Sir Robin pines for a cigarette and a glass of Scotch
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston sailing his Open 60 Saga Insurnce in the Velux 5 Oceans has already run out of whisky, now he is missing a good smoke, and a spread: Gentleman’s Relish.
“Still trying to get into the Southern Ocean, which can be taken to start at 40 S. There is a wayline we must pass north of, which has kept me north a bit and we may be about the suffer because of it as there is a small high pressure system running through where we are and this will give us easterly winds, in fact we are already close hauled with the wind from East of South.
The waypoint is designed to keep the contestants from going too far south and so increasing the difficulties if a rescue became necessary.
We have one other waypoint on this leg, the Kergeulen Islands, which we must leave to the south. They are, in fact, French Territory. These waypoints have been introduced since the Bullimore incident when the Australian Navy had to go a considerable distance to pick him up from his upturned boat.
Yesterday the sun came out, apart from occasional wind and rainsqualls, but nothing like the ones at the equator, we just rolled steadily eastwards. The speed is not great but then we have the wind of about 5 knots from behind and although we are tacking down wind we cannot make a huge amount out of it. The Southern Ocean is not always stormy, in fact it looks as if we are going to have it light for a day or two, maybe even calms later today. Calms here though are very frustrating as the long swell never tops and throws the boat about making it very hard to keep the sails in an aerodynamic shape needed to create movement.
Mind you, with broken battens the mainsail does not have an aerodynamic shape whatever I do to it. The two leading boats were making twice our speed, which is frustrating, but we are in very different weather systems. I just want to hold onto them at the moment to prevent the deficit becoming too great by Fremantle. I am also missing the nearness of the competition. When you have boats close by you can quickly see whether actions you have taken are benefiting you or slowing you down. When we are in different systems, as now, that is not available and I really could do with some close up competition to help me improve my knowledge of how to get the most out of this boat.
I have mixed views at the moment. Acute frustration at the gap that has developed between me and the two leading boats, but quiet contentment at being at sea, albeit, quite honestly, without the nearness of competition, it is a bit boring at times. I am certainly missing my happy hour and news. I have kept up with the rugby and cricket thanks to kind reporters but have no idea what has gone on in the world during the past month. I could find out if I went on the internet, but that is costly in satellite time and diesel fuel for the Volvo engine which charges my batteries so a luxury I have done without. I need the batteries for the autopilot and obtaining the weather, which is far more important to me at the moment than world events. I could be in a space capsule with an unco-operative Houston refusing to tell me what is going on!
I could do with some more variety with my food as well. The packaged freeze-dried and boil-in-the-bag meals from Expedition foods are excellent and I look forward to them, but I am out of Gentleman’s Relish which I love on Ryvita which is also in short supply. It is those little luxuries I am missing.
No question, if I had cigarettes on board I would be smoking. The problem is the habit, I have got so used to lighting up when I settle down to have a think and its taking time to get used to not having it. We are criminals now for smoking, but when I think of the lengths the Navy used to go to supply us with “Blue Liners” the Government cannot excuse themselves from guilt!
Today’s electronic cleverness? The weather system has produced a new demand that I register for a general rescue license. It will not allow me through to look at the weather until I do, but it needs some key code, which, of course, I do not have. So now no weather. One has to ask why this has suddenly appeared? What clever Nerd has put this into the system and why? My laptop didn’t invent it.
The toe has become painful, which is, I think, a sign that it is mending although it does look as if the nail has been forced back to the first joint. Even with its slight bandage it fits into the boot still, but won’t if I have to put on thick socks when it becomes colder. The larger boots Henri Lloyd supplied got left behind in Bilbao in the chaos before the start.
So a couple of days of bashing to windward coming up instead of the more usual running fast down wind. It will mean a further delay in getting to Fremantle I am afraid and I don’t want to start making predictions until we are clear of this little system.”