• iainmacneil

Week 4 - Its CHRISTMAS (well it was)


The Happy face of a Navigator Heading West!


The main news of the week is that the decision to go west was rewarded with our fastest week, at an average speed for the week of just over 8.5 knots. To put this in context, the average speed on the 20 day run from Lanzarote down to Saint Helena was just under 6.5 knots. We will now recover the four extra days we used on that leg!


It was always going to feel that leaving Saint Helena would be the start of Christmas. We put up the few Christmas decorations that we had - very few....no pics....might have been a bit sad! More on the celebrations to follow....


Day 22

We left Saint Helena settled on a course of 251° for a waypoint south of Rio De Janeiro. This will allow us to stay in the full body of the currents from Saint Helena towards South America, which is what helped us to make those consistent speeds of over 8 knots. As we left Saint Helena a local fishing boat gave us 3 Yellowfin Tuna, which Luke prepared, giving us ~10kg of tuna meat. We had tuna for dinner on the first two days at sea and put the balance in the freezer. All onboard agreed it was possibly the best tuna they’d had and they figured large on the Christmas menu.


Luke Preps the Tuna


For those of you who were in Lanzarote, you may well recall that Mikey had a wisdom tooth removed 6 days before sailing from Saint Helena. The stitches were all supposed to have dissolved but, on sailing, Mikey's toothache returned. A quick inspection by Iain revealed the final trace of one of the stitches in the wound where the wisdom tooth had been. A swift removal with tweezers and Mikey felt immediate relief. Sometimes, needs must......dental bookings can be made with the good Captain on his return!


As we settle in to the routines onboard, like many ships we have a film if all is settled at 8pm. Having set aside a few DVDs for Christmas some months ago, we watched:

23 Dec ‘Last Christmas’

Christmas Eve: ‘A Christmas Carol’

Christmas Day: ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’

Boxing Day: ‘The Great Escape’.




(Editor's note - Ah yes, film night - I remember it well.....on Silver Dee in 2018.... as Iain and several others watched the Wreck of the San Demetrio. Or was it 1978?!?!)





Day 23 We have been having to carry out a lot of power optimisation, not quite Apollo 13, but it feels that way sometimes. Our new charger/inverter is very sensitive to spikes in power and we are now looking for the combinations that generate the spike. On Day 23 we successfully manage to isolate one set of stabilisers and run Astra on a single set of stabilisers. This uses less power, does not require as much fuel and does not create as much drag as using two sets of stabilisers....more speed!


Christmas Eve/Christmas Day

Aside from the routine of watchkeeping and the various logs and records we keep on a daily basis, the focus was also on Christmas dinner!

During the provisioning, DPA Kat managed to get us a fabulous turkey roast and all the trimmings from the British store in Lanzarote. For starters we took a large tuna steak out of the freezer on Christmas eve and Luke then prepared Tuna Tartare as a starter. Both courses were awesome and, as is traditional, we didn't get to the Christmas pudding (Does anyone?)



Everything was as good as we could hope for on a comparatively small vessel in the middle of the South Atlantic and we even had a bottle of bubbles that our great friends Chris and Julie Clucas had given us as a gift when we saw them in Arrecife in early November (when ASTRA had her final lift out and her antifouling applied). I know that both Kat and I are very much looking forward to sharing another bottle with them when Astra returns!


Day 26 – Boxing Day

During the morning watch Carlos spotted some large fish jumping and we are now among some Chinese fishing vessels and a Galician longliner. That afternoon the fishing rod was deployed, but all remained quiet. Iain discussed with Luke giving the engine a good run as he came on watch and the speed was built up to 10.5 knots. Within about 5 minutes of the speed increase the reel of the fishing rod whirred and it made a noise that could even be heard over the engine. At that point we immediately pulled back on the engine speed and Carlos and Luke went to battle with the fish. Alas the line broke, although they are pretty sure the fish that jumped was something very marlin-like.

Next time boys!


Day 27

Another day of assessing the source of the intermittent power spikes that are tripping our inverter. Everything seems to point to the when the compressor for the air conditioning starts. In another 10 days that will go off anyway, as it will be getting too cold for air conditioning.

Iain spent the morning planning his routes on paper charts and establishing contingencies for Cape Horn....It's getting real!

We have now crossed the Tropic of Capricorn and, as we push further and further south, the days are getting progressively longer at both ends, with sunrise now at ~05:30 and the daylight remaining until about 20:00.




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