12 February 2003

Good people. Good engine. Good food.

It became clear that our good initial impressions of Barbara and her crew
were true. This is especially so of the engine; an 8 cylinder Deutz which
at 320 revolutions pushes us along at 10 knots in a good sea. I can hear
the reassuring 'thrub, thrub' below my bunk and above this is the sewing
machine noise of the timing gear. This heart of the ship is cared for by
the engineer Prepen who in 2 years will be retiring to Portugal and away
from the sea. Now all sounds fine but the weather has not been so. A
combination of Chinese pressure points, ginger in large and cloying
quantity and cinnazarine prevented all but a touch of 'mal de mer' in me.
Even so, I could not match John Maughaun who on the first day out mastered
the keyboard on a bucking bridge to send some e-mails to Cheryl in spite of
being sick. Hurricane Hingley and young Lawley have remained nicely pink;
perhaps the smoking helps! John Hingley's long experience of trawlers
allows him to be nonchalant when Barbara is grunting and groaning at the
challenges thrown up by old Neptune. The second night was a rough one with
an up to Force 9 Nor-Westerly. Now and again when the bow slapped down
hard into a wave the whole ship would shudder and seemingly stop. When the
boat pitches hard down at the bow or I suppose when her stern is up as she
rides a giant wave, the screw comes out of the briney. This produces a
noise (just happened in a small way) and an oscillation of about 3 cycles
per second in the decking. The master recorded a maximum roll of 48
degrees that night. I lay there thinking that life rafts and exposure
would surely have limited value in such a maelstrom. As whatever sound
abated the 'thrub, thrub' could then be heard. Last night was not so
fierce and now I write this in sunshine; the sea is slate blue and whipped
just a little into white horses. Finisterre is close so I hope to send
this e-mail via the cell phone (this 'lap top' and cell 'phone have kindly
be loaned by the good Stott brothers of Exmouth). Fried meatballs and
onion for the Danish crew displace me from one moving writing desk to