We have finally got to the Doldrums – bizarrely in 15 – 20 knots of wind.
The fastest we have been sailing for days.  My fingers have started to
peel, as they always do after my training weeks.  My hands, as also usual,
are extremely painful.  My fingers go dead, and the muscles ache.
Something to do with spinnaker trimming I think – a new part of sailing
that has been introduced in this part of the race virtually 24/7.  When we
launched the spinnaker tonight, a tea towel popped out. Amazing what that
spinnaker eats!  When we woolled it and put it away, that will probably be
for the last time this leg.  Different sails from now on!

Emilia has had her 19th birthday – Emily made a lovely chocolate cake with
candles and a sparkler on it.  Someone said months ago that I would not get
cake on this trip – unfortunately for the diet we bake cake and fresh bread
every day.  And when it’s someone’s birthday we may even get two!  On one
hand my shorts feel a little larger than when we started – but knowing my
luck they have probably stretched rather than my body shrinking.

dolphins1

We had the most fantastic display from a pod of dolphins – adults and
babies.  They were leaping out of the water, doing somersaults and
generally playing around.  Such a spectacle to see.

Once we had gone a few miles into the doldrums, the race rules have changed
this year.  On the last race, some boats were caught here for nearly two
weeks without any wind.  That plays havoc with the schedules and flights
out etc.  So this year, we can switch on the motor for 60 hours.  We have
to declare some hours ahead, and we declared to start at 10.15pm.
Ironically, there was still nearly 15 knots of wind.  What a bugger!

We had a little issue with the engine room fan – like it has broken.  We
found out a while ago – it looked as if an old piece of plastic had been
sucked into the mechanism and broken most of the blades.  The engine
shouldn’t run without the fan on, so it might have to run with the door
open.  And who sleeps next to the engine room door?  Me.  Just another few
degrees to contend with.  What is an extra twenty or so degrees onto the
forty or so that it is to sleep in anyway?  I have never sweated so much in
my life – probably more in the last couple of weeks that the whole of the
fifty five years previously added together.  I am so looking forward to
getting to Rio to sleep in an air conditioned room and a proper bed.  But
the Dad’s Army brigade have come to the rescue again, and done a repair
job.  Not sure it is going to last – but keeping my fingers crossed that
the door doesn’t have to open when I am trying to sleep.

I was hit by my first flying fish last night – right in the bottom.  It
then fell to the deck and wriggled under the cover of the grinder
mechanism, so that all had to be dismantled to get it out.  That would have
smelled good in this heat once the sun had come up.  I am still convinced
that they can’t see in the dark – but without good old google to help me
with that one I don’t know the definitive answer.

We had a good sort out of the food today – it is very peaceful sailing at
the moment so lots of little jobs are getting done.  We have had to pack
everything very carefully we have been warned that as soon as we pop out
of the doldrums (in a good wind according to the forecast) the wind will be
directly on our nose.  That means that we will have normal sails up, and
the boat will be heeled over at 45 degrees all the way to Rio.  Oh what
joy!  Not looking forward to that bit at all.  The good news was we found
the 100 wraps that we lost from the off!  Under Kat’s bunk with the bleach.
Hmm.  That did make a little issue when tuna and sweetcorn wraps were on
the menu!  We can have them several times now in the next ten days or so.

Wendo needed to get to something under my bunk, and discovered my Henri
Lloyd wheelie suitcase (the order not to buy hard bottomed cases with
wheels came after I made my purchase).  She hollered up the companionway as to who owned a wheelie case – oh dear.  Me!  Thought I might have got away with that one until we arrived back into London.  I thought that I had put it in the ideal place – out of everyone’s way.  Obviously not!  I think we need to get out of the doldrums so that her mind is on sailing and not on my inappropriate luggage.

As we are motoring, there are only four of us on duty at one time – the
rest can get a whole nights sleep.  Wendo did say that we had to try not to
hit anything – considering we had seen nothing for two days now it seems
highly unlikely.  She followed that up by saying she never knows when she
is going to bump into old mates!  If you can that is with sweat pouring off
you like the grand rapids at high water level.  My turn tonight.  Wonder
how that is going to go then?

PS In answer to someone’s comment, Flo is the name of our boat that some of
the crew gave her before we had a sponsor.  Sounded more personal than
CV25.  She is also now known as Flo’s Patisserie!

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