AC Day 10: Weekend!

This night, I got to sleep the whole night. I did notice the engine turning on and off, so I take it we didn’t have much wind. Thomas loved his relaxed nightshift, he watched movies and even heard a pod of dolphins (he couldn’t see them). He described the night in our daily newsletter to our parents:

Spirits are high on Scehawk. After we celebrated our first catch yesterday with some wine and even a small whiskey, we got back to our daily shift routine. The wine let me sleep for two hours before I took over from Ben and let him catch up with some badly needed sleep as he was running short the last days. He is a kind of weird though. He is sleeping in our aft cabin, right next to the engine, where it is hot and noisy when we have to use our Iron sail. He proclaims that the monotone noise lets him sleep like a baby. So I treated him with two more hours of engine symphony until the wind slightly picked up and I could hoist the sails. Scehawk is a real lightwind wonder. We sailed in 12 kn of wind, in a 90 degree angle and were doing 7.5 kn over ground! Ok, maybe the one knot current helped a bit...

When Martijn took over, the water temperature dropped from 25 to 18.5 degrees and caused some serious fog. We could hardly see 30 meters, but hey, we are in the middle of nowhere - no reason to worry, right?

The wind died down when Martijn was one hour into his shift. Good for Ben - engine on.
Conditions stayed the same the whole night. When I opened my eyes, the first thing I saw was Evelien maneuvering a big red bag through the saloon. I knew immediately: Spinnaker time!

As Ben got up and took over my shift at 9:00, we decided it was time to turn off the engine. We’d had coffee and were ready for it: we were releasing The Beast (our big symmetrical spinnaker)! One minor inconvenience, but that goes for almost everything on the boat: I had to dig it up from under a huge pile of other junk first. I was actually surprised I could find it within ten minutes, although I had to take the whole bed apart. With my arms full of sail, I made my way through the saloon and woke up Thomas and Martijn who got a bit excited about the spinnaker as well. So we all helped hoist the beautiful beast and had it flying within no time! With wind between 8-11 knots from 160 degrees, the Beast did a great job in keeping Scehawk moving. One or two knots more wouldn’t have hurt either..

While we were all up and about to hoist and trim the beast, a couple of other beasts dropped by to take a look. A big pod of dolphins. Dozens of Portuguese Man of War (poisonous jellyfish). And a whale in the distance. Oh and a huge area of jumping tuna and hunting dolphins! The water temperature has been dropping all night, from 28 to 18 degrees, and this is apparently where the wildlife flourishes. 

Just after noon, we were up on the bow admiring Portuguese Man of War floating by, as we saw something big and orange drifting in the distance. We got out the binoculars and four pairs of eyes agreed that there was definitely something out there. We quickly pulled the snuffer over the spinnaker (a big sock that allows for the spinnaker to be folded in easily), turned on the engine and started approaching it. We thought it might be a life raft, but it looked like it might be turned upside down. Chances are, it was an abandoned life raft. Or a floating container. Or even a life raft with people on board.. Many questions raced through our minds as we came closer: what if there are people in there, what if they are alive/dead? There was only one ship within reach, whats the number of the coast guard, which coast guard is responsible for the area we’re in right now!? 

Luckily, the sea was calm and we could approach it quite close without any danger to our own boat. We saw the orange colour change to rust as we got closer. I was very relieved not to be finding any dead bodies, but what the hell is it then? It looked like an upside down tank, half submerged in the water. Probably half filled with water and very, very slowly sinking. It was not just a small tank, but a tank as big as a fuel truck! We were passing this thing by only a mile or so, what if it were night, surfing down a wave at 10 knots boat speed? And what if we would have hit it? Its a sailors worst nightmare to bump into a half submerged container (have you seen Open Water?). There is nothing you can do about it, you just get lucky or really, really unlucky. I guess today was our lucky day. 

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After we got over the shock of the container (and warning all the ships in vicinity), we set up the table in the cockpit. We have never before set the table at sea, but it was so calm that we could just do it. It genuinely feels like the weekend (and it is Saturday today), like we’re taking some time off of the sporty sailing. We play cards, read books, take showers, wash laundry, cook a meal and the day is over already. We took in the spinnaker as the wind dropped to under 5 knots and will continue this night on engine..

As it gets dark every evening, loads of little birds start circling the boat. They sing to each other and fly like they don’t need to worry about burning calories, drinking or fishing. Isn’t that weird, 500 miles offshore? It feels very homey, being surrounded by singing birds!

I (temporarily) put Putins biography aside and started on Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods. I’m only on page 35 and its already so hilarious that I keep having to read passages out loud.

I got the easiest cooking shift ever, it was like cooking while on anchor. Better than that.

Pos: 41 53 N, 47 52 W

Miles: 131 towards Cork

To go: 1735

Highlight of the day: Showering. We all smell so good. So clean. The wildlife was pretty awesome too. 

Drama of the day: We almost run into a half submerged container. Our only mixing bowl breaks.

Food: wentelteefjes (French toast) for breakfast, hot dogs on toast with sauerkraut for lunch and quiche for dinner

Weather: very light winds, sunny, a bit of fog in the morning and evening

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