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.

11 December 1993 Atlantic Crossing (Day 5)
We had a nice run during the night, but it was overcast for most of the night, with a few spots of rain occasionally. I listened to the Radio Net on 4483 KHz and the boats to the West are starting to run out of wind. It would appear to be better down at 18°N so we are heading south-west again towards my original waypoint of 18°N 30°W.

Before we started this passage, I wondered if it was going to be boring because of a lack of things to do. My day is actually rather busy - listen to the weather and other people’s positions, sextant sun shot and calculate, chafe check, midday position plot, off watch sleep, afternoon sun shot, plot sextant fix, sort out fishing lures, recorder lesson, dinner, bed at half past seven and up at 11 o’clock for the first night watch. I only get the chance to sit and read a book at night. I’ve now been banished to the foredeck when doing recorder practise.

We hooked another 3 ft Dorado in the afternoon on the black squid lure, but the damn thing got off. I’m going to try yanking the line to set the hook. We put the jelly belly lure out as well as the squid but no bites. We think that the jelly belly is too big. Everyone is well and relaxing into the way of life and we all have cast iron stomachs now. Brett and I had a shower this evening - first on the trip (luxury!)

Before we left Gomera, we filled up the water tanks and I closed off two gate valves which I thought would isolate the three tanks. I checked the two tanks under the saloon seats and the water has gone out of both - I’ll have to pull up the floor and investigate tomorrow.

Glenys’ Diary. This has been a day for just plodding away doing mundane jobs like washing up, cooking, making cakes with the kids (which increased my stress level about 100%!)

I gave Brett a Ladybird book of Gulliver’s travels which took him precisely one hour to finish. I shall run out of books very soon at this rate. I’ve started giving Brett and Craig some U.S. coins to save up, they don’t know what for yet – I may open a tuck shop tomorrow with comics and sweets.

We have made good progress over the last four days – Neville says we are a 1/5 of the way there; I like to think of it as nearly ¼! The motion of the boat is quite easy during the day when the wind is less. The wind seems to pick up at dusk along with the swell and we start surfing at anything up to 10 knots during the night.

It is becoming harder to wake Neville for his night watches – he really wants a full night’s sleep. It’s rather like having tiny babies all over again – they wake you up every three hours.

12 December 1993 Atlantic Crossing (Day 6)
Uneventful night. I had the hard shift and both Glenys and John are having trouble waking me up at the end of their watches! I did a star shot at half past seven which gave me a large cocked hat. The sea was large and the boat was rolling a lot. I don’t seem to be able to focus on the stars properly and there is so little time (10 minutes) to get the shots before the stars go in - it’s difficult balancing the sextant, torch, the watch, pad and pencil on a rolling boat in the dark. To do it properly needs another person to be watch keeper.

We are still making good progress, but it looks like light winds ahead - we are still aiming for 18°N, 30°W, but the wind is East and we can only just hold 250° with poled out jibs. During the afternoon the wind veered further to East South East, so we changed sails to main and poled out jib and headed South West to try and dodge the light winds caused by a shallow Low at 30°N 38°W.

At dusk we caught an evil-looking, long, black fish very similar to the Espadas in Madeira. It is only 2ft long but it has a couple of one quarter inch long teeth. Needless to say I beat it to death before I brought it on board! John managed to get two small cuts on his finger while examining the dead fish’s mouth! I put the mizzen out at dusk and we sailed on a reach with full sails all night.

Glenys’ Diary. What a bloody awful night! The boat was doing some awful lurching from side to side, and there’s a bad squeak in the block that the port jib sheet runs through. I woke up with a really sore/stiff neck and a niggly temper. The boys were awake before me and had already eaten their advent calendar chocolates and been given breakfast by John before I stumbled upstairs.

I did a lesson with Brett, and then cleared out one of the food cupboards which had got a vinegary liquid spilt on the floor. I suspect the bread starter had overflowed previously without my knowledge and has made the cartons of milk and wine rather soggy. Have put them upside down in the box under the table until needed, and thrown out the odd vegetables which have gone off. I am very disappointed in the lemons which I thought would have lasted the entire journey, but already half have disintegrated into green mould. The bananas have also finished – I’ve had to throw the last two overboard.

We started a wall collage of the nativity scene – seemed to keep the boys entertained for an hour. Then Craig and I had a shower after dousing his head in olive oil to try to get rid of his cradle cap. The temptation to just let the water run over me was enormous – I felt great afterwards and at peace with the world again. (At lunchtime, I was getting annoyed at the rest of the crew, because Neville and John seemed to be sitting on their backsides waiting for me to conjure up some delicacy in the galley.)

We had a glass of wine with dinner – now I know we must all be feeling better. We may even be fatter by the end of the trip than we were at the beginning.

13 December 1993 Atlantic Crossing (Day 7)
We had a good night sail averaging 5 knots on a reach. Very comfortable motion. I was entertained for 15 minutes by a small group of Dolphin (probably common dolphin) at about three o’clock in the morning. The flash of phosphorescent trails at the bow of the boat was very impressive. It was difficult to identify them because they went away if I shone the torch on them, but they had white undersides and were about 2 to 3 metres long.

It was a good decision to head further south because we are still doing 5 to 6 knots and all the others past 30°W have no wind. Our midday run shows that we have averaged 143 miles per day since we left Gomera which is really pleasing.

John went to the back of the boat to grab a bit of “personal space” and do bit of fishing with a rod. Brett and Craig heard him on the rear deck, instantly appeared, donned harnesses and joined him! I spent a couple of hours doing my music lessons which I really enjoyed. The wind died down late afternoon and picked back up again at dusk.

Glenys produced a wonderful meal of pizza with apple and cabbage coleslaw, tomatoes and garlic bread. This was washed down with a glass of Chateau cardboard rose and then followed by apple sponge. They’ll never wake me up for the eleven o’clock night shift!

Glenys’ Diary. A good steady breeze on a beam reach meant a good night’s sleep for me. As usual, I didn’t need to wake John for the 11 pm watch – he’s always up at least 10 minutes before. I had a crash course in using the sextant and apparently got it spot on with no errors – must be beginners luck! I’ll have another go tomorrow and see how I get on then.

I made an apple cake with four apples that have started to go bad. I’m disappointed how quickly the fruit and vegetables are deteriorating, especially things that I would have expected to last for quite a long time. We had a pizza for dinner which was fairly cosmic even though I say so myself – this will be repeated in approximately one week’s time.

14 December 1993 Atlantic Crossing (Day 8)
As predicted Glenys had trouble waking me up even though she gave me an extra hour in bed (I do love her!) Humid night and nearly warm. The wind backed to the East by five o’clock so I gybed the jib and main and mizzen and went on a broad reach on starboard tack. At 8 o’clock, John and I poled out the two jibs and dropped the main.

I did a star shot this morning and got the longitude right, but a latitude error of three miles too far North. I can’t pin it down to any consistent error, but I suppose three miles isn’t bad considering the difficulty of making star shot. Sounds like the others are getting some wind, but the forecast is only for 10 to 15 knot winds for the next week.

We finally caught a Dorado this morning. What a beautiful fish - all yellows, greens, blues and silver. It took about six whacks to kill it with the “Priest” (the bottom 15 inches of a pool cue.) Glenys has been giving Brett and Craig American cents as pocket money for the past few days and today she opened a tuck-shop with sweets and comics. It was a great success! I really do have busy mornings (eight o’clock off watch, sail change, breakfast, nine o’clock radio schedule, ten o’clock plot positions and astro calculations, eleven o’clock sail change, half past eleven kill and gut Dorado, noon fix, quarter past twelve on watch, half past twelve cup of tea!) Recorder lessons after lunch.

We hooked another Dorado, but it escaped just as John was pulling it over the transom. I’ll stop ribbing him about it in a couple of days. Glenys and the boys were busy making a nativity scene mural today. Glenys prepared the Dorado in a white sauce with creamed potatoes and petit pois and it was wonderful. All washed down, of course, with a glass of chilled rose. We passed the 1,000 mile mark today.

Glenys’ Diary. We caught a fish at last! Neville proudly pulled in a 3-4 lb Dorado this morning - needless to say I had to take a photo of him with it. We had another bite in the afternoon which John tried to reel in, but just as he got it close to the stern it slipped off the hook – poor old John, his face was a picture of disappointment.

Anyway, I filleted and skinned the Dorado and cooked it in a mushroom and cream sauce – delicious! I have threatened the men with faggots and mushy peas tomorrow night if they don’t catch something else during the day!

I gave Brett and Craig a nice surprise after schoolwork today – set up a tuck shop with comics and sweets and let them buy what they could afford with the U.S. cents I’ve been giving them each day. The first thing Brett bought was a kinder egg (surprise, surprise), then a comic and a few sweets. Craig did likewise and I then had a peaceful hour to myself.

15 December 1993 Atlantic Crossing (Day 9)
Another humid night. We had 15 to 20 knots of wind all night with quite a big 3-4 metre swell, so we were doing six plus knots and surfing at 8 knots. We’re running under the twin head sails with the wind about 40° on our starboard quarter. Listening to the radio this morning, it sounds like we’ve done the right thing by going so far south. The others at 19°N have got about 10 knots and some are flying spinnakers. We put the clocks back one hour this morning because the sun doesn’t rise until after eight o’clock and it’s depressing for the 5 to 8 watch (sod the time zones!)

It’s fascinating to watch the flying fish skimming the surface of the sea to get away from us. Every so often there will be a squadron of 10 or more which will fly for about 100 metres over the swell and down the troughs. One landed on the deck this morning giving John a chance to inspect it. Glenys had a disaster this morning, she was just refreshing her sour dough bread starter when a bigger roll than normal hit us and dumped one litre of the yeasty gunk on the floor and walls of the gallery. Needless to say she resorted to the vernacular. Unfortunately it will take another seven days to restart another one, so that she can bake bread!

While swilling the deck, I dumped some water through the hatch on to my bed and Glenys lost a bucket over aboard - I hope that’s our three disasters! Only 10 shopping days to Christmas. We caught a Dorado just before lunch, which saved us from the threatened faggots and peas.

Glenys’ Diary. This has not been a good morning for me. Perhaps it had something to do with putting the clocks back one hour – upset my biorhythms or something? Anyway, my first job after breakfast was to feed the bread starter as it had been nearly 10 days since it went in the fridge ready to make bread with. I had just poured it into a bowl and mixed the flour and water, turned to the sink for an instant and a huge roll caused the bowl to catapult off the work surface and splatter all over the engine room doors and then onto the floor – aargh!

I was not in a good mood, having thumped my hand against the work surface and hurled obscenities to the four winds and the sea. I rolled up the carpet and took it upstairs where Neville very kindly washed it down, while I mopped up the mess in the galley. Unfortunately, Neville in his enthusiasm to sluice down the decks was unaware that the centre hatch was wide open and a bucket of sea water sloshed down and onto his bunk! To cap it all, as I was finishing the last bit of washing up, the boat rolled heavily, filling my bucket completely and the ocean ripped it out of my hand. As I say, this was not a good morning for me.

However, we all cheered up when Neville landed another Dorado, thereby staving off the threatened dinner of faggots and mushy peas. It’s amazing how blue the Dorado is while still in the water. The one today was a real fighter, nearly slipping back over the side despite John’s attempts to kill it by bashing it over the head with the broken snooker cue that Brett has acquired along the way.

Brett and Craig have mostly done their own thing today, apart from ½ a lesson with Brett this morning, and a session of reading to them while Neville was trying to sleep this afternoon. It’s amazing the things they can make with Lego, and Craig can now follow some of the simpler plans in making a model. They both seem to have settled down to the routine onboard very well, although I try to keep one step ahead of them in thinking of the next thing to do to keep them amused.

Neville continues to practise on the recorder and is coming along quite well. I’ve noticed he turns on the engine for an hour, and does most of his playing during that time to muffle the sound a bit – how considerate. John has started playing a few Christmas Carols in the book with the keyboard, so I think everyone will be able to do a turn at the concert on Christmas Eve – “concert, what concert?” I think Neville enjoys having another man on board to talk to – they seem to share interesting snippets about the night watches, difficulties in doing sun/star shots, and relative prowess in landing fish.

I am writing this diary by torchlight on my night watch 9-11 pm as it is the only chance I get to do it. It is usually the only time I manage to read a book. If anybody asks what did you do all day for 20-something days, I shall reply that I never stopped, that there was always something else that needed to be done. P.S. During my bad morning, I also had to clean up after Craig who had done a poo in his pants – oi vé!

16 December 1993 Atlantic Crossing (Day 10)
We had another fast night going at six plus knots most of the time. It’s still very humid, but it’s getting warmer. I did a 3 star shot at dawn, which was difficult because of the swell and clouds. I’ve started to shoot all the stars as soon as I can and then repeat as the horizon becomes clear - when the stars start to disappear. I can then choose which shots I think are best. Unfortunately “Alkaid” disappeared behind clouds on the second pass and my first shot was so bad that my fix was a hundred and twenty miles away - I ended up using 2 fixes.

We had an UNO competition today. Craig was given a 150 extra points and saw his total of 349 just beat Brett’s 318 - the rest of us trailed behind. We gave both Brett and Craig a packet of Smarties as a prize.

I’ve been running the engine for one hour per day, putting in about 20 amp-hours. The wind generator probably puts in 10 amp-hours per day. I will have to run the engine for two hours tomorrow because I think that we are using slightly more than we are putting in. I’m still practising the recorder and I think I’m doing OK - the others may dispute that but at least I’m not bothering anyone else here in the middle of the Atlantic!

We’re on day 10 now and the monotony of the view and the endless routine is starting to get to me. We all get excited when we see a bird - so far we’ve seen Storm Petrels, and a few Lesser Crested Terns have tried to dive for our fishing lure. We decided that the “jelly belly” lure is useless, so we made a new lure from a blue and silver muppet and put “jelly belly” in the box. Within four hours we caught a Dorado on the new lure. Unfortunately, Glenys had already started dinner, so we are having sausage! At dusk we caught another horrible “Espada” on the blue muppet.

Glenys’ Diary. Another rolly night and day. Brett nearly bounced over his lee cloth and into my bed at one point. I did ½ lesson with Brett, then we had a serious Uno Competition.

I made and iced some little fairy cakes yesterday and this afternoon Brett and Craig had fun decorating them with some little icing pens I bought back in England. After plastering one cake with black, Craig decided he didn’t like the taste of it, so I had to eat it instead.

I had already got dinner on the go and started painting the Grenada flag (John couldn’t get one in England), when another Dorado fell onto the hook – a big one this time (about 8 lb). I was not very happy having to stop what I was doing, to go and show Neville how I fillet the fish, get sharp knives, and take a photo (how blasé we have become about catching fish, in just three days!) It was too late to cook the Dorado tonight - we dined on sausage with fried potatoes, beans and cheese sauce – good stodge food! I’ll have to dig out a new recipe for the Dorado tomorrow.

17 December 1993 Atlantic Crossing (Day 11)
Another fast rolly night with quite a lot of clouds around. We have a new moon which stays up until about 11 o’clock. We will have a full moon on the 28th just as we are approaching Grenada which will be nice. There is a small deck leak around the port centre cleat (or stanchion or window) which is running down the wall lining and onto the chart table and bookshelf. It’s not getting into the chart table and is only a minor wetness that needs wiping each morning. It’s interesting that everyone now spends more time sitting below chatting and doing things. At first, no one, (except the boys), could spend any more than 10 minutes below before coming up to stare at the horizon.

At the midday fix, exactly 10 days sailing, we have done more than 1,445 miles with, 1,388 miles to go. So we are over half way!! We’ve averaged 144 miles per day which is 6.02 knots average. The rolling has been bad for the last few days and we are all getting sick of it. The wind up at 19°N has veered to South South East and they are reaching - lucky bastards! Pretty damned hot at midday, so we put the awning up.

We had Bucks Fizz to drink at lunch to celebrate reaching the halfway point. Glenys made “Dorado Masala” for dinner, which was excellent. She is producing wonderful meals under arduous conditions and the efforts are greatly appreciated by John and me (the boys just want mashed potatoes and beans!)

John has not been sleeping soundly - he insists on waking himself up before his watch and normally gets up earlier than he needs to. I sleep until I’m called. I’ve decided to give John a rest from the watches and Glenys is taking over his night watch tonight. Unfortunately, he couldn’t be persuaded to sleep in the back cabin and will probably keep being disturbed by Glenys and me when we change watches. At least he doesn’t have to get up.

Glenys’ Diary. The boys were awake before me this morning, chattering about their dreams of the night and which door to open next on their Advent calendars. Craig is going to find it difficult after Christmas, adjusting back to not having a piece of chocolate before breakfast. I seemed to have lots of chores to do this morning – two loads of washing up, skinning yesterday’s Dorado, writing up yesterday’s log. Brett even asked me at one point if we were going to do any school work. Well, I couldn’t refuse, so we did a brief review lesson ready for a test in lesson No. 60, and then played a mindless card game of monsters in my pocket – yawn!

Neville announced that we are just over halfway to Grenada now, which brought on a cheer and a small bottle of champagne and orange juice immediately went into the fridge for chilling ready for lunch. If we can keep the same speed up, we should arrive in Grenada on 28 December.

I gave Brett another new book to read which took him about three hours on and off – it’s great to see him totally absorbed in his reading. I finished painting one side of my Grenada flag and it looks pretty good – I’m sure it will look no different from anybody else’s flag once it’s up at the crosstrees.

Dinner was a nightmare to cook today because of the nasty rolling that seems to have been with us all day. It’s beginning to wear me down, hanging on all the time and tottering around like an 80-year old. Washing up becomes a major struggle, leaving me sweaty and tired as though I had just done a 20-minute work-out at the gym.

Nevertheless, dinner was still very tasty, a fish masala with rice and nan bread, and the crew are always most appreciative of my efforts, knowing the hell I have to go through in the galley to produce them. There is still half a Dorado in the fridge, so I must look through the cook books for another recipe.

Tonight, John is excused from night watch so that he can try to catch up on lost sleep. I shall take his slot at 2-5 am. I know Neville can’t wait for his turn in a few days time – he really misses having an unbroken night’s sleep.

18 December 1993 Atlantic Crossing (Day 12)
I switched the radar on at midnight and saw a contact 8 miles behind us. We switched on the tri-colour, but an hour later I couldn’t see the contact again. The wind dropped to about 15 knots over night, giving us about 5 knots boat speed. I spent an hour trying to identify the stars to the south of us and identified the Southern Cross constellation, which I thought was pretty exciting. I did a star shot on 4 stars including “Gagrux”, which is part of the Southern Cross. The fix came out really well. John slept soundly on his night off.

Some time yesterday afternoon, we lost the blue and silver muppet, so I’ll have to make another. It turned out to be a really hot day, so after the normal busy morning, we relaxed under the awning. I tried to get a photograph of one of the squadrons of flying fish - I took three or four and then gave up not knowing if I’d managed to get a clear shot of one. The wind was fairly light until midnight, so we were only doing four or five knots - I don’t expect a record run today.

Glenys produced “Dorado Catalan” for dinner which, typically, was very good. We have run out of Dorado, so we need to catch another fish tomorrow. Glenys is magically producing new books each day for Brett and he sits down and reads them from cover to cover. He loves reading now and it’s hard to distract him from the book!

Glenys’ Diary. Brett did a test for lesson 60 and quite enjoyed it – he only got a few things wrong. He and Craig played happily for most of the day, creating new things with Lego. I painted some more of the Grenada flag – I may just have enough yellow to finish both sides.

I found another recipe suitable for Dorado, and made a kind of fish Catalan with tomatoes, white wine and green peppers, topped with sliced potatoes. I also baked some lovely white crusty bread – instant mix by Homepride which rose without any trouble.

We had the awning up for most of the day, as it was a real scorcher. The clouds built up later in the afternoon and by dusk we had a ring of clouds all around us on the horizon, but blue sky directly above. When I came on watch at 9 pm there was a sudden shower. Neville immediately jumped downstairs, asked me to pass everything down, put in the washboard and said “goodnight” – charming!

19 December 1993 Atlantic Crossing (Day 13)
Warm night, but we had several rain showers. At four o’clock in the morning I spotted a light and checked on the radar to find that it was 8 miles to our port. I tried to call it on VHS 16 with no response. It gradually overtook and passed in front of us, so I don’t know what it was. The wind picked up just after midnight and we averaged over six knots for the rest of the night. It sounds like the boats at 18°N have run out of wind again and are getting South West 10 or less.

The forecast is for good winds from tomorrow for a few days which is nice to know. I checked the oil and water on the engine and tightened the fan belt. The Adverc has been oscillating a lot over the past few days and I think tightening the fan belt has helped.

I did a Sun - Run - Sun fix and then we saw the moon, so I got a good three line fix today. I did three hours of recorder practise today - Glenys had a little go at me today for not helping her with the children and the chores (washing up.) I must admit that I haven’t done much with the boys, I’m busy in the morning and I feel so lethargic and tired in the afternoon.

I’m looking forward to my night off tomorrow - 11 hours of (hopefully) uninterrupted sleep. I was in bed at quarter past seven after our dinner of “Pizza Glencora” - with Dorado of course! No fish today, we had a brief bite but it soon disappeared. John caught another “Espada-thing” at dusk.

Glenys’ Diary. Another morning full of chores. I didn’t get started on Brett’s school work until 11 am – honestly, I don’t know where the time goes. I found an extra packet of Frosties tucked away at the back of a cupboard, so we may just have enough breakfast cereal to last until we reach Grenada. Disappointingly, one of the long-life packs of German bread has gone mouldy. Neville cheered, as he doesn’t rate the stuff at all. I made some egg and cress sandwiches for lunch, using cress which Brett started only four days ago – the stuff grows remarkably quickly.

I opened the tuck shop for a second time. Brett and Craig enjoyed spending all their cents on another comic and some sweets. I did some more work on the nativity mural with them, and only stopped when we all ended up in a sticky mess trying to stick sequins onto the turbans of the three wise men. I then had some time to myself to wash up from lunch, make dinner, tidy up a bit...

Neville belatedly offered to wash up, and got an earful from me about all the chores I have to do. The trouble is, we have been rolling badly the last few days and it is very wearing trying to do anything other than just sitting still reading a book or listening to the radio. However, I can’t ask Neville or John to help me much as their interrupted sleep is gradually wearing them down. If somebody asked me what was the worst thing about the whole voyage, I would have to say it’s the goddam rolling!

I finished painting the Grenada flag today – it now only needs ironing and hanging up outside to soften it up and tone down the somewhat garish colours.

20 December 1993 Atlantic Crossing (Day 14)
A few showers passed through during the night and the wind was 10 to 20 knots depending on the position of the squalls. We’re still running with two goose-winged jibs. The other boats at 18°N are still only getting 5 to 10 knots and we have now got to the same longitude as Chintoo - we don’t have an SSB so we can’t talk to them, which is frustrating. We have less than 1,000 miles to go and, if we can keep up our daily average runs of 144 miles, we should be there on the 27th December. There are only five more sleeps to Christmas and we began to play our Christmas Carol CDs today. John doesn’t seem to be very keen on Doris Day - says he is a “Guns and Roses” man.

I spent about three hours making Brett and Craig two small boats, decorated with Christmas paper, so that they could send their letters to Santa. We’ve told the boys that the Elves will see the boats, pick up the letters and deliver them to Santa.

I did extensive trials to make sure that they would float upright when launched. I ended up with a design made from a Frosties packet with a keel weighted by two stainless steel bolts covered in shiny, elf-green paper. The launching method involved me hanging over the side holding the boat by the thwart and dropping it about 1 ft as the yacht rolled. Both launchings went according to plan and Brett and Craig were pleased and excited.

We’ve spent the last few days building up to writing their letters to Santa. We had to make sure that they asked for the things that we’ve bought them, so there’s been quite a lot of discussion about how great it would be for Brett to get a Game Boy and how fantastic Ice Planet Lego is!!

A group of striped dolphins visited us briefly during the afternoon. I had a shower tonight - luxury! It’s my night off, so I’ve got 11 hours of uninterrupted sleep - double luxury! I got another “Espada - thing” at dusk - that’s three Dorado and four “Espada-things.”

Glenys’ Diary. I decided to have a quiet day today without pushing myself to do loads of jobs. Had a day off from teaching Brett, but practised a few carols with him for the concert, which has now been moved to Christmas Day so that we can record it on Craig’s tape recorder that he’s going to get as one of his presents. I tried to write out a programme with everyone ‘doing a turn’, interspersed with a few carols, and found it very difficult to remember the words after the first verse of each carol.

Neville spent a lot of time making little boats for Brett and Craig to send their letters to Santa in – after a couple of prototype launchings, he found the right shape and weight and proceeded to make two neat paper boats complete with weighted keels. The boys stuck in their letters to Santa, and the boats were duly launched to hopefully be picked up by Santa or one of his helpers, who are all expert navigators, didn’t you know?

21 December 1993 Atlantic Crossing (Day 15)
I started off sleeping in the back cabin, but I was rolled around all over the place because the two lee-cloths are not close enough to wedge me in. At midnight, a big roll sent me into the outer lee-cloth and the retaining bracket pulled out again. When Glenys went off watch, I swapped beds with her and slept on the saloon starboard berth - I slept like a log. The day’s run to midday wasn’t too bad at 141 miles and we passed the 2,000 mile mark. We have to run the engine for about one hour a day to put in 25 to 30 amp-hours. I think that we’re using the following power: overhead 5 amp-hours, instruments 4 amp-hours, compass light 4 amp-hours, domestic lights 3 amp-hours, GPS 1 amp-hour, fridge 10 amp-hours, total 27 amp-hours.

After lunch I was doing the washing up (yes, Glenys finally got me to do it!) and I noticed a shoal of tuna swimming in our bow wave. After watching for a few minutes, I got my spear gun and, to the amazement of the others, I managed to spear one! After a few more misses they seemed to get wise and kept away from the bow of the boat. They seemed to be catching small flying fish the size of dragonflies and entertained us for about half an hour - sometimes they would jump 2 to 3 ft clear of the water. Glenys produced tuna with pasta for dinner.

Glenys’ Diary. Neville had the night off last night as I was doing his 2-5 am slot. He tried sleeping in the back cabin but couldn’t wedge himself in firmly enough during the rolls, of which there were quite a few and rather nasty, as there was little wind at one point. He rolled against the lee cloth and pulled the fitting out of the wall! Next thing I know, I’m up on watch and he’s pinched my berth in the saloon. He slept soundly enough after that – I hope it’s helped to restore some of his reserves of energy.

I felt rather lethargic this morning – only did ½ a lesson with Brett and then left him and Craig to their own devices.

I would have had a quiet afternoon also, but Neville spotted a school of small tuna at the side of the boat, probably chasing the tiny flying fish which kept leaping out of the water and looking remarkably like dragonflies. Neville got out his spear gun and by a great stroke of luck/skill!? managed to spear a 3-4 lb tuna! Brett and Craig were very interested in its beautiful colours, and could feel its nerves still twitching even after the head and guts had been removed. I must say I found it a bit disconcerting to feel it still twitching while I was skinning and filleting it.

So, tuna was on the evening menu, with enough left to make another meal tomorrow night. Seems like the men have been spared faggots and mushy peas yet again!

Only 768 miles to go as of this afternoon – we may get there on the 27th. For the first time, Brett asked when we were going to get there. I think he’s beginning to be weary of travelling, of always being told to hold onto his plate, to be quiet because somebody’s trying to have a sleep and “I’ll play with you when I’ve finished …” Both the boys have been wonderful up to now – I just have to keep them occupied for another few days and then it will be Christmas.

22 December 1993 Atlantic Crossing (Day 16)
I had a really nice night, but John had trouble with a load of squalls. At one point he had about 5 knots of wind closely followed by 30 plus knots and heavy rain. We had a fair run until eight o’clock this morning, when the wind dropped to less than 10 knots and then we plodded along at 4 knots. John and I swapped the jibs around before lunch because the wind was coming from the North East. We have found that we get an extra half knot boat speed if we have the roller jib poled to windward. We think that this is caused by air being scooped down the back face of the inner jib, generating more lift. Also if the inner jib is to windward it causes a wind shadow on the luff of the roller jib.

Only three sleeps to Christmas. Glenys spent two hours cooking cakes on one of the hottest days that we have had - her temper was not good at the end. I had a quiet day today - reading and recorder practice. We’ve only got another 5 (or 6) days to go and I just want to get there now. I feel like I’m in limbo and I can’t be bothered to do anything. Glenys produced sweet and sour tuna for dinner.

Glenys’ Diary. The night seemed fairly quiet with not much wind, apart from John’s watch when the rain suddenly bucketed down, waking me up. I hurriedly closed the hatch and listened to the wind howling – just a squall going through. It’s surprising how changeable the weather is these last few days – lots of clouds, sudden showers, then blistering sun again. You would think that it would get windier, but steadier as we neared the Caribbean, but not so.

Lots of jobs to do again this morning. I made some little Christmas cakes with the boys so that they can decorate them and give them out as presents, followed by a huge batch of fairy cakes for us all to eat. This overran into lunchtime, so I got in a right mess trying to get lunch and continue to put another load of cakes in the oven. The logistics of it space-wise was a nightmare and I was cursing and sweating profusely by the end of it. The temperature has gone up a lot and it is now quite stuffy downstairs during the day if I am doing any cooking.

In the afternoon, I put on my swimming cozzie and poured several buckets of seawater over my head – it felt great. I rinsed out some undies in fresh water and hung them up to dry – this will be the only washing of clothes during the trip, and we should arrive with quite a bundle of dirty washing, even though everyone has been good about wearing the same clothes for a few days.

I baked some bread using dried yeast that can be added straight to the flour, and it turned out really well. Dinner was sweet and sour tuna with rice and very tasty too.

Neville and John reckon we have another five nights at sea – we must be getting close as they are both reading the pilot books for Grenada!

23 December 1993 Atlantic Crossing (Day 17)
Very quiet tonight. We averaged 5.5 knots boat speed. At seven o’clock this morning, John spotted a ship heading straight for us. He woke me up to tell me, but I’m afraid I just said OK and turned over. Ten minutes later the ship passed about quarter of a mile behind us at which point I got up and talked to him on the radio. The ship was “America” registered in Cyprus, on passage from Brazil to Norfolk, USA with a cargo of containers. They wished us happy Christmas and we did likewise. They were interested that we had children onboard and our destination.

Poor old John had a cloudless sky, but still didn’t get a star shot because of the excitement of the ship - I’ve offered to sell him one of mine for £20! It’s funny how paranoid I have to be about power - the VHF radio draws 0.8 amps on monitor, that’s 20 amp-hours per day. The radio operator on the ship was trying to call us for half an hour - we will have to make sure that we turn the radio on as soon as we spot another vessel.

It sounds like the boats at 17°N had a bit more wind than us last night - “Chintoo” is about 50 miles behind us (but 240 miles North). If we can maintain daily runs of 140 miles per day then we will arrive on the morning of the 27th. At midday the wind veered to South 8. We put up the main, mizzen and mizzen staysail and bashed and clunked along at 3 to 4 knots. During the afternoon, the wind backed to the East North East 12 and I gybed the main and mizzen, dropped the staysail and put up both jibs. We couldn’t put the awning up and it was blisteringly hot. At seven o’clock, the wind was North East 15, so we went on a broad reach with main, mizzen and jib poled out to port.

Glenys’ Diary. No school work today. Neville and Brett made a paper Christmas tree to stick on the door into the front cabin, then we all stuck on bits of shiny paper and ribbons to decorate it. Brett and Craig have also hung up various decorations in the back cabin, with more to follow tomorrow.Neville has been playing Christmas CD’s most of the day at a volume guaranteed to drive one to the foredeck with hands clasped over ears. John mentioned something about “humbug” at one point. One good thing about the day is that Neville has not been practising on the recorder.

I managed to get the washing dry despite threats of showers – I found it somewhat disconcerting to note that whereas Brett, Craig and I have gone through at least 8 pairs of pants each since 7 December, there were only 3 pairs of Neville’s underpants hanging out to dry.

I had a final closing down sale of the tuck shop this afternoon – everything cost 1 cent each, so the boys came away well pleased with their comics and pile of sweets. I don’t envisage the need to open shop again before reaching Grenada, since Christmas is only the day after tomorrow.

We are now bowling along again at 6-7 knots which should help to eat up the miles. The boats that we have been listening to along the way are beginning to arrive at their destinations now – “Vintage Port” should be in tonight. “Timana” and “Amatwana 2” in a couple of days, and “Chintoo” maybe a day behind them. We heard “Honey Hush” who have reached Barbados – Carol sounded so bubbly on the radio, completely different from the deadpan, weary voices of those still at sea.

24 December 1993 Atlantic Crossing (Day 18)
What a tiring night! By nine o’clock, the wind was over 20 knots and we reefed the main. An hour later, a massive squall hit us and we dropped the main in 30 knots and lashing rain. I put the main back up, but by three in the morning, it was back down under the onslaught of squall, after squall. It sounds like the others at 17°N 57°W have had the same, but the boats at 53°W and 60°W haven’t had any big squalls. I guess that we’ve got another 24 hours of this.

It’s Christmas Eve, the tree is made and the nativity scene is up on the wall - I just hope the squalls blow themselves out today. The squalls continued until about late afternoon then we settled down in East 15 with twin head sails. It was too cloudy and rolly to bother doing a sextant fix today. John and I were tired and slept during the day when we were off watch. The Hydrovane struggled a bit during the last 24 hours because of the high swell and the large variation in wind speed.

Glenys’ Diary. God, what a horrible night! It began on my watch about 11 pm, a couple of big black clouds rolled by causing gusty wind and some big swell. Behind them was a squall, a grey misty mass that when it arrived, caused a deluge of warm rain. I shouted for Neville, who came up and quickly lowered the main before the squall actually hit. Further lesser squalls occurred during the night, and some terrible rolling was going on, so nobody but the children slept well.

Neville spotted another ship and tried to talk to it on the VHF, but the operator wasn’t too communicative – he actually said “what do you want?”! As though it’s a common occurrence to meet lots of yachts on this barren stretch of water!

Spent the morning doing quiet things with the boys as Neville and John took it in turns to catch up on some sleep. The rolling and rain showers continued for most of the day – I could only manage to provide cuppa soups and bread for lunch. I hope tomorrow the sea is calmer otherwise Christmas lunch is going to be a disaster.

Neville has spent most of his waking moments keeping up the level of excitement over Christmas in Brett and Craig – Brett particularly is like a cat on hot bricks. Craig seems more blasé about it, but I suspect he’ll get upset about something he’ll be given tomorrow.

Neville checked the water tanks and reckons we’re pretty low, so showers were cancelled to be replaced by a quick wet flannel which we enjoyed almost as much. The temperature below deck is stifling and not helped by having to close all the hatches when a squall goes through.

Neville has done no recorder practise for two days now – I hope our snide remarks have not wounded him too deeply.

25 December 1993 Atlantic Crossing (Day 19)
Christmas Day. Brett came running in at about half past seven and told me to come quick. They had a good time opening their presents. Amazingly, Santa brought exactly what they had asked for - a Game Boy for Brett and Ice Planet Lego for Craig (plus loads of other stuff too.) John was feeling pretty homesick first thing this morning, especially because he was on watch, in the rain, listening to Brett and Craig squealing with delight as they opened their sacks in the back cabin with Glenys and me. He soon cheered up when we started to dish out the real presents after breakfast. He did quite well with quite a lot of presents from us and Ceris, as well as one from his wife, Diana.

Glenys produced a great Christmas dinner - turkey, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, bread sauce, yam, two veg followed by Christmas pudding. After an hour of lounging around in the heat, Glenys and I had a salt water (bucket) shower. The weather was fairly kind to us during the day; we were able to leave the Hydrovane to its own devices with goose-winged jibs. The clouds started to build up as the sun went down. A good Christmas was had by all!

Glenys’ Diary. A fairly uneventful night apart from getting the presents ready – a sack each for the boys to have at the end of their beds, and the main presents ‘under the tree’ at the front of the saloon.Craig was restless, went to the toilet in the night, woke up early asking if it was morning yet. Finally gave in and let then open their sacks about 7.30 am – just as the sun was rising.

We opened the rest of the presents after breakfast – John seemed a bit overwhelmed at the number he received, he even got two from my Mum whom he’s never met! Everybody seemed happy with what they got; even Craig didn’t whinge that he didn’t receive something he expected.

We had a leisurely bucks fizz while the children consolidated their gains, then I got lunch on the go, which was made a success by the tin of turkey breast which John brought out from England.

Generally slobbed around in the afternoon, reminiscing about watching films on TV, and playing games with Brett and Craig. Neville and I both took a sea-water shower on deck to cool down as the air was stifling despite the 15 knot breeze. The swell predictably built up around tea-time and we did some great surfing. A Dorado jumped onto our line but promptly jumped off again as Neville was pulling it in – darn! We could have done with some nice fresh fish for dinner tomorrow.

Only two more nights to go before we reach Grenada – I think tomorrow will be a long day for me, must try to keep busy, maybe start putting the boat back in order, especially as our stores have diminished giving back locker space that had been taken up with bottles of water, packets of Frosties, instant mash, etc. We have no fresh fruit or veg. left, no Frosties, no jam, no Mars bars or sweets, no crisps, cheese or mayonnaise – it’s time to get there!

26 December 1993 Atlantic Crossing (Day 20)
What a terrible night. Squall after squall with 30 knots of wind and lashing rain. A big squall went through at about ten o’clock this morning - fortunately for me it was John’s watch. He sat at the wheel getting absolutely soaked while the rest of us cowered below. I opened the hatch enough to shove up our waterproof camera to take a “blind” photograph of him and got soaked in the 15 seconds it took!

I caught up on the astro navigation plotting this morning. We’ve got 125 miles to go and we are trying to time it so that we make land fall at dawn (1000 GMT). At midday we had clear skies and about 15 knots of wind, the squalls have totally disappeared - it’s hard to believe that it was so awful last night. We have been trying to go at 4 knots all day, so that we don’t arrive too early. We have had a scrap of jib up and we are still doing five knots - it’s driving me mad!

We are all a bit grumpy today - we are all sick of the swell and the squalls and just want to get there. Another squall hit us at six o’clock, just as Glenys was going to serve dinner. We closed all the hatches and went below and watched through the back windows. The rain is so heavy that it flattens the swell and makes the air above the sea look grey.

Glenys’ Diary. God, what an awful night, the wind howled and the rain lashed down. I thought the Caribbean was supposed to have good steady weather, but it has gradually deteriorated over the last few days. I got up about seven this morning in disgust at the appalling rolling, to a sky that was covered in cloud. It has been squally all day, with about 20 minutes peace before the next deluge hits. We are all sick of it and can’t wait to get into harbour. Neville and I are both snapping at anything that moves. John is as implacable as ever – thank goodness he’s with us or a few murders may have been committed otherwise. I have no motivation to cook dinner so a few tins of chilli with rice will have to do, and so help me if anybody wants anything different.

27 December 1993 Gomera to Grenada (Day 21)
It was another windy, squally night. We took the poles down and ran with a scrap of jib to go at an average of 4 knots. I got up at two o’clock in the morning and spent three hours tacking downwind to go about 10 miles towards Grenada. Our timing was perfect and we made our waypoint 2 miles offshore at about eight o’clock. We then put the clocks back two hours and arrived at Prickly Bay at 0815 which is 1215 GMT. Our passage was 2841 miles in exactly 20 days which is an average of 142 miles per day which equals 5.92 knots average.

I cleared into Customs and had to pay £5 because it is a holiday. The outboard wouldn’t start even after I stripped the carburettor down. A job for tomorrow! We rowed ashore after lunch, rang home, and went to the beach. We went to the hotel bar and had Pina Coladas and rum cocktails before retiring to the boat for a dinner of Fray Bentos pie, mashed potatoes and peas. Brett and Craig (and the rest of us!) liked seeing coconuts in the trees on the beach. We met Angela and Hugh from “Spring Gold 2” from the UK.

Glenys’ Diary. God, what an awful night – am I repeating myself? Well, so is the weather, with squalls coming through every 20 minutes causing gust up to 35 knots. The hatches are closed and opened endlessly – if left closed, everybody suffocates down below. We have had to slow down so that we don’t get too close to land before daylight, yet the wind continues to defy us and bowl us along at 5-6 knots even with a scrap of jib up.

We have now arrived in Prickly Bay, exactly 20 days after leaving Gomera. It feels great to be still, and not have to hold onto things to stop them sliding around. Neville has checked in with Customs, John’s rung his wife, we’ve all had a swim and eaten some lunch out of the store cupboard. We are now winding down, the kids are playing quietly, yet Neville is having to work on the outboard, as we can’t easily go to the beach until he gets it going – life is hard sometimes!

28 December 1993 Prickly Bay, Grenada
Wonderful night‘s sleep. I dived over the side of the boat before breakfast - Great! Glenys went to Grand Anse supermarket with Angela. John went to the airport to book a flight back to the UK with no success. We had lunch and then John and I went into St George’s while Glenys took the boys to the beach. John managed to book a flight back for tomorrow. He couldn’t get one a bit later - only over a week later and he thought Diana would kill him!

We got back to the beach to find Glenys and the boys having a shower in Angela’s daughter’s chalet! We went to the marina bar for a meal in the evening - £15 a head, gasp!

29 December 1993 Prickly Bay, Grenada
John and I went for a quick walk in the morning. We then went alongside the marina quay for fuel and water. We had lunch and then John caught a taxi to the airport. We went and re-anchored, then gratefully plunged into the water - it was 98° inside the boat.

I rowed ashore (still haven’t got the outboard working) and picked up the laundry. We now have food, fuel, water and clean clothes. We spent the rest of the afternoon, tidying up and generally relaxing. It was good to have John here, but even better to be by ourselves.

30 December 1993 Prickly Bay, Grenada
I went over to “Dollie Madison” (Canada) where Myrtle and Malcolm kindly lent me their SSB radio. I talked to Gareth, who will be arriving in Prickly Bay on the evening of the 1st January. We decided to go round to Hog Island for a couple of days and met Dave and Sandra from a UK boat who are organising a New Year’s Eve party. We met Tony, Dee and Marina from “Marina Em” (Guernsey) on the beach.

31 December 1993 Prickly Bay to Hog Island
Glenys went to a farm for vegetables. Dave and Sandra went into St George’s and brought us some chicken legs for tonight’s barbecue. I went for a dive with Tony while Glenys, Dee and the children went to the beach. Brett picked up a coconut from the beach yesterday, so I opened it with a hammer and screwdriver - it tasted very nice too! The barbecue on the beach was a fun way to see in the New Year - we celebrated German New Year at seven o’clock and the UK New Year at eight o’clock which is midnight GMT.