Light Airs and Graces
We're loathe to write of nothing but onboard catering arrangements but meals do take on an importance of their own when passage making. Particularly when there are only two of us onboard, mealtimes provide an interlude from the solitude of keeping watch alone whilst the other sleeps. So mention of the home-made bread, made to Fiona's recipe (which worked perfectly), cottage pie and hand-crafted beef burgers with all the trimmings are really just a vehicle to record the times of the day when we are both up and about. We are working a 6 (hours), 6, 4, 4, 4 watch system starting at 0800hrs. It allows each of us one good sleep each day and manageable night watches. Watch changes coincide appropriately with mealtimes (food again). The two six hour watches give time enough to achieve a chore or two and the odd number of daily watches means that each of us has two night watches only every other day. We can hardly call them night watches now though, as the sun only just dips the horizon at 65ºN. Cue more photos of sunset/sunrise - just one radiant continuum.
Ships passing in the night day
We are in good company, it seems. On the AIS receiver, which advises us of other ships in the vicinity, we have seen Cunard's Queen Elizabeth leap-frog us northwards along the Norwegian coastline and, earlier, P&O's Aurora steamed gracefully past us on a reciprocal track. We can only imagine how jealous their passengers must have been of the opulent style in which we are travelling - but we can all enjoy the same weather.
We are somewhat reluctant, having seen something of the dreadful 'spring' at home, to share news of the positively balmy spell we have enjoyed for the last day or two. Daytime temperature in the almost unbroken sunshine has risen to 21ºC! Shorts are on and sunscreen applied. It all marks a rather pleasant interlude from the freezing conditions earlier in the trip. The downside is the lack of wind. The engine is on; chugging away gently at reduced revs to conserve fuel but pushing us slowly ever further north. We are hunting wind and very fortunate to be able to receive prolific forecasting information over the Inmarsat Fleet Broadband terminal so generously lent to us by Andy's employer. That said, anyone who thinks satellite comms are normally prohibitively expensive might wish to think again: it is cheaper to phone home on the satphone than to use GSM roaming from a mobile - if we had a GSM signal out here 100 miles from the Norwegian shore that is. Plug over, but they deserve it - the connectivity it has provided has been superb and totally reliable in all conditions thus far.
A recent weather map depicting wind over the Norwegian sea illustrates our problem:
Arrows show the direction of the wind: the number of barbs indicates the strength (one full barb per 10 knots of breeze, half a barb for 5 knots etc). Where there are no arrows, where we are mid-way up the Norwegian coast for example, there is no wind! The prospects are good, however, later in the weekend. We are just glad we didn't take the north-west option when leaving Shetland having seen the wind strength approaching Iceland.
A longer blog than usual as the engine doesn't take much tending. We are reluctant to set a precedent and there's some serious sailing to be done shortly! Over the next few days we plan to put into northern Norway to replenish fuel and then its onward on the final leg of our passage to Svalbard.
Lest anyone fear we lack company on watch