Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Vigo to Las Palmas 3

Comment on our trip from Vigo to Las Palmas

We started off taking 4 hour turns at the tiller, but at night, after a couple of nights, we discovered how hard that was. Sitting there in the dark, hanging onto the tiller and steering, watching the compass, time passes extremely slowly, it was cold as well. The only way I could get through it was by having one of the packets of sweets we had taken with us, (fruit gums or blackcurrant pastilles usually) rationing myself to one sweet every 15 minutes, so that the time passed in 15 minute blocks.

I would also sing every song that I knew, Beatle’s songs were my favourite, but once I had exhausted them and other popular songs (which was usually pretty quick as I could never remember all the words, just the chorus) I would then sing all the hymns I had learnt at school, as having repeated them so often, I knew the words better. I’m not sure how Sim managed to sleep through my tuneless singing! After a few days of this, we decided that it was too much and made the night watches only 2 hours long, you’d just drop off to sleep and it felt like you’d hardly had any, before it was your turn again.

Once again, we still couldn’t figure out what was wrong with our celestial navigation, we couldn’t be where some of our sights put us. We had almost reached the point where we would have to turn east and head for the coast of Africa rather than being carried beyond the Canaries with nothing between us and Antarctica except the Cape Verde Islands, when we woke up that morning and found the boat covered with red dust. Again, someone must have been watching over us. Luckily Sim is an eclectic collector of knowledge and knew about finding the null on the radio to help us steer to Las Palmas.

We did eventually work out what was wrong with the aid of a Swedish yachtsman we met in Las Palmas. He explained that we were reading the sextant wrongly and showed me how to do the calculations, which I took responsibility for the rest of our journey, as Sim’s calculations would never come out the same twice. After Las Palmas, we never had any problems with navigation as long as we could see the sky to take sights.

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