Our position as at 22.00 GMT, Tuesday 14th May:
05 degrees 09 minutes south, 96 degrees 21 minutes west
Distance run in last 24 hours: 168nm
Last night was a bit tough, particularly for Dianne on the midnight to 04.00 watch. The wind dropped a little but the waves had built up so Winnie wasn't coping at all well – Dianne tried the HR head-to-one side, sympathetic-voice-and-tissues routine but couldn't coax Winnie out of her malaise so she had to resort to hand-steering for most of the watch. This morning Stormvogel reported similar issues with their Hydrovane self-steering (which, as far as we know, doesn't have a pet name – in German it's probably something like a windstoffensterspilenvanegevichenmachin but we think she should be Helga) so everyone sounded pretty tired when we chatted on the VHF.
As dawn broke, the wind improved and we've had an excellent morning's sail. At 6.00am we crossed the 5 degrees south line and turned right a bit, heading pretty much due west after 3 days of sailing south-west. The theory is that we are far enough south to be into the SE trade winds, which should increase over the next few days, but remain in the wonderfully helpful west-going Equatorial Current so we'll continue at 5 degrees south for a few days before working our way further south towards the Marquesas. On this point of sailing (a beam reach) Maunie and Stormvogel are back to being completely evens on boat speed so it's nice to have them a mile to windward in an otherwise empty seascape.
As I write, Dianne is preparing supper – sausage casserole using 'Italian Style' Panamanian sausages (can't wait to see what they are like!). We have a wonderful cooking pot called a Mr D which is a tall stainless steel saucepan which fits into a thermally-insulated outer pot. So the meal is started on the cooker top and, once it's simmering nicely, is transferred into the outer pot to slow-cook for up to 5 hours. This saves a lot of gas and makes it very easy to prepare meals in advance. We're running low on fresh meat (just one portion of minced beef from San Cristobal left) so a job for this afternoon is to rig the fishing line. Our friends Sally & Mike on Jacaranda caught a 26lb Wahoo on this leg a month ago – we're not quite sure what we'd do with such a monster so we'll settle for a serves-two tuna, preferably ready-gutted and filleted.
Many thanks for all the emails – it's been lovely to hear news.