Day 31: a month at sea

I seem to have made a bit of a swerve to the north during the night which wasn’t intentional, but was once again due to my inability to get this boat to sail in the right direction at times. As usual it happened after dark, and perhaps the odd glass or two of red wine didn’t help, but for some reason the closest I could get to east was north. Oh well, I pursued my usual policy of letting Odyssey do whatever she wants and went back down to continue the film I was watching. I’m sure it’ll all work out fine in the end.

Yesterday afternoon I finally finished patching up the genoa and since the wind had dropped to a gentle F4 I decided to have a go at getting it up. First I had to clear the foredeck where I’d left the drifter and the pole ready for use, so I stowed those, then lowered the working jib easily enough. Raising nearly 500 square feet of sail is a little tricky on my own, particularly as it has to be fed into a groove in the foil of the furling gear without jamming or kinking, but somehow I managed it and it immediately added another knot to the speed.

This morning the first thing I did was check whether all my hard work had unravelled but amazingly it held up and the sail is still in one piece. Next I’ll have to make a start on the mizzen which is in pretty poor shape, but my sewing skills have been honed to perfection so I’ll have a go.

Unfortunately this success was somewhat tempered by my foolish intervention with the boat this morning. Once I got us heading in roughly the right direction it seemed like a good idea to pole out the genoa to windward as we were on almost a dead run. It didn’t take too long to rig so I left it alone and went to have breakfast.

Just as I was finishing my nice hot cup of tea I heard a nasty grinding sound, then a crash, followed by lots of bumping around on the coachroof. That’s not normal, so I poked my head out and to my dismay saw that the pole had managed to acquire a bit of a kink. Quite a lot of one actually, as it was bent at almost 90 degrees halfway along it’s length. I’ve now managed to break both poles during this trip which is annoying but given my track record I guess it’s not altogether surprising.

After salvaging any useful fittings from the pole I chucked it over the side and watched it slowly sink in my wake, doing a pretty good Titanic impression as it slid beneath the waves after sticking it’s back end up vertically for a few seconds. I could just imagine all the tiny passengers leaping into the icy water with little squeals and shrieks, but being a heartless soul I left them there to their watery fate.

Today marks the end of a month at sea, and the good news is that the closest land is now mainland Europe, with the Azores well to the south-west of me and the north-western corner of Spain only 500 miles away. The big swells have subsided and the sun is shining, with the westerly breeze sending us pootling along at a steady 6 knots directly towards La Rochelle, which is now some 750 miles to the east. It looks as though with any luck I’ve only got another week or so at sea, so I’d better make the most of the final opportunity to top up my tan before returning home to gloomy old England.

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