Wednesday 16 March

Hola!

I’m sure by now tales from our little world are getting a bit mundane but as I started to write today’s letter from the Pacific it was just dawn on the eastern rim of the little disc. Today’s version was rather subdued with very little of the fiery red that sometimes fills the eastern skyline. The wind is dropping as the sun climbs. Earlier during the night at the end of the 7 – 10 watch it seemed we’d be in for another sails down, drifting period but the fickle wind turned SE and during Kevin’s watch increased so that by the time I returned on deck at 4am we needed to furl some genoa; Temptress was really bowling along at 7 knots and we thought if the wind force continued to trend upwards we’d soon be over on our ear so to speak.

The skipper slept on deck in the full expectation of putting a reef in the mainsail but it never got to that. Temptress reached along merrily in the flat seas until dawn at six or seven knots plus the usual two knots bonus from the current still carrying us westward adding ten degrees to the overall direction. At this rate the “maths” would have us making a 24 day passage with an arrival around April 5th! Well we’ll see as we know the forecast has a big calm patch in it that cannot be avoided.

Let me recount the tale of the two boobies; the red footed, pale fawn (apricot according to our seabird book), flapping kind from the Galapagos for those of you who have never seen one they are about the size and build of a Northern Gannet. They apparently loved the smell of the Skippers delicious chicken concoction with a rosemary and onion jus that was served for supper and circled the boat several times whilst we ate.

Then they attempted a landing firstly on the spinnaker pole that has been almost permanently rigged on the port, windward side for the purpose of poling out the genoa when the wind goes aft sufficiently. Their attempts were highly amusing – approach up wind, legs down, wings up, execute a quick acrobatic turn around the pole uphaul that runs from about a foot back from the pole end up to a point half way up the mast, and oops, missed! A quick flap of the wings to remain airborne, another circuit of the boat and another low approach from over the bow. Eventually one of them succeeded only to be squawked at by the other one who attempted to squeeze in where there was room only for one.

After some time they decided that a more companionable roost would be Temptress’ pulpit- the metal framework that projects round and over the bow. Now we already have an anti-boobie string from the central top bar to the teak seat/step further forward from our time at anchor in the Caribbean but these two managed, after some amiable bickering squawks and flaps, to fit in one on each of the top port and starboard tubes forward of the genoa where they remained until we needed to put in the aforementioned furls at 4am. Somehow Temptress seems to have become an attractive floating bird motel.

Our second tale of the day was the great vegetable disaster. Prior to leaving Panama City last week we had purchased a huge bag of carrots in the Abastos wholesale market along with some aubergines and lots of small cabbages and various other vegetables – our fresh food supplies for the first few weeks of our voyage choosen based on our experience with what lasted best when we crossed the Atlantic.

Sitting at the saloon table a couple of days ago I was more than aware of a whiffy smell that I soon discovered emanated from the outer leaves of a small red cabbage that were decidedly soggy. I cleaned it up, the offending leaves went overboard and the remainder has been providing the crunch in lunchtime salads. Today the smell was back and worse.

A quick peek under the table revealed a crate of horrors. The majority of our carrot supply and all the aubergines, despite having been washed in a mild bleach solution and thoroughly dried, a trick that worked well across the Atlantic (and one we’ve been using ever since), had enveloped themselves in a hairy grey blanket that neither of us wanted to come to close to.

Kevin carried the crate up to the cockpit where we rescued the cabbages, two mooli, the last four beetroot plus less than a dozen carrots. The rest was consigned to the deep. The rescued veg have been wiped over dried and stowed in the cool box part of the boat fridge with our red pepper and fruit supplies.It appears that Panama’s wholesale market stocks are not as fresh as those of Gran Canaria or perhaps it is simply that much hotter.

No worries we have plenty of tinned veg – a six month or more supply –
then there are 2 blocks of frozen spinach and kilos of dried pulses and beans plus seeds for sprouting (a nice crop of alfalfa cress is springing up at the moment) so no risk to the crew of scurvy yet. Plus our two pineapples, the dwindling quantities of plantains and apples and a surfeit of onions, potatoes and courgettes all of which seem to be fine so far.

Noon to noon: Through the water 123nm Over the ground 131nm Noon position: 02 41.19N 086 47.61W