Today the crew aboard Zhuhai had an interesting lesson in the global economy...

At 1200 UTC it was recorded in the logbook that we had three vessels all converging on our position at the same time! All three were tankers, ranging in size from 183m to 250m. The Compass was southbound, from Europe to Brazil. The SKS Mosel was northbound, to Las Palmas, and the Stolt Sycamore eastbound to Durban. To be fair, we couldn't see clearly enough but the Compass was most likely in ballast, going to pick up a cargo. The question, though, was surely ‘would it not have been more sensible economically for the SKS Mosel to take her cargo to Durban and the Stolt Sycamore to change course to Las Palmas?’. Perhaps they could both have trans-shipped their cargoes to the Compass who could have done just one round trip? No doubt there is an economically sensible reason why the same cargo is being carried in opposite directions, but that answer lies beyond the understanding of us mere mortals.

Between 1300 and 1400 UTC we were making a steady 9 - 10 knots directly along the track towards Punta del Este. All seemed fine aboard the good ship Zhuhai… and then at 1500 UTC the logbook has an entry that simply says ‘rain’. This doesn't do justice to the deluge from the sky. For a while I thought we might have sunk, there was so much water around us. I was almost ready to get in the liferaft! (NB: Joking, we were fine.) At the helm, I could have sworn that I was blowing bubbles every time I breathed out. The long and the short of it is that when the squall passed we were left with almost no wind, a lumpy sea, and no boatspeed as we crossed 05 S and entered the Dell Latitude Rugged Ocean Sprint section of the race at 1527 UTC!

An hour later, there was a small break in the clouds and Pan Yue managed to get her first ever sight using a sextant. Given the tricky conditions it was quite remarkable that she was then able to ascertain our position to within 3.5 nautical miles! (OK, for the purists, she got an LOP that passed within 3.5 nautical miles of our GPS position).

By 1700 UTC the wind had returned, and since then we have been averaging between 10 and 12 knots, with only one hour in the last 12 being recorded as an average speed below 10 knots. Glorious conditions.

Three more ships on the AIS this morning: The 300m cargo ship Goliath westbound towards northern Brazil, the 190m long cargo ship, Liberty, bound for Sao Francisco do Sul in South America, and another northbound vessel, the details of which are still coming through.

I have always had a fascination with the seabirds that surround us each day, and consider myself to be quite knowledgeable on the subject. And on this voyage it has been great to have Robert East as an even more enthusiastic ‘twitcher’, so it is with some amusement that we read some of the other Skipper blogs regarding the bird life around them. It seems that for Qingdao, all seabirds are one form of gannets or another. The closely-related boobies are simply referred to as gannets, whilst the frigatebirds are apparently long-tailed gannets and skuas are short-winged brown gannets.

So far, the most common bird we have seen out here has been the brown booby, but today we were treated to the sight of a small flock of masked boobies. Interestingly, one of the other boats (I'm sorry, I forget who you were), reported seeing red-footed boobies. The masked and red-footed varieties can be confused at long range, but as both types breed on the nearby Fernando de Noronha, it is quite possible that we did see different birds. Our little flock was harassed for a while by a magnificent frigatebird, which is what frigatebirds are particularly good at doing...harassing other birds.

Our three watches have now been given more descriptive names:

  • Dad's Army plus Sophie
  • Animal Farm
  • and The In-betweeners

Animal Farm includes a frog - Robert ‘Ribbet’ East; a hyena - Ina ‘Hi, Ina’ Baum; a lion / cheetah -Harriet ‘lying / cheater’ (she is quite competitive and will do almost anything to get an advantage) McDonald; and a bird - David "is it a bird, is it a plane? No, it's SuperDave!" Fortune!