21 December 2013

Before midnight last night I was woken by a clack clack clack. The lashing, which holds the port side steering line for the Aries, had chafed through and the chain, which provides for adjustment between the two lines, was clacking around on the deck. I cut off a new length of line and we were back in business in no time.

The wind picked up for a time around 0300 and I had to take in a reef but it only lasted half an hour before lulling back down again to a F4.
We are in a position now to bear away a little more towards the coast of South America so that we are taking the wind and sea more on the beam rather than ahead of us, as has been the case for the past few days. It makes for a more comfortable motion and better day’s runs as well as the sea is helping us rather than knocking us back and slowing us down.

Today is the solstice, mid-winter for those in the north and mid-summer for those of us down here. The sun is at the farthest south it will be this year and the Antarctic has 24hrs of daylight. From today it will start climbing north again. Slowly at first and speeding up as it crosses the equator then slowing again as it reaches the top of its bounce on 21st June next year. The Simmer Dim in Shetland. It will pass overhead of us somewhere off the South American coast in January and from then on, until we are back in the South Atlantic next September, we will have to look to the north to see it doing it’s daily round.

I spent the morning putting some whippings on the ends of the halyards. There wasn’t too much spray coming over us so I could get the Spanish hams out again to try and dry off some more. There’s not much wildlife around apart from flying fish. I heard one land on the deck last night but he slipped out through the scuppers while he was still flapping around. I’ve seen them out of the water for about the length of a football pitch and there is some evidence to say they can glide upwards of 300 metres at times. As we get nearer to the coast we will probably see a bit more activity.

For something to mark our passage across the equator I got my two Burra Bear crewmen Tirval o’ da School and Andrew o’ Fuglaness, which the Hamnavoe Primary School and my sister put onboard, out on deck. We wrote out a message, stuck it in an empty wine bottle, wrote, “Open Me!” on the side and threw it overboard. The winds and currents should carry it to the north coast of South America or the Caribbean but who knows where it will end up.

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