Saturday 31 December 2016
Position 16 41.787N 54 26.048W 13.30GMT
Just before dawn Niall was on watch and saw the first ship for about 10 days. Called the SeaBiscuit, we wondered if it was a luxury yacht with a horse racing owner. I called on VHF and wished them Happy New Year. Turned out it was a 200 m long cargo ship heading for New Orleans.
It's peaceful being alone on deck for the 6-9am watch, whilst the other three sleep peacefully below. The sky lightens a long time before the sun rises when the sky is clear. Flying fish scoot across the waves as we thunder down a big swell. I ate my muesli in bliss, eyes alert for any whales, soaking in the rosy dawn. Then two white tailed tropic birds joined me, circling overhead, long white tail feathers streaming in the wind.
Yesterday we saw no whales, but Kyle fished as usual. However he was shocked to lose the line and tackle again to something powerful. To bring in a big fish we really need to slow down rather than roaring along at 7-8 knots. However we had poled out the Genoa so that we could aim more directly downwind to Antigua, and turning to windward to slow down is more involved. So next the Watamu Yoyo was deployed with its very strong line and steel tracer. Not long later that lure had gone too and so had the teaser, an orange fish that splashes along on the surface, its wire snipped through by very big teeth we suppose.
We have now eaten all the last big dorado, cooked four ways over three days. Absolutely delish fish!
We had new signs of life yesterday with 20 metre-long strings of sea weed undulating over the swell. Mark captured some, and It seems to be like sea holly, with thin serrated leaves and tiny green-brown air-filled berries which provide the buoyancy.
Ahead we have 2017 and in four more days, Antigua. It will be a strange transition from endless cycle of watches as we race across the ocean, eating, sleeping, fixing boat issues, doing crossword puzzles, sketching or reading. Mark practicing the ukelele.......I need to do the same. Questions that we can't answer can't be Googled, the news is only just accessible through the crackle and whine of BBC World Service on the long range radio, but it doesn't seem worth worrying about. In this strange limbo we approach 2017, wondering what it will hold.
Best wishes to everyone for a HAPPY NEW YEAR from Paul, Mark, Kyle and Niall aboard TinTin