Motion is of course vital to us and so far there had been few obstacles. But persimmons, as any Italian can tell you, will really block you up, while kiwi fruit has the opposite effect.
In the early hours of Saturday it seemed that little other than persimmons could block us. The large Gennaker was up and it was magnificent, boosting our speed and helping us steer a more direct course. Then it tore, leaving almost half the canvas trailing in the water along with a good length of line. The challenge for the helmsman is then considerable. Unless he steers around the sail in the water, we would be left without a rudder. But he also needs to go sufficiently in the opposite direction to allow the remainder of the sail to be brought under control. The shouts of “orza”(upwind) and “poggia” (downwind) were fast, loud and occasionally conflicting.
Once all was under control, we thought Pasquale would take the simple option and raise the Genoa. But our Captain’s determination saw the spare Gennaker up within less than an hour. It’s smaller than the torn sail, but it’s working. We’ve attached a picture of the old sail Flying in all its glory.
The days of downwind sailing have also taken their toll on the “trozza”, where the boom joins the mast. Some bolts have worked loose, but the trozza is now firmly lashed in place.
Apart from those few midnight hours, we have been in a gentle mid-ocean calm. No boat or plane has been sighted for 5 days. Huge clumps of sargasso greeted us on Sunday morning and Panfilo informed us that Columbus had thought this meant he was near land. Apparently eels consider it the ideal matrimonial nest, and the offspring make their way to the Comacchio near Ravenna for 15 years. The females then return 7000kms to the Sargasso sea, spawn and die.
Fishing is never meant to be good for the three days either side of the full moon, and so it proved. With the moon is on the wane and today brought another catch.
“are we nearly there, mum?”… yes. About 1400 nm. We are still the most southerly of the fleet and had good winds last night, which have allowed us to gain some ground. Emails from the Pavoncelli meteorological centre (Naples) assure us we are on the right track.
In mid-evening, Pegasus is flying above the mast while Perseus is behind us. Before moonrise the darkness is an astronomical dream and we can lie and gaze. So we have part of the answer to why we are doing this.