Line drawing of a trimaran similar to Maya

Any Way the Wind Blows

19th February 1976 - Farewell to Africa

After our superb African detour, just over two months later than intended, we are on our way to the Caribbean. This morning Anthony went ashore to do the last minute shopping while we topped up the water tanks. When he returned with the bread, milk and vegetables we cast off the mooring lines and motored away from Banjul before hoisting the sails. The sails filled and the boat picked up speed. Yesterday’s doubts were blown away as the wind blew us away from Africa. I expect quite a few of the forthcoming days to be like quite a few of the other forthcoming days, so I may not write every day, but only when I have something to say.

20th February 1976 - A good start

The first day we made 148 miles, which isn’t bad going. There is still no sign of the North East trades. The winds have changed from North West to North during the night, so we have been able to set the course we want, but we are butting into the seas which makes for an uncomfortable ride. We are all feeling seasick, but Anthony is the only one to actually have been sick, so far.

21st February 1976 - Changing bunk

At the end of the second day we have done a total of 323 miles, almost an eighth of the distance. It looks like it will be a fast but uncomfortable crossing. The seas are still rough but we are all getting used to it and feeling better now. The ceiling above my bunk has sprung a leak, so every time a wave breaks over the boat some of the wave finds its way into my mattress. I have moved to a settee berth.

22nd February 1976 - Bonus miles

We have now logged 476 miles which is very good going. Mike managed to get a radio fix and do some star shots today. It seems we have actually gone 80 miles further than the log shows, 556 miles in all. If this keeps up we will have lots of food left over when we arrive. The seas are still rough and my bunk is completely unusable.

23rd February 1976 - Frying fish

Woke up this morning and discovered six dead flying fish in the netting. They had obviously mis-timed their flights. Seemed a pity to waste, so we fried them. Considered opinion - don’t eat flying fish. The log now shows a total distance covered of 638 miles, which, with our bonus eighty miles, puts us over a quarter of the way there. The sea’s are a lot calmer now, though they are still rough.



24th February 1976 - Greenwich Mean Time

According to a star shot we have now travelled 905 miles, well over a third of the way. On a boat the main clock tends to always be set to Greenwich Mean Time. If a clock is continually adjusted it becomes more inaccurate. Even if a clock loses or gains time it tends to be left, with the difference being noted and added or subtracted as needed. The tables used to calculate position from a star sight are all published in Greenwich Mean Time, so the calculations are easier if that is the time shown on the clock. It does mean that as you change time zones, boat time and real time no longer match. The night watches have changed to eight o’clock in the night till eight in the morning, because our westerly progress has changed the hours of sunrise and sunset. It is weird the clock and the time of day not agreeing.

25th February 1976 - Needlework

The log now shows 993 miles, so with extras we we already know about we have cleared our first thousand miles. I am getting really fed up with the jeans that I bought just before I left home. I have had to re-sew the seams on one or other of the pairs about once a week. Now the material has torn on one pair so I have had to patch them. First stop in Trinidad, somewhere to buy new jeans.

26th February 1976 - Trade wind sailing

Sailing in the Trade Winds
Trade Wind Sailing
We seem to have settled fully into the trade winds now, sailing under gull-winged headsails and with fairly smooth seas. The log now shows we have covered 1,150 miles, but, according to a fix we have covered over half the distance, 1,380 miles in 7 days. A fantastic average of just under 200 miles per day. We have used remarkably little water so far, about half the expected amount. We can’t pump water out of the main tanks anymore as one of the pipes has broken. Of the ten jerry cans of water we started with we are only on our second. At the speed we are travelling it is unlikely that we will empty all of those before we arrive. If we do then we will have to pump water from the main tank into the jerry cans, back-to<-front from normal.

27th February 1976 - A wash

A wash may not seem like a big deal, but it is for us. We are going so fast and have been using so little water that we have decided we can use a small amount for personal hygiene, which means we can have the first wash for a week. Bliss. The patch I put in my jeans lacks somewhat in finesse but seems to be serviceable. The log now shoes a distance covered of 1,332 miles, but with no fixes today we don’t know how far we have really gone.

28th February 1976 - The last thousand

1,516 miles by the log, but a fix yesterday shows an extra 200 miles on top, so there is about 1,000 miles to go. I was on watch this morning. It rained. My crew mates did keep me supplied with hot drinks, but no one volunteered to take over. There is some talk of stopping at the island of Tobago, slightly before and on the way to Trinidad.

29th February 1976 - Centreboard troubles, again

On the last bit of our journey to Trinidad we shall have to go against the wind, which means tacking. Unfortunately our centreboard is jammed again, which will make tacking very difficult. Fortunately, to stop at Tobago we should not have to tack. So we will stop there first and fix the centreboard. As we go right past it anyway it would be silly not to. The log now shows a distance covered of 1,686 miles, but working on from yesterdays fix gives us 1,920, a mere 660 miles to go. I just hope that once we stop at Tobago Mike does agree to go on to Trinidad. He does seem to like long long gaps between voyages.

1st March 1976 - Writing letters

It looks like today is going to be our third nice day, one being yesterday and the other being the 27th. The log now shows 1,846 miles covered, so we have probably done in the region of 2,060, almost there really and only twelve days at sea. One good thing about sailing, it gives you both the time and the inclination for letter writing. Yesterday I started three letters, and today I shall start three more. I think I have probably written more cards and letters in the last four months then I had in my entire life before leaving England

2nd March 1976 - The amazing Hasler

Hasler Self Steering Gear
Hasler Self Steering
The log now shows we have come 2,014 miles, which actually means 2,228 or thereabouts. Yesterday we picked up a radio beacon from Georgetown in Venezuela, so we must be almost there. We anticipate arriving tomorrow or the day after.With our transatlantic voyage almost complete it occurs to me that I have never introduced the hardest working member of our crew, the ingenious Hasler self steering gear Hasler_self_steering Once the boat is sailing in the correct direction a wind vane, different sizes available for different wind conditions, is inserted into a holder at the top of the gear and rotated so that the wind blows straight past it. Ropes from the gear are then attached to the tiller. As the boat drifts off course the surface of the wind vane is exposed and the vane is blown over. The further off course the further over it is blown. This turns a small rudder in the water which causes the whole gear to rotate. A system of pulleys means that this rotation pulls one of the tiller ropes, turning the main rudder to bring the boat boat on to course. As it comes back on course the wind once more blows straight past the vane stopping the turn. The main problem with the system is that it keeps your course relative to the wind, and of course the wind changes direction which can mean the boat can end up heading the wrong way. There is always someone on watch though, so if that happens the wind vane is adjusted until the boat comes back on course. We discovered yesterday that it is possible to bake bread without an oven, but we only had two packets of bread mix so it was just a pleasant change.

Anne - All sounds very complicated and a bit haphazard to me! So how did you bake the bread!
Me - To see it working was amazing, pure genius. Unfortunately I can’t remember how we did the bread.

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