do a few miles yet. My new sheets are below waiting for their turn.

The halyards are different. They were all renewed in 2006 and they have all been renewed again before this trip. The spare ones I carry with me. It’s easy enough to see wear on a sheet and sort it but not so easy to re-run a halyard at sea, especially if it breaks.

There may not be many sail changes in the next two weeks as we will probably be on the port tack all that time and should have the reasonably steady winds of the SE Trades to blow us further south. But then…the NE Trades were all feet up and fickle so we won’t take anything for granted just yet. It’ll be what it’ll be.

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