Atlantic Crossing, Days 10, 11 and 12

After passing the halfway mark, Starlight cruises off into the sunset with an air of confidence about her. But how where the crew to know what was over the horizon? Torn sails, record speeds and a serious plumbing issue made the Starlight news bulletin this time round...  

After passing the halfway mark, Starlight cruises off into the sunset with an air of confidence about her. But how where the crew to know what was over the horizon? Torn sails, record speeds and a serious plumbing issue made the Starlight news bulletin this time round...  

Wednesday March 15 - Day 10

As the sun dawned, I woke to a bewildered and somewhat frustrated man trying to rouse me. “Oi, wake up, I need a hand. We’ve ripped a sail again”… “Fark me, another one” was all I could mumble under my breath as I jumped out of bed to give him a hand. The sheet of the Jib sail had snapped, so we harnessed up and jumped out into the bow sprit netting to pull the sail down. Fortunately, the 2 tear’s on this sail were tiny, so an easy fix, even for an unskilled Taylor like myself. However, the other headsail was still under repair, so once again, we’d have to crank over the old Gardner for a few hours until we repaired the Jib.

I got my sew on and managed to bodge up the 2 small repairs on the Jib, so we got it flying again and decided to get started fixing the Genoa right away. I think all the lads had a hand in this repair.

Today was the first day that I really noticed we were low on fresh food. With a couple of soggy banana’s, a rogue looking cabbage and a canister of protein powder, the once overflowing fruit hammock was now looking pretty grim… Not to worry though. We still had a freezer full of pre-made meals that Charlie, Monica and Arabella had so generously prepared for us before we left Malta. We’re all pretty happy that we didn't tap into this stock before now. Once again, cheers guys. 

Just before sunset, the wind picked up to a solid 30kts and was still climbing. With Toothy on watch as the helmsman, Starlight hit her top speed for the trip under sail - 6.4kts. Toothy’s claiming it was his nifty helming skills, but everyone else reckons he just got lucky, nonetheless, the Starlight speed record currently has his name on it. 

With the wind still pushing higher still, the decision was made to lower the sails for the night. The last thing we needed was another ripped sail, especially in the middle of the night.

Toothy celebrating his new sailing speed record. A crushing 6.4kts. The record has been invigilated and recorded in the ships' log book.

Toothy celebrating his new sailing speed record. A crushing 6.4kts. The record has been invigilated and recorded in the ships' log book.

Thursday March 16 - Day 11

I arrived for my morning shift this morning to a coffee and a cooked breakfast of rice and eggs. What a treat… Mick had cooked his first meal of the trip. “You will make a great house wife one day” I commented. “Shut up and eat your scran” was his advice. 

After a couple of coffees, we prepared to get the sails up again. This time, “Spielberg” (Mick) wanted to attach a GoPro to the Mizzen gaff before we hoisted the sail. Would be a pretty rad angle we thought, so we gave it a go. Stay tuned for the footage. 

With a buzz from the drag of the fishing line and a cheer from Brio, it sounded like dinner was potentially hooked. We spotted the Mahi Mahi, sporting its psychedelic rainbow attire, well before it was even close to the boat. It was a smaller one, but enough to feed 5 hungry men with a shortage of fresh food. Good job Brio.

With an uncharacteristic South East wind today, we set the sails on a port tack. We had a big following swell, so the downwind run would be too rocky. With the sails set in such a way that following the desired course (the red line on the computer screen) of 265 degrees was impractical, the motor-yacht-trained helmsman on each shift grew increasingly frustrated as Starlight sailed further and further off course. Its funny, because, once you’ve been at sea on a rocky boat for almost 2 weeks, such trivial things as being 20NM’s off course on a 2000NM journey can be enough to frustrate the hell out of an already twitchy sailor. “We’ll make it up tomorrow on a starboard tack” we decided… First world problems…

"Spielbergs' idea for a GoPro mount on the Mizzen gaff sail was a winner. 

"Spielbergs' idea for a GoPro mount on the Mizzen gaff sail was a winner. 

Friday March 17 - Day 12

After setting the sails on a starboard tack to counter yesterdays’ track, I was under the impression that today was going to be relatively relaxed. And for the most part, it was. The weather was balmy, the sun was out and the trade winds were still pointing us toward our destination. 

“Whoever blocks it fixes it”…Where the words that echoed through Brio’s mind as he hit the flush button for the second… third… fourth time, to no avail. “Man, I did numerous courtesy flushes and I only used 3 squares. This cant be happening…” he said in disbelief. “I probably shouldn’t have had that perculated coffee this morning, it sent me over the edge”. Armed with a bucket, a plunger and an empty milk carton, Brio went into battle. With these tools falling short for the task at hand, dismantling the head was the next option. The good news is, the macerator is fine, the bad news, there is a blockage the size of a subway train and as stubborn as a rum drunk sailor that still needs to be cleared. Stay tuned to see how this one unfolds… 

With the dunny out of action, I told the lads that they could use mine. But I guess the old “you block it, you unblock it” courtesy scared them off, they didn't want to risk it. So the lads started hanging over the bulwark the old fashioned way. “Its quite liberating” one sailor said. “This way, I can use as many squares as I desire” another remarked. With the fresh breeze and no chance of splash back, everyone seems delighted with the new arrangement.  

The afternoon saw the first whale sighting of the trip for the crew of Starlight. But this whale sighting wasn't like any other whale sightings I’d been around for. This whale was trying to stealth us out. He was coming in for a close look but trying to remain under the radar, not showing off at all. He flanked us for about 5 mins the first time, without taking a breath and keeping his distance. Toothy alerted us of his presence - “What the hell is that! A shark? Its a shark! Its massive! Its a big whitey!” It wasn't a shark, but he was close, and big it was. It then appeared for a second pass and swam right across our bow, much to the disgust of ‘Spielberg’ because he was still trying to ready the GoPro for action and missed the shot. 

To finish the day off, we had a couple of sundowners on top of the wheelhouse roof and let Starlight steer herself. With 4 sails up, she was balanced perfectly, so we enjoyed the rooftop sunset beers and happily talked rubbish until the sun went down. One of the more memorable moments of the trip. 

Starlight steers herself... Sundowners on the roof. 

Starlight steers herself... Sundowners on the roof.