October 3rd 1982

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Rarotonga – another inappropriate to the actual time photo

The entries get shorter + shorter, don’t they – as the actress said to the bishop.  (That’s a Dougism, by the way, tho’ hardly original, I’ll admit.)  Today just about the same as yesterday.  Despite not having to cope with watches, I slept rotten.  For two reasons: first, because for the first part of the night, we were hit at regular intervals by rogue waves, unexpected bastards who’d come booming in, filling the cockpit with water, + giving the boat such a belt that it felt as tho’ we were travelling about ten yards sideways every time.  There were three particular monsters of this ilk, which was quite fair, since that meant each one of us had a chance to get up to check for damage.  The first time that it happened, I thought we were on our way to sinking, there was such an almighty crash.  Secondly, because I couldn’t stop itching, all over – I’ve been like it for about a week now.  At first, I thought I’d picked up some fleas or similar unpleasant creatures, but now think that it’s far more likely that it’s some sort of allergic reaction.  Not that I’ve been noted for such things in the past, but there’s a first time for everything.

The day, when it finally arrived, was more of the same of what we’ve been experiencing lately – heavy seas + strong winds from precisely the wrong direction.  Ah well.  I read a couple of books – not really worthy of comment tho’, I’m being very lazy.  I did start to revise the story I wrote, but decided that really it needed re-writing from a different point of view, then promptly put the job off till another day.  I’ll never be the new Graham Greene at this rate.  I’ve had some good ideas for things I want to write lately – whether I’ll ever get round to writing them is an entirely different matter.

It looks as tho’ it’ll be at least another week till we reach NZ.  This is much longer than Doug had anticipated, so he has said we must be much more careful about food.  Obviously, fair enough.  Unfortunately tho’, as part of this regime tonight it was the dreaded macaroni cheese again – ugh.  And then after dinner Doug began to comment on the extent of my appetite.  He wasn’t nasty about it, + was a bit pissed, but one could detect a definite edge.  It’s unfair, I feel, but what can one say, without sounding like whining self-justification.  Ho hum.

I’ve had some interesting dreams lately, by the way.  My friend John Burman was teaching me latin.  That’s one.  There was another very involved one about us travelling, + meeting a guy who had a guitar which converted into an organ.  And a dream of Val’s in which I was keeping a record of the different meals we’ve eaten by pressing the foods in the pages of a notebook.  Strange.

Hm – despite the violence of the seas, Val and I still felt no real apprehension, which may simply show our lack of awareness of the danger. More ideas about writing, rather than writing itself. This does also remind me how dull other people’s dreams are; after all, nothing actually happened. But there is some hidden awareness that actually, this diary is very largely a record of what we ate, even if kept in a more conventional way.

October 2nd 1982

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Palm trees on the Cook Islands

Not much of a change really.  The weather was still pretty miserable.  Not that it rained a great deal, but the wind was so strong, + consequently the seas so heavy, that we had to keep hauling in the jib + laying to, ie just sitting there.  About the only good news we got was that West Ham had beaten Arsenal 3-2 away.  Maravilloso.  Apart from that I slept some, + cooked bangers + mash + a sort of ratatouille – very tasty.  I enjoy working in the galley even in heavy seas.  Other good news is no watch-keeping tonight, not even of a “ get up and have a quick look round” variety.  Do hope the weather picks up tomorrow tho’ – I am anxious to get on.

Photos for a while will be of postcards we sent back home at around this time – though obviously not from the boat – that would have to wait. And for longer than we had hoped, with the weather seeming to alternate between dead calm and raging storms… neither of which were carrying us any closer to New Zealand. But since there was nothing we could do about it…

October 1st 1982

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Rough seas

A not particularly notable, not particularly pleasant day.  The weather was pretty bad virtually all day, + built up to a nasty storm in the early evening.  (It’s 10 pm now, + we’re still being thrown about – makes it difficult to write.)  We heard from Dick on VHF for probably the last time – we were able to have a reasonable conversation in the morning, but later on when he called we could do no more than acknowledge each other’s presence – the signal was too broken up.  Still, he’s told us to contact him in Auckland, so I’m sure we’ll do that.

I read two complete crappy novels today – I must try to spend my time more productively.  Val + I bickered – we’re living too close, I think.  And nice tho’ Doug is, I won’t be sorry to part from him.  He’s patient with people + impatient with things… which is probably better than vice versa, but is wearing for us, who have to listen to him slamming tools around.  He cooked curried eggs tonight, which was nice, but he would keep getting angry at the heaving sea.  Something more futile it is difficult to imagine.

A certain amount of tension on board, so it would seem, with no opportunity to get away from each other.

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.