Saturday, June 26, 2021
Headed to 45 45
Latitude 42o 44’ N
Longitude 59o 47’ W
(2108 nautical miles to Fastnet Light)
We input data into a computer log after each watch. These data let us keep track of critical information such as whether the barometer is rising or falling, when to charge the battery bank, and who’s cooking dinner. The later changes every day.
The designated chef is not only responsible for making dinner, but also for preparing lunch and cleaning up whatever mess is created in the process. Claiming not to know how to cook does not earn an exemption. Long ago and far away in the South Pacific, Dick Hiatt, despite his claim to being epicureanly challenged, earned the respect of the crew by preparing a mean Dinty Moore Stew. (Two cans are currently on board in Chief Hiatt’s honor and may serve as our gala arrival banquet upon our entering the waters of British Isles.)
This first week, the meals have benefited from the availability of fresh supplies stored in the engine driven refrigerator/freezer in the galley and the two mesh hammocks swaying in the midship salon. So far the dinner menus have included shrimp and grits, chili con carne, baked haddock, green chili stew, jambalaya, and sauteed salmon. Next week we’ll transition to clams and linguine, curried chicken, spaghetti with Paul Neuman’s sauce, tuna casserole, black beans, and other combinations of goods with long shelf lives. These are all supplemented by a shopping cart’s load of healthy and unhealthy snacks from Sam’s club. Good food is key for morale.
At 8 pm, after dinner is finished, begins a sequence of three-hour watches to carry us through the night. At this time of year and latitude the hours of darkness are less than eight and a half. The first watchman witnesses the sunset, and the third one sees the dawning of the new day. And while it lasts, the mid-night watch travels under moonlight.
In general, steering the boat is done by a mechanical autopilot which is a Rube Goldberg collection of pullies, ropes, a wind vane, and a hydrofoil that flop back and forth and turn the wheel. It is surprisingly effective such that, except for the first night with its squall line, standing watch amounts to sitting in the captain’s chair, reading a book, listening to music, tweaking the autopilot and scanning the horizon for the occasional far away tanker that passes by in the night.
We know that there will be more nights like the first, but right now it’s perfect sailing with the Gulf Stream pushing us along at nearly 8 knots.