The bird and the grasshopperUlric E5
12/10/2009, 1,350 nautical miles North of Recife, Brazil
Peter and Ulric working on the foredeck (Hans)
Late afternoon on Queen's Ransom III; I am sitting reading comfortably on the aft deck as conditions are lighter today. A grey bird is flying alone close to the boat. Sometimes it is only centimeters away from the sea. It makes loops around the boat. I am woken up from my "Around Alone" book and study it instead. It is so far from any land; almost 500 nautical miles. Who are you? Where are you going? When did you last see land?
The good news is that our stowaway, the grasshopper, is alive and well. I found him again when preparing the staysail for hoist. I decided to do without the stay sail for the night. How could I upset his comfortable and safe resting arrangements. I am not sure Hans is right when claiming that grasshoppers have small brains; this one has made all the right decisions for survival on top of deciding on the right boat to cross the Atlantic with. Peter named him "Benny" today after the cricket Benjamin; apparently a friend of Mickey Mouse's.
After some discussions, I took the decision to being cautious and lowering the gennaker at darkness. We poled out the genoa to leeward instead. This gives us less speed, but a more direct course to Barbados. The wind has generally been lighter today; struggling to pass the 15 knots mark. We had a small equipment failure in the form of a screw working itself loose of our spinnaker boom downhaul block. It is always scary when you find an unidentified screw on deck. Except for that screw all is well on the equipment side including our slightly temperamental generator.
Hans, the far best cook among us, was making dinner tonight. It was slightly spicy for a Swede like me, but still very good. Peter is convinced that we are eating better with our 2-3 course dinners and still fresh ingredients than the vast majority of boats on the Atlantic; barring superyachts with their own gourmet chef. He is probably right. For the first time for three whole days and nights we see the lights of another boat after dinner. We had got pre-warning on the AIS of the Japanese fishing vessel Taiwamaru No. 78 getting as close as 8.5 nautical miles South of us. The last few days, we developed a tradition to listen to Swedish pop music from the eighties after dinner. Poor Hans! Tonight, we had Adolphson and Falck; "Blinkar Blå" filling the ear waves on the little part of the ocean that we borrow at this moment.
We are well into an area of the sea called the Gambia Abyssal Plain; referring to the flat sea bottom some 5,000 metres below us. Next it will be crossing the "Researchers' Ridge" or the "Vema Fracture Zone" depending on our North/South position. We are quickly approaching our half way point, both exciting and a bit sad as I enjoy the sailing so much.