Tales from the Pacific Day 10


Hurrah! Another milestone; just after seven this morning Temptress glided gently across the Equator at around 095 27.0W under full genoa in a F1 from the NE! So slowly the crew could count down the cables as we approached. In the time honoured fashion a toast was drunk to Neptune and the customary libation poured into the ocean by the First Mate who had not crossed at sea before, witnessed by Boat Ted and officiated by the Skipper who has several South China Sea Equator crossings under his belt. We hope that Neptune will smile favourably upon us in the coming days with some wind please!

As Neptune received his due we spotted a huge spout of water some 500m off to starboard. Grabbing the binoculars Kevin exclaimed “F*** that’s big” – a sperm whales lying lazily on the surface longer than Temptress. In fact huge, easily the biggest creature we have ever seen and beyond it more spouts so any idea of moving a little closer for photo’s was quickly forgotten.

Then what little wind there was died . Laundry, breakfast and a fruitless attempt to tune into the SSB net were conducted in a rolling drift. Even the current seemed to have temporarily forsaken us. It is going to be a long day.

10:00 am
Today’s GRIB shows Temptress to be firmly in the clutches of the ITCZ or the Doldrums for the foreseeable future. There is more wind to the south of us but we are not making sufficient progress towards it and then in the following days the calm extends to that area too – very depressing. Even using some of our precious fuel may not achieve enough miles south in time. Five knots apparent is something of a rare luxury, three to four enables Temptress to slip along at one or two knots through the water assuming we aren’t knocked about by the swells. Ten knots of wind is a distant memory. We’ve managed 6nm over the ground since crossing the Equator today half that is due to the S Equatorial Current.

More whales later – it seems we are crossing something of a whale highway. One smaller one came quite close lifting his/her head to judge where Temptress lay and altering course around our stern accordingly before resuming his original route to the north.

Plantain & Walnut Cake
After successfully exploring unknown territory with a great lasagne in the thermal cooker today I decided to have a go at cake baking. None of Mr D’s recipes quite fitted my ingredients especially as my SR flour was found to contain more unidentifiable (ie did I really want to know?) flying insects than flour – I am grateful for whoever advised me to wrap every cereal based product in individual plastic bags before we crossed the Atlantic as in this case the infestation was limited to just this one bag of flour from IGA in Grenada. Oh and my scales had succumbed to the tropical heat and their plastic pressure feet have disintegrated so thank goodness for Crate & Barrel’s measuring cups brought with us from DXB!

2 overripe sweet plantains mashed with 1/2 cup of sugar and 50g of unsalted butter. Beat in a large egg then add a generous teaspoon of powdered ginger, 2 cups of plain flour, 1 teaspoon of bicarb and half a teaspoon of cream of tartar (the latter as I’ve no idea how much rising agent might be needed with the plantains and I have a pot in the galley). Stir in a cup of chopped walnuts and a teaspoon of Grenadian vanilla essence.

Grease Mr D’s pudding tin with (coconut) oil and spoon in the mixture. Simmer on a trivet in the inner pot for 30-40mins then place in the outer pot for at least four hours. You’ll have to wait until tomorrow’s update for the result!

Progress throughout the day has been minimal and life is hot, sticky and tedious. The decision still has to be made whether to play our wildcard and use some precious fuel to motor south west in the search of more constant, and slightly more breeze. Meanwhile the afternoon was spent drifting, drying the laundry and whale watching.

All well on board if a little bored!

Noon to noon: Through the water 42nm Over the ground 69nm
Noon position: 00 08.55S 095 34.65W