Thurs 17th May

tome

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Thursdsay17th 8am local 8am BST

44deg 17.6N 17deg 23.98W, motorsailing 7.5 knots, cog73T.

Barometer has fallen to 1029.5, a whole 1.3 mb in 24 hours, which surely indicates that wind is on its way, although admittedly not very much wind, possibly force 3 instead of current force 2.

Aliens landed on the boat last night during my watch. I couldn't actually find the aliens as thy must have been very small, as evidenced by the only-just-audible continuous beeping noise about two or three times a second. I narrowed their location to somewhere on the foredeck. Pwc confirmed their existence when he took over at 1am this morning, and a note was duly made in the log. This morning, the log shows that Para had a slight struggle with the aliens before throwing them overboard. He also turned off the activ-echo radar enhancer/alarm, and the beeping stopped too.

I always enjoy navigation calculations as long there's some real value in them. And to my mind there's no better reason to do a bit of nav than to avoid getting mown down by a large ship. See, at some point in this trip we will cross into Biscay, and at that point we will cross the paths of perhaps several ships all at once, rather than just see one ship a day on AIS about 25 miles away, like now. Plenty of ships run north and south between the NW tip of Spain to NW tip of France, and by joining up the TSS zones at these points (using a pencil and broom handle on a big chart) LJS found the approximate points between which we should expect plenty of ships trundling up and down Biscay with their late deliveries of BMW motorbikes and nappies.
They won't be expecting to see anything much cross their path in Biscay, whereas we all know they are far more cautious as they tentatively make their way up the English Channel, ahem.

Now, I think it would be nicest to be able to see any ship intent upon mowing us down in daylight, much better for dramatic last-minute photos, so we're motoring on both engines to maintain minimum 7.5 knots and hence arrive at these shipping lanes with six hours daylight left on Saturday afternoon. If a bit of wind turns up, well, we'll meet them that much sooner on Saturday, but almost certainly still in daylight. One or two ships at night is fine, but several all at once ( and I seem to remember they like to run in groups, as though they are all just out from the same transport caff) it's a bit harder at night to keep track of where they all are, perhaps turn and then read the screen (rather just look around) to establish where they are now. Especially if one is overtaking another and so on. Although of course there might be none at all.

Once in Biscay there are hardly any ships, just a few pleasure boats such as Albin vegas, Contessas etc, and we're more likely to be the ones doing the mowing down, or at least telling them to "stand by" on vhf in a Latino accent and then worryingly (for them) not speaking to them again, like that ship did a few days ago to us, grrr. Oh alright, we won't run them down.

Anyway, all of this explains this morning's higher speed, and nothing to do with me foiling anyone's guesses of when we arrive anywhere, which I don't know about anyway, honest. However, I can tell you that once through the shipping lanes it will be a bit tighter on fuel, so back to single engine or perhaps even a bit of no engine at all. Imagine that!

That's enough for now, but everyone's in a jolly god mood. I would be in an even better mood if I had made that 7diamond Bridge contract yesterday, but para and pwc took me and LJS one down, and celebrated their successful defence in traditional bridge-club fashion with high fives and lots of whooping noises. Ratbags. We won both rubbers though, so hah!

tcm
 

Bajansailor

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I hope they are not too disappointed re the quantity of ships they are expecting to see on that rhumb line between Ushant and Finistere - methinks that tcm is perhaps an anorak ship spotter and will be on watch with notebook and camera all ready.....

Also, don't expect the ships to stay within the imagined boundaries of this 'lane' - we were very nearly run down by a south-bound rogue Chinese bulk carrier 30 miles outside the lane off Finistere.
 
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