For the last few days we have been followed by a single bird, most likely
from the albatross family.  It looks like an albatross, flies like an
albatross, so it must be an albatross.  Is it the same bird every day?
Who knows.  It could be a different one, but it looks very similar.  It is
different to the Southern Ocean albatrosses – this one doesn’t have a dip
at the end of his wings.  I am assuming it is a he, as I have called him
Walter.  He has a white stripe from one tip of his wing, all the way along
to the other wing tip on his underside.  Walter seems as good a name as
any.  He does have a few friends on occasion – small but chunky black and
white birds that are extremely fast, and often land on the water.  They
are called Percy.  All of them.  They look like Percys.

We are in the middle of another front, or low pressure system, giving us
winds of up to sixty knots.  But this one is downwind, so although not
particularly pleasant, not as unpleasant as the last one.  It seems there
are another two low pressures following this one – this never was going to
be an easy leg.  Marc and Craig have both picked up small niggling
injuries, so are not firing on all cylinders.  Those that are capable of
the strong work are definitely getting a little worse for wear.  As I sat
on deck this morning, looking backward towards the helm, the size of the
waves coming up behind us were enormous.  I have helmed on some of this
leg, but not with seas this heavy.  The waves have been the size of
bungalows, not houses or blocks of flats!

The last mother duty I had was with Big D – David the watch leader.  Who
always professes not to be able to cook.  Not so!  I did the lunch with
his very able assistance, but handed over the lead to him for dinner.
Which he made very successfully.  I have a feeling that was a talent he
wanted to be kept hidden – more a case of won’t cook rather than can’t
cook.  The secret is out!  Although looking at the state of the galley
during and after our stint, maybe we are best both kept out of it.  Our
excuse – it was very rough!
messy kitchen2

The Chinese packaged sliced bread ran out a few days ago, so we are back
to making our own.  Not a problem on a lovely flat calm warm day.  Not
many of those on this leg.  The first problem we came across was that it
was way too cold for the dough to rise.  We thought about putting it in
the engine room, but that smells of diesel.  We have now, sort of,
perfected the system.  The oven has to go on to warm, then be turned off.
The bowl of dough is put in the warm oven, and taken out after thirty
minutes when it has doubled in size.  Sounds easy.  Until you forget you
have put it in the oven.  James and Marc created a monster.  When they
took it out if the oven it had way outgrown the bowl, and was making a
lovely sticky mess.  It all came good though.  Homemade bread is always
better than bought – or it has been so far!

Yesterday was a fairly calm day, so we managed to repair some of the
damage that has been done so far.  The bow sprit is now in the safety of
the sail locker, having been taken off.
The ragged edges on the boat have been filed down, so that the sails don’t get caught and tear on them.  We won’t know how much we will miss it until we need to put up a spinnaker. So far, that hasn’t happened!

We also did a quick inventory of the fresh fruit and veg – it seems that we are just about to run out of carrots.  We have managed to get through 20kg so far this leg – that is a huge amount! I think we must have rabbits.  A few bits and pieces have been thrown away, mostly because they are wet in this damp environment.  It certainly isn’t because the heat is turning them off. Even the water coming out of the tap tastes as if it has been stored in the fridge.

We have a little dilemma today – we are due very soon to go over the date line, which means we will have the same day twice.  It is Dora’s birthday tomorrow. (Reminds me of Dora the Explorer, my granddaughter Georgina’s favourite fictional character.)
Or is it?  If we go over the date line today, it will be the day after tomorrow.  If we go over the date line tomorrow she will have two birthdays.  Which one…………..?  How lucky to be stuck on this boat for two birthdays instead of just one.  Her present could be cleaning the bilges or the toilets – she won’t have another like that!