3 January 2014

Alyson sends me in emails everyday (over the radio, I have no internet access) to keep me up dated on what’s happening at home and away.

At 2200 last night I heard the Genoa flogging in the lee of the mainsail. I got up on deck and had a look round. There were two options. I could either pole it out and run goose winged or drop it completely. Dropping it would mean a loss in speed of about a knot but Elsi often runs smoother with only the mainsail up. Poling the sail out puts a lot more strain on it. I dropped the Genoa and as I pulled the halyard to me to unclip it I saw it was badly chaffed where it ran through the mast sheave. It was just as well I hadn’t poled it out.

This morning I slipped out enough length to get the halyard inside the cabin and checked it over. The halyards are all braided rope. The outer sheath was broken and the core was exposed. At home I would have tucked in the core and put a good lashing out over it all. But here, if it were to break in a month’s time it would be a serious problem. I have a bit of spare length on the halyards so I cut off the bad bit and re-tied and lashed the thimble back in place. The halyards were all spliced before but this will be fine. I’ll have to keep a close eye on it in future.

With one spin of our planet the sun has passed from the south to the north of us. At noon yesterday I was pointing my sextant at the southern horizon to find our position and today I’ve had to turn right round and face to the north. We’ve helped a bit by sailing south but it would have passed us in any case. It’s on it’s way north for the Shetland summer! From now until September next year it will rise and pass over us and set always to the north of us. When we will pass it on its way south once more we’ll be in the South Atlantic again heading home.

Our noon position was two miles south of the Tropic of Capricorn and that means we have passed out of the tropics. It should start to get a bit cooler from now on and that will be no bad thing. I like the sun as much as anyone but in moderation. It can be a bit brutal in this part of the world.
Although we’ll leave the tropics today the sun never does. It doesn’t like change and always weaves between the Tropic of Cancer at 23º 27’N and the Tropic of Capricorn at 23º 27’S. With the world around us changing as quickly as it does it is one of the few things we can absolutely depend on to be the same this year and the next ad infinitum.

The sailing is good today with a fresh wind and the sun highlighting the blueness of the sea and the whiteness of the many wave crests. We are rolling around a fair bit. Every now and then, while I’m writing this, Elsi will get hit by a lump of water that knocks us sideways and I have to stick my leg out to stop me sliding off the seat but are making good progress and that is the main thing.

Thanks very much to everyone who took the time to send New Years messages, it’s much appreciated.

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