December 1993 - Los Christianos to Hog Island

1 December 1993 Los Christianos, Canaries
Craig reminded Glenys that it is time to start opening the advent calendar (God knows how he knew!) I worked out how much we have spent in November and I am astounded that we have only spent £763 pounds. We have done 6551 miles since we left Ipswich. I checked the rigging in the morning and we went into town in the afternoon to do some heavy shopping. We went to “Chintoo” for dinner. Brett started running a bit of a temperature.

2 December 1993 Los Christianos
Both Brett and Craig are a bit under the weather today. We spent most of the day getting a load of shopping (gas, drinks, etc) and ferrying it all back to the boat. Craig went to sleep in the afternoon. We had a quiet dinner by ourselves - roast lamb followed by chocolate pudding and custard - great!

3 December 1993 Los Christianos
I got quite a few jobs done today. Glenys has now come down with flu and all three of them have temperatures. Brett and Craig slept half of the day. It’s a holiday on Monday, so we filled up with fuel.

4 December 1993 Los Christianos
Glenys and the boys are feeling better, but I’ve now got the cough and I feel lethargic. We went to town - Glenys went shopping and I took the boys to the beach. John arrives tomorrow and it’s getting exciting now. “Chintoo” left this morning for the Caribbean, so we are keen to get going. I went to bed at eight o’clock after lounging around all day feeling sorry for myself.

5 December 1993 Los Christianos
We had a bad night. It was rolly so Glenys and I could not sleep properly. Glenys still has a bad cough and slept in the saloon for most of the night. I feel OK this morning and the boys are OK apart from a slight cough.

We tidied the boat up and gave it a good airing ready for John’s arrival (we don’t want him catching this flu!) Brett and I caught a bus out to the airport and met John. We got a taxi back because the return bus was late. John says it’s minus 2° in the UK!

6 December 1993 Los Christianos to Gomera
Glenys and I went into town to buy provisions and get gas. John stayed on board and was subjected to an hour of UNO and Lego. We put the number 3 genoa onto the roller reefing, and motored across to Gomera. We saw quite a lot of pilot whales. We anchored in the main bay and found out that we can get water at eight o’clock tomorrow morning where the ferry docks.

The anchorage was very rolly. John, Brett and I walked around town which is very quiet and boring. We tried to re-anchor a bit further into the port, but we couldn’t find anywhere suitable. Ended up back where we started. It was very rolly, so we all went to bed at eight o’clock.

Glenys is going to write a diary for the crossing - we’ve agreed that we won’t read each other’s until we get there, so it should be interesting...

7 December 1993 Gomera to Grenada, West Indies (Day 1)
What an awful night, the boat was rolling 40° for most of the night. We went alongside the quayside first thing in the morning, and filled up with water without any problems. We were allowed to stay alongside for an hour while John and I took letters to the Post Office and got some more diesel. Glenys and I rang home and told our families that we were about to set off and we’ll be out of contact for at least 20 days. We then went back to spend a couple of hours tidying up.

Finally at midday (after a 10 minute jam butty break) we upped anchor and left. We had a 20 minute sail and then the wind died on us, so we had to motor until about five o’clock, when the wind picked up from the South East and we could just make about three knots. The wind was very light until half past nine when it suddenly picked up to South East 20. We had all sails up, so I dropped the main and off we went. Strange start to the voyage - I assumed that the lack of wind was caused by a wind shadow from the Canaries.

The sky is overcast and looks ominous. Unfortunately John has succumbed to seasickness, but is soldiering on. Everyone else is OK, but Glenys and I are snapping at each other - must be stress!

Glenys’ Diary. Today we took on water and spent the last few pesetas on chocolate in the ferry snack bar. We are all a bit edgy (apart from John), Neville and I snapping at the children and they in turn are doing their best to upset us. Brett acts really stupid when he’s bored, which only makes us more annoyed with him – I suspect that the journey will go more smoothly if he can be kept occupied.

8 December 1993 Atlantic Crossing (Day 2)
The wind picked up to 25 to 30 knots from the east with three to four metre waves. John and I abandoned our the four hour watch system because we had to concentrate on helping the Hydrovane (even with just a reefed jib). I slept very well, John grabbed the odd hour, Glenys was restless and of course the boys just passed out. The day started overcast, grey and cold. The forecast is for East 5 and North East 5 further south, so I rigged up the twin running poles and we continued sailing on a broad reach with just the hanked No. 3.

I can’t believe how resilient my stomach is - it must be from 10 days on rolly anchorages in Las Palmas and Los Christianos. I took a GPS fix at noon to work out our daily distance over the ground, which I’ll do every day. I am working out the distance travelled from the two lat/long positions.

Everyone is feeling a lot better today and wolfed down the roast chicken dinner that Glenys made. I went to sleep during the afternoon and felt a bit queasy when I woke up, maybe I spoke too soon! It was cold all day, but the night turned out clear and very pleasant. I put out both head sails with the roller reefing two-thirds out.

Glenys’ Diary. What a rolly night we’ve had. On my 9-11 pm shift, the boat was just drifting along with the sails slatting, then up pops the wind out of nowhere and, within 10 minutes, the main and mizzen were down, with a partly-rolled No. 3 jib! The wind still didn’t help the motion too much and I spent most of the night pushing Brett back uphill – I hadn’t bothered to set-up his lee cloth, only the one on the outside of the double bed.

The big rolls seem to come along in little groups of three and are a pain in the neck if you’re trying to do anything like wash-up or serve up dinner. All of us have felt queasy at various times today, and yet dinner was a success – chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans (success means an empty plate).

I feel a lot mellower today and Neville seems to be also, consequently the children haven’t driven us potty. They both had a siesta this afternoon – the constant motion is very tiring.

John seems to be mellow at all times, even when he’s about to throw up. I think he’s a calming influence on us all.

9 December 1993 Atlantic Crossing (Day 3)
The wind kept at 15 to 20 knots and backed up slowly to the north-east. The Hydrovane performed faultlessly all night. We had flashes of lightning in the clouds around us, but no real worries. We went onto three hour watches which worked well. Everyone is bright and cheerful this morning. Seas are moderate and we are rolling downwind with blue skies and 50 per cent cloud cover. The weather forecast is north-east 4 to 5 with good visibility. We started to take sextant fixes today.

I began my recorder lessons much to the annoyance of everyone else. The sun is shining and we are back in shorts!

I have hooked a couple of fish, but both got away. The last one was a 3 ft Dorado which pulled off the second hook that I had attached to the squid lure. I got the fish to about four metres from the boat when he got away. The wind picked up in the evening again, but soon settled down.

We have decided not to switch on any navigation lights, but flick the radar on at the change of watches (every three hours) to see if anything is within 24 miles of us. I reckon it will save us 30 minutes of engine running per day.

Glenys’ Diary. I slept much better last night, the motion seems to have calmed down a bit or perhaps I’m just getting used to it. Everyone had good appetites today and nobody complained of feeling ill. It has been sunny most of the day – Brett and Craig went on deck for a while with their harnesses on.

Craig has started saying “I’ve got nothing to do” – I think he has twigged that something new comes out of my secret supply when either of them says something like that. I gave Brett a new book to read which probably lasted about 15 minutes – his ability to read now is frightening. Perhaps I should let him start on Lord of the Rings!

Neville has started learning to play the recorder – I don’t know how many friends he’ll have by the end of this trip. I’ll try to do some schoolwork with Brett tomorrow, depending on the sea state, or maybe some Christmas activity.

10 December 1993 Atlantic Crossing (Day 4)
It was a nice clear night with nothing around. I took a star shot in the morning which produced a very nice triangle, but was six miles North of the GPS fix. We think that it is due to the height of eye and the three metres swell. I had the hard night shift with 11 to 2 and 5 to 8 and I didn’t take advantage of my four hour rest this morning. Consequently I’m pretty tired.

There is a group of boats about three hundred miles ahead of us (Amatuana 2, Timana and Adagio) who we are keen to catch. We had a pretty good run during the day, still with goose-wings. The sun was so hot that we had to put the awning up just after lunch. We put out the jelly belly lure but didn’t get a single bite. My recorder playing is coming on all right - I’m now playing small tunes which I’m sure is excruciating to the others when I get it wrong!

We decided to make a little more West as it sounds like there will be less wind below 20°N. We have settled into the watch system which works well. Glenys gets a full night’s sleep and only does a watch from nine to eleven. This means that she is free to cook and look after the boys. The rest of the day is split into three hour watches and rotates every two days to swap the graveyard shifts between John and me.

Glenys’ Diary. The night seemed to be fairly rolly with more wind than during the day – I had to get up at one point and stuff a towel against the emergency rudder under Craig’s berth which was clunking backwards and forwards.

I managed to do a lesson with Brett, but not in as much detail as usual - it’s rather difficult to practise handwriting on the move. John found a letter from my mum in his luggage, fortunately there was nothing needing a reply before we set sail. It sounds like Gareth will be in Grenada from 3 January which will be just about the time we’ll be arriving there – I can’t wait to see him and Fi again.

Neville’s attempts at catching a fish have been extremely unlucky – talk about the one that got away! His efforts with the recorder are somewhat better, although I wish he would go up the front to practise. Brett had a go and produced some decent notes, but I don’t think he’s all that interested. He said he wished he could just play without having to learn!

I must have a go at painting the Grenada flag in the next few days. Also, I need to sew up a sheet sleeping bag for Neville.