NIKKI CURWEN: Five days down, five to go!

NIKKI CURWEN: Five days down, five to go!

Tuesday March 26 2013 Author: Artemis Offshore Academy Location: United Kingdom

Artemis Offshore Academy Mini-ist Nikki Curwen updates from the middle of the Med. half way through her 1000nm (+300nm to Genova) solo qualifying passage. 

I’m currently drifting in lights airs of between 0-5kts and there are 13.9nm between me and the fourth mark, Carbo d’Artruxt. I’m moving, very slowly, along the north edge of the island and have been trying to get around the most westerly point for the last 48 hours now. Yesterday the wind was up to around 30kts from the west and then swung round to the south-west, which meant a very slow beat upwind in the pouring rain. Today the sun is out, but the wind is light and the waves are big, so big in fact that they are pushing the boat forward and then rolling it back even further, so I’m now looking forward to seeing the mark, which is in fact a lighthouse and the near by island of Palma. Nick Cherry is currently training in Palma for the Princess Sofia regatta and I’m hoping that if I give him a big wave on my way past, he might just bring me out an even bigger sandwich...

Saying that, in a hair brained stroke of genius, this morning I discovered I had packed fresh eggs in with my food! I think I must have put them in the wrong food bag, as having six raw eggs breaking below deck could have been a nightmare… However, only one egg had broken and the spillage was contained, so this morning I have enjoyed three boiled eggs for breakfast! I’m actually enjoying all of my food so far, I have not been eating as much as I have rationed myself as I’ve been busy battling the weather, but the boil-in-a-bag meals have been great and I would go as far as to say that the steak and veg and chicken casserole meals have been amazing. My only disappointment so far has been the risotto, which was like dust and swiftly thrown overboard. 

After three days of being battered by heavy rain, 35kts of wind and gusts of up to 45kts, I was very happy to see the sun and a friendlier 18kts this morning. My first thought was CLEAN SOCKS, although I am currently airing my feet out on deck right now. The wind has now dropped away completely, so I’ve turned the boat into a mobile clotheshorse with all my kit and sails drying out on the deck. I’ve been sleeping on the spinnaker like a giant sponge, using it to soak all of the water out of my clothes. I lied when I said I thought I couldn’t get any wetter on Sunday, because on Monday I did get wetter. My spinnaker has so far served me well as a sail, a mattress, a giant tea towel to dry down the deck and the biggest towel I have ever used. It’s now drying out on the foredeck ready for the next downwind stint as we round the island later today.

Although I have not actually been bored yet, I think that I am now starting to go a little mad. I keep hearing a radio on the boat and searching everywhere for it, but I have now come to the conclusion that it is in fact in my head. You’d think that my own internal radio station would be irritating, but I’ve been enjoying the fun Spanish music they play all day. I’ve not seen any other boats for a while now, there has just been a lot of sky and sea, but whenever I start to think about being alone the dolphins appear. I’d like to think that it’s the same dolphins following me on my journey and keeping me company, but I’m sure it’s really a different pod each time. They jump very high while they play in the spray and with the Mini being so low, I keep waiting for one of them to jump ‘Free Willy’ style over the bow. I spend a lot of time filming the dolphins and encouraging them, “higher guys! Come on, higher!”

The last three days have been so full on that I’ve not really had time to be bored or hungry, so I’m eating a lot less than I have rationed for. I’m sleeping well too, sometimes for up to five hours a day, getting up every 10 minutes to check the boat. I’ve found sleeping in the middle of the floor down below with my feet up is the best position, as I can stretch out and stay clipped on and it’s dry. It’s not really been the weather sleep on deck yet.  Sleeping well has meant my teeth-brushing habit is currently standing at just twice a day, so just your average hygiene routine really.

I am starting to slightly lose track of the days, but I know it’s Easter soon and before I left I thought ahead and hid three Kinda eggs below deck so that I can have my own “Mini” Easter egg hunt!

On another note, I am gutted for fellow UK Mini-ist and friend Luke Dampier who earlier this week had to abandon his Atlantic 1000nm qualif due to an auto-pilot failure and was airlifted straight to hospital in Ireland with hypothermia. My thoughts are with Luke right now and I hope he recovers quickly. Events like this really put things into perspective, anything could happen.

Right now, the wind has picked up to about 5kts and I’m expecting it to build to around 15kts overnight and into tomorrow. I’ll send you a photo when I get to the lighthouse!

You can follow my passage via the Artemis Offshore Academy website, Facebook and Twitter

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