September 30th 1982

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An old photo from Bora Bora – Val reading

Rather a dull day, if the truth be told.  The weather was really pretty gorgeous, with lots of sunshine… but no wind.  So we buggered about in the middle of the ocean, getting nowhere, + getting Doug mad.  In port, Doug claims that he doesn’t care how long a journey takes, but this doesn’t prove true in practice – he gets really mad when we don’t get anywhere.

I spent most of the day reading, finishing one book, reading another right thro’ (my first Dick Francis thriller, + very enjoyable it was too, + then starting another.  Macaroni cheese for dinner – it’d a favourite of Doug’s, but I’m starting to loathe the stuff.  Swings + roundabouts, that’s life.  We’ve been with Dick on + off all day, but drifted apart during the late afternoon.  I think Doug has become tired of the effort required to keep us together, + has quite happily resigned himself to saying goodbye to Blue Moves overnight.  I think it’s rather a shame, but then I’m not the boss.

Little to comment upon here, with just a pretty tedious day at sea, though it does also mark the end of our maritime relationship with Dick and Blue Moves.

September 29th 1982

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Note the horizon!

A dirty, dirty day.  First of all the log (that’s the mileometer to thee + me) packed up during the wee hours, + then late in the morning we were struck by an incredibly fierce snap storm, quite the worst thing we’ve encountered all the way across the Pacific.  Once again we thought we’d lost Dick, who we’d managed to stick to all night, but once it had blown thro’, Dick was able to spot us, + we moved together again.  In some ways it was lucky it came on so fast, since the seas didn’t get any chance to build up to any height.  All we had to put up with was a suddenly fierce wind + accompanying driving rain.  There was rain for most of the day actually, so I was pleased to spend as much time as possible down below.

It was my turn to cook dinner, + I turned out quite an elaborate little number of saveloys, stuffed peppers, roast potatoes, plus a salad overlooked from last night.  Bloody good, I reckon, tho’ I say so myself.  Doug revealed ( or rather repeated) one of his faults this afternoon: that of becoming angry with things.  He had begun to make a pot of tea, when with one particularly bad wave the teapot fell over, spilling its contents of dry tea leaves.  Not such a disastrous thing to happen, you wouldn’t think, but it made Doug very angry, + he started slamming utensils, cutlery etc around.  So much so that eventually the inevitable point was reached, + he smashed  the glass jar used as a tea-caddy.  Which angered him more, of course.  And it’s all so pointless.  Getting angry with things does nothing to make things better.  Quite the reverse, in fact – witness this afternoon.  Quite often it’s one’s own fault in any case.  And it’s likely to embarrass anyone else listening.  It certainly did me today.  Ho hum.

Had the usual game of Mastermind with Dick this afternoon, + managed to scrape a draw – I really thought he had me beat.

Living in close proximity to someone else with no possibility of escape certainly has its issues; in the circumstances it is remarkable that we all got on as well as we did, and that Doug was able to take his frustrations out on objects rather than us is undoubtedly a good thing. And, of course, I was keeping these observations strictly to myself!

September 28th 1982

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An old photo, and not an especially interesting one, of where we camped on Hiva Oa… but no, not in that great big hole.

Unsurprisingly, Blue Moves + Thyme drifted away from each other during the night, so that come morning, she was nowhere to be seen.  Rather more worrying, VHF contact seemed to be beginning to break up, suggesting that maybe we were losing each other.  And of course, without radio, there’d be no way of finding each other again.  However, the respected navigators made educated guesses at the best courses to take, and we were still together at lunchtime when the noon shots gave what we hoped was a more accurate fix.  From then on, we both held what we hoped was an intercept course.  To everybody’s amazement we came into each other’s view in exactly the right spot at exactly the predicted time.  Big pats on the back for Dick + Val.  This all meant of course that we could resume our inter-boat games tournament.  I gave Dick another whopping at battleships, tho’ he was able to gain his revenge by beating me at mastermind… the bum.

During the day, when we weren’t scanning the horizon for itinerant yachts, + Val was busy altering my canvas trousers, so that I didn’t look quite as much as tho’ I’d just climbed out of a brass lamp; while I was copying down the words of various songs from Doug’s tapes – anything to increase the repertoire.  The evening meal was very tasty – liver and bacon.  Tonight we’ve decided to try to keep in touch with Dick, to save messing about in the morning.  Listened to the second part of their chart show on the radio this evening – living in the past even more: Kenny Loggins, Santana, Crosby Stills + Nash. + America.  My god, you’d think it was 72 not 82.  Coincidentally, it was followed immediately afterwards by a local show with the NX top ten, + the difference was remarkable, the NZ list being far more like Britain’s, more looking forward.

Remarkable how one will seize on any opportunity to relieve the boredom of life at sea, a role Dick was fulfilling in admirable fashion.  And that the game of choice should be Mastermind, which in its Wordle incarnation has achieved cult status nowadays.  Rather pompous of me to be quite so condescending about American music, but that was too often my way.  Still is, probably.

September 27th 1982

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One way and another, a pretty good day today, as days at sea go.  We started off with a magnificent breakfast cooked by yours truly: bacon, scrambled ages, + fried tomato… Plus bread + butter of course.  And jam.  And tea.  Who could ask for anything more.  And then, while that was being digested, I got stuck in to a game of Battleships with Dick over the VHF – amazing the inane uses a piece of high-technology can be put to isn’t it.  I beat him tho’, which is the main thing.  While we were playing, + unknown to Dick, Thyme + Blue Moves wer4e getting closer to one another.  So much so, that had we known we could have shouted the shots across + saved on the battery.

A busy but lazy afternoon.  Val got going on some mending + altering, while I first got this bloody thing up to date (you won’t believe it, but it is actually Sept 27th as I write this), + then copied out all our addresses knot the back of this book.  Heather gave us quite a few – she’s a lovely girl – + there were a couple from Corky, plus all the old favourites  that we’ve been dragging around with us for the past 16 months or so.  In the afternoon, having racked my brain for a different game to play with Dick across the radio (he doesn’t have a chess set).  Eventually, IO hit on the answer: Mastermind (not the TV show.)  Dick had never played it before, but he cottoned on fast.  We played fairly simple versions, + I did beat him in both games we played, but it was enjoyable.  Obviously, as the lone sailor Dick is deriving benefit from having unexpected company, but I’m enjoying the variety his presence is providing.  Val cooked up a smashing dinner, tho’ she had me to thank for at least half of it, since there was loads of stew left over from last night, + she turned it into a curry.  It was my idea too.  Bloody marvellous tho’.

Doug was very pleased this evening that despite the intransigence of the Australian ham operator (called Bruce – what else?) last night, he was still able to get a message from his Australian friend – nothing could have delighted him more.  Despite not being required to do so, I stayed up for a couple of hours.  It was an absolutely gorgeous night, I felt wide-awake, + on Radio Bay of Plenty they had an American rock chart show coming in clean + clear, so I just enjoyed myself sitting up in the cockpit, listening to some new music.  Of course, being American, most of it is more of the same old names: Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, etc.  Dick has been moving away from us slowly, but since during my watch it was his job to keep in touch with us, I didn’t let it bother me.

Apologies if I have already used the photo above; am writing this in something of a hurry, and looking back through all the other posts is something of an impossible chore. But I am, as predicted, in something of a hole regarding photos, as we took so few. Am rather puzzled that I can’t find any of Blue Moves in our albumor the box of rejects – which is surprising as I have referred to taking them. But maybe we handed them all over to Dick, when we saw him again (spoiler alert.) Not that this is relevant especially, but I am also (as of 2022) back in sync. Val and I have been away for two weeks, but by the miracle of modern technology, plus by putting in a lot of effort to catch forward, I was able to set this machine to release them daily, automatically.

September 26th 1982

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No, he hasn’t sneaked aboard Thyme. Just an old picture of Dave, in his Mennonite days – “I see no ships!”

Against any odds that a sensible bookie would give you, Dick spotted us this morning, + by using a bit of diesel wind, came up alongside.  A few more pictures taken.  Then we played catch as catch can for the rest of the day.  First he pulled away from us, then we caught up, + finished the day by pulling apart again.  It really has been great company to hear Dick’s cheery voice booming in over the VHF – it makes me smile every time I hear him.

Today I read “Flashman – The Great Game” + really enjoyed it immensely.  I’ve heard of the Flashman books, but never before got round to reading any.  It was very funny, + entirely successful in making me both like and laugh with Flashman, I must read more of them.  By the way, altho’ cocooned in our little home upon the ocean, we keep up with world news.  The big thing at the moment is the massacre of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, + the degree of blame attaching itself to Israel.  The government there seems to be admitting more + more, as it becomes impossible to keep the lid on things.  They seem to have made a real cock-up of things, + I think will have done themselves incalculable international harm.

I cooked up a stew in the evening, but Doug at least was not really in a position to appreciate it, having hit the rum bottle even heavier than usual, + was really pretty sloshed – even Dick noticed that over the VHF.  Doug got very angry with a radio ham operator in Australia, who got on his high horse about not passing a message on to an Australian friend of Doug’s.  Strictly speaking, passing on a message to a third party is illegal, but with tact + diplomacy, it can be done.  Doug railed for some time about bloody Aussies… as well as bloody Kiwis, poms + Americans before stomping off to bed.  I don’t normally comment on such things, but I made love with Val (this in itself being something of a rare occurrence, given the needs to keep watch, lack of privacy, etc.) + tho’ I don’t like to boast about my prowess (especially since the rum Val had no doubt played its part) but Val slept so soundly afterwards that this time she slept thro’ her watch.  She was meant to get up + look round at 12, + then wake Doug… she slept thro’ till 3.30!  Rum-ti-tum.

At least a fuller entry, the fun and games with Blue Moves prov iding a rare note of variety into what are otherwise pretty dull days. And a spot of literary appreciation, though I never have gotten around to reading any more Flashman. And some political comment, though Israel seems to have survived any temporary international outrage. And then there’s Doug being somewhat the worse for wear, and taking it out on the radio. Ever since Dave, (Crusader Dave) we have had our concerns about the combination of booze and sailing. (Though Jack went to the opposite extreme, and that was no better.)

September 25th 1982

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Not a very exciting day – very few days at sea are.  It’s a popular misconception, I’d say, that the small boat sailor’s life is fraught with excitement.  It can be uncomfortable at times, especially if the weather is unpleasant or changeable, but much of the time is spent lazing around.  I finished an Agatha Christie book today – not one of her better ones tho’.  When the noon shots were taken, Thyme + Blue Moves were supposed to be one mile apart.  They weren’t tho’ – at least Dick was hiding if that was the case.  We had a fabulous lunch – Doug cooked up toasted sandwiches in a splendid little tool he has.  One was egg + onion, the other beans + onion – they were both marvellous.  Doug also cooked the evening meal – an oxtail stew.  Very nice indeed.  Especially since he’s not feeling too good, having picked up an unpleasant cold in Rarotonga.  I managed to make a mess of my night watch, oversleeping.  Mind you, I blame Doug.  We’re taking comfy watches right now, just a quick scout round every hour, + I wasn’t woken up properly.

Searching round for a scapegoat, I’d say – don’t really think I can blame Doug (good job he didn’t read this.) So once again, the highlight of the day is what we ate.

September 24th 1982

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Showing off the thing she used to navigate across the Pacific.

Overnight we lost visual contact with Dick, + suspected that we might have lost him altogether (not that we thought he’d sunk, you understand.)  However, he came thro’ on the VHF, + after he + Val had taken their noon sights, we altered course to meet him.  By no means a sure thing, since positioning by sextant is not an exact science.  However, to the amazement of nearly everyone, we spotted each other during the afternoon.  (Val had made a small error in her calculations, so he didn’t appear quite where we thought he would but who‘s going to quibble?)  And by late afternoon we were together.  First he lay to while we sailed past him + he took photos of us, + then we did the same for him.  He looked rather prettier than I imagine we did – Blue Moves is an attractively rigged boat, + Doug very rarely sails without two reefs in his main.  It’s not easy to get pictures of one’s boat under sail, so this was a great opportunity for both of us.  Val didn’t feel too good again today; in fact, she threw up over the side (mostly).  Still, she’d recovered sufficiently to cook steak + cauliflower cheese in the evening.

Sounds like I was the one quibbling – a touch of jealousy perhaps? But I am also dropping sailing terms into the account, which is about as close to being a sailor as I am ever likely to get.

September 23rd 1982

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Val and Doug

Particularly in view of the fact that we are now five days advanced from Sept 23rd – I still haven’t caught up on the old diary) it wasn’t a particularly notable day.  Still, I’ll write down what I can remember.  Very much to our surprise, Blue Moves was still with us.  Only on the radio, until nightfall, that is, when we switched lights on + could see the bugger again.  I was still feeling a little low, + Val was still feeling rather queasy.  However, I cooked up a roast meal with bangers in the evening, + that seemed to go down very well.  Which is about it for the day.  You will notice that seaborne entries are much shorter than landlocked ones.  It’s quite simple – not much goes on.  Oh, a Dougism, since we haven’t had one for quite a while – “I wouldn’t be dead for a million pounds.”

Absolutely, not much goes on. Until it does, I suppose, but fortunately we never really had to encounter anything resembling real danger. Used that same Dougism today (on the golf course, as it happens) and it raised a smile.

September 22nd 1982

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Chris aloft

I still felt pretty depressed, yesterday’s incident preying on my mind.  I am liable to get the blackest of moods, as Val could testify, + this was one of those occasions.  What makes things worse is that I am pretty sure Doug regards me as just so much dead wood on the boat.  And it’s not just that Val can navigate when I can’t – it also seems to me that he assigns to her any responsible jobs which are going, while I am ignored or fobbed off.  It doesn’t do too much for the old self-esteem.

Doug got our clearance papers in the morning, + we moved off about midday.  The pulling up of the anchor + moving out all went pretty smoothly, + we were soon out in the ocean blue.  It was nice to see that Dick on Blue Moves was off about half an hour behind us – it’s nice to have company.  Dick only has a VHF tho’, no ham, so we’re not likely to be together for long – it’s a very big ocean.  It was a very rough ocean too, + after having grown accustomed to the comforts of shore for a couple of weeks it was quite a shock.  Val generally feels a bit queasy the first day or two out, but on this occasion even I, normally with stomach muscles of steel, was feeling distinctly odd, + I had to lie down for an hour or two during the afternoon.  When I awoke, I saw Doug chomping into mince, beans + taters.  For some reason he didn’t seem to think I wanted any.  I soon put that to rights by demolishing not only my share, but Val’s as well (she wasn’t eating.)  I felt quite the pig when I’d finished.  After two weeks’ freedom, watch-keeping was a bind, but I survived with the help of 2 new tapes (we swapped 2 with Ganesh.)

Well wasn’t I feeling sorry for myself! But, as I have said on a regular basis, it is an accurate reflection of how I felt at the time. And I am not sure that it was very sensible to be quite such a greedy-guts. But all I can do from this distance in time is shake my head sadly.

September 21st 1982

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Helaine leaving (with Heather)

Today was the occasion of the only unpleasantness we’ve encountered with Doug.  Just after breakfast, when we were down in the cabin alone, he accused me of lack of consideration for others in drinking a couple of beers last night, since that upset the number of cold beers he had around this morning.  And it wasn’t light criticism either – he was clearly quite upset.  He made it clear he didn’t want me to drink beer in the evening, + suggested, or more than suggested, that I buy a case of beer.  Which is a curious reaction to the drinking of 2 or 3 cans of beer one evening.  The whole incident greatly upset me, first because it seemed to me totally unnecessary – if Doug wanted things done on his boat in a particular way, then all he had to do was ask, + I would be happy to agree.  Also, up till now, I’d felt perfectly comfortable living with Doug – he’d always seemed reasonable + good-humoured about everything.  Sad he’d swept that away with a few words.

We were meant to leave today sometime, so Val + I went over to take a shower.  We’d intended to go into town together, but she shot off alone as soon as she’d finished her shower.  When I came out I started to follow her but then changed my mind.  My heart wasn’t in it, + in any case I thought I’d better go + buy this beer before the liquor store shut, in case Doug wanted to shove off at lunchtime.  We didn’t, of course.  Doug was waylaid in the Hibiscus, + didn’t reappear till the afternoon.  In the meantime, Helaine, with Heather aboard, pulled out.  They had a good deal of trouble with their anchor – we were rather worried for a while, since we thought we might have hooked each other, but eventually they got themselves free + were off.  Dick appeared a little later with the news that we wouldn’t be leaving till tomorrow.  Doug was back a bit later, + then his friend Don + his wife Dianne turned up.  Quite a little party we were, which must have been the reason for tucking into the rum (not that a reason is ever required for drinking aboard Thyme.)  And we were even more of a party when Bruce + Sid off the freighter came out to visit.  I wouldn’t have minded too much except all the company meant we weren’t getting our dinner.  Eventually, Dianne dragged Don away, + Dick was staying anyway, so that just left Bruce + Sid who didn’t seem to be able to take any sort of hint.  In the end,  we just ate anyway, + after rabbiting on for ages about nothing very much, + trying to persuade us to come across to the boat (no way – we knew how that would end up, + besides we were too tired) they finally left.  Doug had cooked us tripe and onions, but I thought it was pretty horrible.  Still, Val made coffee afterwards + that was great, especially with ginger biscuits.

Ridiculous that a little bit of criticism should have thrown me off course so much. I think it was because I saw it as unfair. I had swapped a couple of rums for a couple of beers. And if Doug had had a problem with that he could have told me, instead of brooding upon it, as he clearly had. Ah well.

But also saying goodbye to Heather – only a short acquaintance, but we liked her a lot.  And, despite best intentions, another of those we were never to see again.  Don’t know what happened to all those addresses we had exchanged.