Route du Rhum: Second day of breathless, squall conditions for Aurelia Ditton

Saturday, 18 November 2006

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 'Relax! Enjoy! Fish out the bikini!' Encouraged Bill my weather router. The only thing of note about Thursday was its spectacular sunset. Most of the day dragged along in a mulch of humidity, with myself stretched out down below trying to "rest." I had been warned of the light airs to come. My dread this morning was that today might pass much the same way...

It is my second day of breathless, squally conditions skirting the edge of the windless zone that's parked itself very inconveniently between me and the finish. Course leader 'Roaring Forty' has been struggling with it for longer, but judging by his last position poll, he may have escaped. I am crawling along at three knots.

Today the sun is packed away behind a matt of low woolly cloud. Bands of grey streaks extend from cloud base to the horizon sea line and warn of intense wind and rain. Like a true vigilante, I just sat out on deck through one, guarding the sheets, ready to ease.

The oven temperatures inside the cabin last night lured me into periods of deep and groggy sleep coloured with bizarre and perplexing dreams. I woke frequently. The wind picked up, died and changed direction like a tireless circus act. Launching from the nav station bench to the keel buttons, more than once I rescued the boat from the brink of an unwanted tack. It was a night of impotence, frustration and impatience; that my window of opportunity to take miles back from 'Roaring Forty' had been sapped away by the wind and that I was tracking south east, away from the finish.

While I may this morning have been preparing for another insufferable day of crawling towards Guadeloupe, by mid day UTC I was instead matching wind speed with boat speed, mashing to windward at 8-9 knots! Then my engine

died- at which point I concluded, 'Boredom is something that other people seem to have the luxury of experiencing!' Two squares on the panel were illuminated when the engine-off tone pierced the mellow slush music of water coursing by. One indicated that the water-coolant had overheated and the other spoke of no oil pressure. Until dark time came, I was on my knees with a set of spanners and a flat headed screw driver, leaving greasy paw prints on the furniture, on the deck, whenever my task was interrupted for a sail change or adjustment. Finally the engine erupted into life with a dry cough- still no water splurging out of the exhaust. At ten thirty at night, Dave from Marine Power, a Yanmar dealer in Bursledon, was still coming up with other good suggestions of things to check. I am currently sitting on the engine cover, which also the bench for the nav station. I am listening to the wonderful acoustics of the engine purring away, piling amps merrily into my battery bank. It was the impellor after all. It might have looked fine, but there was a fine crack just beside the brass screw which holds it in place.

Image: Sunset on Dangerous when Wet: © Aurelia Ditton


Last Updated ( Saturday, 18 November 2006 )