The Solo Voyage Diaries: Dolphin or a cup of tea?

Chris Stanmore-Major
V5010csm LR2006 300x165 The Solo Voyage Diaries: Dolphin or a cup of tea?

Dolphin alert!

Ah the sun is shining, the birds are swooping amid the gently rolling waves of the Southern Ocean and if I was not racing there would be little to complain about. BUT AS I AM…. come on, own up: who switched off the wind? Ha ha yes very funny, now turn it back on!

Its a slow day down here at 47 south and the other chaps are not out of reach by any stretch of the imagination. At the moment the direction of our race is South. South to the perpetual belt of Westerly winds that blows around the bottom of the planet causing west to east circumnavigations to be the quickest and most conventional.

The high pressure to the West of my position has swept overhead in the past six hours slowing progress considerably. It has though allowed me to open all the hatches and air the boat somewhat. Distressingly a smell not unlike a pickled ferret has pervaded the boat ever since the start and I cannot deduce from where it may have come! It’s funny, I was just taking off the oilies I’ve had on since start day, and my boots… I turned, opened the hatch and WHAM! Pickled Ferret. Weird. Must be coming from the Andes or something, I shall continue my investigations.

I’m adding some finishing touches to my video update that will go onto the website, I imagine in the next 24hrs. In it I have put some footage I captured leaving Wellington of dolphins swimming alongside the boat. It’s a great little sequence but the thing I found incredible about this encounter was that I was doing 21kts at the time!  These guys were pumping hard, ducking and diving, weaving and playing in the wake behind the boat first and then under the bows as Spartan herself bucked and bounced along with foam spraying from the bows and a rooster tail out the back. It was a fantastic sight to see, you could hear them breathing hard as they flung themselves higher than the guardrails seemingly within reaching distance and there was no doubt, no doubt at all that they were doing it for pleasure. Incredible.  I respect immensely the breeding programs of the world’s conscientious zoos and wildlife parks and I recognize the need for such work,  but the pod that were alongside my boat that day covered four or five miles in just a fifteen minutes before they went off to feed or have a dolphin equivalent to sit down and a cup of tea.It makes me realize there is no way-unless absolutely necessary- such creatures should be kept in tiny pools for our amusement.

Other than wanting to make up the distance lost taking down, repairing and rehoisting the trinquette headsail the other day there is nothing wrong at all with Spartan at the moment. Really, there was little to complain of on the last leg, just the one issue: the batteries, but they impacted on so many other aspects of life onboard it was hard to forget minute to minute.  It is a little odd now not to have some major issue to be mulling over. Suddenly there is time to really work on the weather, tactics (I know, I know just stick with the others until I am around the Horn, no fliers, got that one!)  improving systems and preventative maintenance. It is also suddenly a much more enjoyable place to be when you can turn on the stereo, maybe put on a light or two rather than nearly a month by head torch punctuated only by my own cat-torture singing attempts. I think I am going to enjoy this one- he said patting the only piece of wood on the boat, which the original owner Giovanni Soldini thoughtfully put here at the Nav Station.

I would like to thank the great number of people that have written to me making positive comments on the media I have been able to send back from the boat. In turn I have to thank Velux who make the budget available for such uploads. Without their generosity our shoelace budget would keep me silent all race long.  I hope in some way through the pictures, blogs and video you are able to join me on this voyage and indulge some of your own adventurous dreams (perhaps in the case of Cape Horn though, an armchair or office desk is the best position to be in!) but I hope I will be able to give you a taste of it.

Anyway if we can’t beat that dratted  banana boat we’ll damn well have a good time trying right?

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