Ross and Campbell Field report from abroad Buckley Systems in the Global Ocean Race: The start of a new week at sea
We are still nipping at the heels of Halvard and Miranda, and have been picking our way down the west coast of Africa. We have had a few more visits from inquisitive fishermen asking of cigarettes - and was rather persistent so we readied ourselves for some potential evasive action, turning the phones on and getting a couple of parachute flares at the ready. Then eventually once they saw me below deck shuffling through bags, they cleared off much to our relief.
Early yesterday evening we ran into a long fishing line. We were both on deck and had seen some lights, and thought that we were clear of the end of the net, when all of a sudden our speed started slowly dropping. It was pitch black so we couldn't really see what was going on but a torch over the side showed a line towards the bottom of the keel. The boat eventually spun around and we came to a grinding halt and dropped the spinnaker to the deck.
Over the horizon came the fishing boat flashing lights at us so yet again we readied ourselves for some action. The fishermen made their way down their line inspecting the floats then came to us. We were expecting a pretty hostile reception, but they spoke fantastic English, cut their own line and cleared us. Asking where we were from and where we were going etc. Three west Africans in jeans and leather jackets in a small wooden boat 35 miles offshore fishing...I asked them if they had caught any fish tonight, 'only one big one' was the response with a smile.
They asked if we had any whisky for them and I could only apologise. They said no worries, and bid us a safe journey and puttered off into the night. Within ours of being set free from the nets if felt like the doldrums had travelled a few hundred miles north, and we had wind from all quadrants, constant sail changes, light rain and generally a crap time. It wasn't until late morning that we got under way again, and were pleased to see that Halvard had not escaped the trap much before us so losses were minimal.
We gybed about 30 minutes ago which should see us sailing away form the coast of Africa, and out into oceanic sailing. The last 1000 miles has been interesting however at times frustrating and painful. We are both looking forward to falling into a better routine and are starting it tonight. The only downside to sailing on deck as we run under our huge A2 in 18 knots of breeze is when we charge. We have (as do most of the rest of the fleet) installed a hydro generator, basic idea is you use the boats motion through the water to turn a small propeller that generates power to charge the batteries.
The new ones like we have can output about 40A. This saves carrying diesel (extra weight), adds a second charging system to the boat as a backup, and is also environmentally friendly. However they should come with a set of industrial earplugs. The thing screams like you wouldn't believe at around 10 knots which is a lot of the time on this bus...the serenity of sailing is destroyed by the noise which is akin to being stuck in front of a screaming baby on a plane for 6 hours. And they call this one the cruising version! I don't know a single cruising yachtsman who would put up with that noise!
Observations today were of large areas of oil slicks - like heavy oil I can only assume come from the huge Russian fishing boats clearing the oceans up this coast. We saw eight of them today ploughing up and down the depth contours. Speaking of oil slicks today is the first day the hair is not greasy. You know how if you haven't washed your hair for a day it goes all greasy? Two days ago it felt like a litre of olive oil had been poured on my head. Finally today my body figured out that it doesn't have to pump out oils that I strip out with shampoo every day, and it feels quite normal. Unfortunately trying this at home is usually seen as socially unacceptable, but I challenge you to try it.
That’s all for now from BSL, dinner time then a bunk for 2 hours.
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