The Kamikaze fish struck again. It was shortly after the President of Ireland's congratulatory telephone last Friday morning. His call, almost immediately on completion, was also followed by a tropical squall of 30 knot winds as we enter ' home waters' with only 3,000 miles to go.
The squall left us struggling for control - as we approached the edge of the Doldrums on the way in - but the blast of tropical wind moved on as quick as it came, while the Flying Fish persisted in attacking.
When they hit the decks. I though it was gunfire. Like pellets from a shotgun blast, they jumped through the waves - expecting something different - and get a rude shock to land our ocean real-estate. Drowning on our decks ( this is what happens fish out of water) they stayed to be cook alive and die, in mornings sun.
Since, we have negotiated our way out of the Doldrums - which lasted for only about 100 miles- and had a clean exit. Likewise these flying fish are a sure sign that you are getting into the trade winds, as we head north west, in a steady 20 knots - leaving the Caribbean to port and the Cape Verde Islands to Starboard.
Our direction is way off course to where we want to go. However, as we move north west, the trades gradually veer to the east allowing us to gradually track around to the north. And then, not going further east than 40 degrees East and from 30 North we will hit the west side of the Azores High.
Then we pick up the prevailing westerlies take us to the finish at Le Sables d'Olonne - I hope before Easter in time for some chocolate and Easter eggs. Now down to water, dehydrated foods and food supplements all the sweet things and food on the margin has been eaten and food is scarce.
It has been like entering a different planet since rounding the corner at Recife on the north east corner of Brazil. One was hot, headwinds and slow progress. The other has been cooling trade winds and off wind sailing and the magic of crossing the equator.
Meanwhile its "champagne sailing" on the edge of the beautiful Caribbean ocean. We have steady cooling trade winds, mentioned previously to be moving more around in our favour as we make progress directly north. Its days like this that make the pain on other days bearable, and makes it all worthwhile and great to be alive .
It is indeed a privilege to have command of a ship like this on the ocean. Sometimes we want the voyage to go on forever and other times, there is an urgency to ' get off " and resume shore life.
One complication is the amount of surface floating seaweed. It keeps snarling our hydro - generator which charges the batteries. Between the self-steering,, the computer system and navigation lights at night and water de-salination, power supply is important and I have to watch this and constantly clear the weed. However, as one might say this is a "First World" problem.
And while I am sailing conservatively, I do want to get home in time for Easter. So the boat is well powered up and I have 3,000 litres of water or about 6,400 lbs in weight on the side to keep the boat balanced. This is the same has having over 30, 100 kilo men on the weather-rail!
The boat has 12 water ballast thanks in all. Six on either side and they are configured for either going up-wind, down-wind or reaching or some combination in between. As you can imagine filling and managing these thanks in a complex task in itself and this part alone - transferring water from one side to the other - in a tack takes about 20 minutes and a lot of pipe opening and closing and suction.
Finally, in the last log I mentioned the ATLANTIC Youth Trust Charity. ( atlanticyouthtrust.org) For those who have contributed, thanks. It will go a long way in the charity seed funding for the youth development vessel - now at a crucial stage. Its something we should all be passionate about in " putting something back in".
In particular the object is to build the best such youth program in the world from incredible R&D work done to date. There are various benefits from contributing and its tax deductible. So if you have not done so, please consider it at teamireland.ie/donate. And for clarity, all funds will go directly to the registered charity. Thanks in anticipation.