Monday, March 05, 2012

Well, I am on shift again and it is 9 at night. We are motoring in dead calm conditions, the sea is so flat that you could see your reflection like it was a mirror. A freighter just went by to the south of us, we are within 100 nm of Sri Lanka and we have about 200 nm to go to get to Galle, where we will enter the country. I imagine we will be seeing more freighters and fish boats the closer we get, all the traffic from the Med. headed for the Far East take this route and just skim the tip of Sri Lanka headed for the Malaka Straits and Singapore. 
Speaking of fishing boats we were slowly sailing along today and a fishing boat appears on the horizon. As we get closer he turns and starts putting up a bow wave coming towards us. I get out the binoculars and see someone waving from the top of the boat. What to do, we are on the high seas heading into pirate country and a lone boat makes a beeline for us. Fortunately, others have told us that mostly it is just fisherman wanting cigarettes, sure enough, that's what it was. Neither Barry or I smoke and it has been proven to be dangerous to your health so although other cruisers stock up on tobacco products for trade and barter we never have. I bought a flat of Coca Cola for just that purpose. The guys (there were 6) onboard did not look too happy that we didn't have cigarettes for them and were even sadder when we said we didn't have beer but they took the Coke anyway. We were given 4 small bonito in exchange, a pretty fair deal all around. I cooked up one for my supper and it was delicious.
I thought I would let you know what a day on passage can be like. Most of the hours of darkness are taken up with sleep, one of us tries to get into bed at 1800 hours or 6 PM, he/she gets up at 9, does a 4 hour shift, to bed at 0100, back on shift at 0500 then depending on how you slept back to sleep again at 0800 for as long as you can. This sleeping between the 2 of us takes up 14 hours of the day each of us having the potential of 7 hours of sleep which in reality is usually about 5 1/2. We sometimes nap during the day. Yesterday I was inspired to design and print new boat cards, we have a small printer/scanner/fax on board that miraculously has survived in the marine environment for over 5 years and we can still buy cartridges for it, that took me about 3 hours. Barry and I had 2 games of scrabble. I am trying to teach myself to play the recorder, I can read music and have directions for the fingering so all I need to do it practise. I have 2 hymn books on board so I page through them looking for hymns in the key of C (no sharps or flats, I am not very good at those yet) and then I murder those poor hymns for about 10 minutes each until they kind of sound like they should, then I try to play them faster and mostly I fail miserably. At least only Barry is being subject to this torture, there is not another soul within 100 miles most likely. Today's project was to get our new sail cover to fit on our boom. We gave the wrong dimensions to the sail maker so that the bottom of the cover which was supposed to slide into the track on the boom was too loose and would not stay in the boom. We have some extra slides on board so in order to get them to fit on the boom Barry had to cut a section out it with our handy dandy Dremmel tool (Thanks GEORGIE. Once he had done that we discovered the slides were too big, out came the file and the Dremmel again and we filed off about 3 mm of hard plastic off of 11 slides. Then I sewed them onto the sail cover. The first one I made sure it was really going to stay on and made a thorough job of it. We tested it out and sure enough it was in the wrong spot, out come the scissors and I started over. In order to stitch these slide on, I have a palm which I wear around my wrist that has a bit on it that help to push the needle through the very tough plasticised fabric. Then I use a pair of pliers to pull the needle through the other side. I managed to sew on 4 slides today so I have a project for tomorrow. 
When we are motoring the boat sails itself, we put on the auto pilot and it steers to a compass heading that we set. All we have to do is look up every 10 minutes or so to make sure we aren't going to run into anything. When we are sailing we have to be a bit more vigilant because most times our wind vane in steering (in order to save on electricity and not run our batteries down with the auto pilot). When the wind vane steers it goes in the direction of the wind you have set it for. So for instance if you are heading 270 degrees or straight west all is good, until the wind shifts. The wind may veer 20 or 30 degrees and all of a sudden you are headed for Madagascar instead of Sri Lanka, OPPS! It would be necessary to adjust your sail trim and your wind vane so that you are once again headed in the correct direction. 
Okay, okay enough, I have not talked to anyone else but Barry and for 5 minutes every second night to another boat on Ham Radio for the last 10 days, so you are getting the benefit. The other things we have to do on board is cook, we take turns having our big meal about 1700 hours so we can get the dishes done before dark. Other than that we read an awful lot, I do cross word puzzles and sometimes play some computer card games. Oh yeah, we have to one occasion, rush up to the bow of the boat and watch the porpoises play in our bow wave, that has happened 3 times on this trip so far, someone reported whales close to Sri Lanka as well so we will have to keep our eyes peeled. I also log our position every day and post it to Yotreps so make sure you check it out on the side of the blog, just click on the link to our position. 
Okay the last little bit, who remembers Lotta Hitchmanova????? We are traveling across the Bay of Bengal and just to the north of us is, you guessed it, Bangladesh. For those of you too young to remember, Lotta Hitchmanova used to raise money for the starving peoples of Bangladesh, to my mind this was in the 70's. There were TV commercials galore exhorting you to send money. If I remember rightly poor old Lotta was later convicted of fraud or some such thing. Does anyone else out there remember her? Please let me know and if you can find out, what era it was. Badabadabadab......that's all folks.