4 June: Ellen 1, Watson -1

When it got light enough to see outside this morning, I had a flash of déja vu. My rigging looked as if Olleanna had spent the last few weeks in Port Elizabeth harbour as it was covered in streaks of light brown dust. Fortunately, this is not manganese ore, but sand from somewhere to the east of us. The most likely donors of this sand would be Senegal, Western Sahara or Morocco but they’re all about 1000 miles away! It’ll wash off easily in the next rain shower but in the meantime, Olleanna is looking quite grungy!

Worse news however, is that seeing as today, and probably the next three or four days, are going to be 100% overcast, meaning that my solar panel is likely to be less efficient, I was deploying Watson, my very efficient Watt & Sea hydrogenerator. Just as I was lowering him into the water, an unusually large wave caused Olleanna to lurch dramatically and Watson clashed with Ellen’s oar and in the process lost one of three blades on his propeller. This effectively means he is of no further use in the battery charging duties on board until that propeller can be replaced. I still have the main engine to use for charging batteries but I was hoping to not have to burn more than the absolute minimum diesel on this trip. I’ve only run the motor for 4.5 hours since leaving Cape Town of which 3 of those were on the first night. On reflection, with a flask of coffee and the last surviving bran muffin from yesterday’s cooking session, I realize that what prompted the deployment of Watson was not so much an urgent need to charge the batteries but more a feeling that I should be doing SOMETHING on board, rather than just being along for the ride! Everything was perfect. We were making good speed under the conditions, in just about the perfect direction, the motion was comfortable and yet I felt the need to do or change something.

A very clever man once told me that very often, the best, and most difficult thing to do, is to do nothing at all. I should listen better?

Anyway, I’ve just shaken out the last reef in the mainsail and now we’re leaping from wave to wave, heeled over like crazy, water is crashing over the deck as far as the mast and we’re making at least an extra 1/3 of a knot! But at least I feel like I’ve done something!

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