With Pidgy’s tent at the forward end of the cockpit seat, I could not see him from below. I missed his beady eyes, so, after cleaning up after him in the cockpit, I made a new tent at the other end of the seat where he would stand in the entrance and, no doubt, laugh secretly at me as I cleaned up his mess.
Through London I got a message from Martin about the engine. He keeps the Buckler’s Hard garage, and has a flair with engines. As a result I succeeded in pumping current into the batteries for half an hour, but the result was scarcely noticeable. I had a desperate feeling of futility when I thought how every hour’s charging used a gallon of my precious petrol, and of the seemingly endless and tedious chores I had to perform every time I started or finished charging.
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That afternoon my back went click. It was very painful to move about. I feared that it was the start of a disc breaking out as a result of struggling with the gear-lever bolts with my back arched under the cockpit. I decided that if I could avoid another sudden jerk or twist, it might get no worse.
That night was a rough one, and next morning I was tired. I looked up at the rigging and around the deck, and thought that this kind of sailing was becoming absurd. There were no fewer than thirty ropes of different kinds coiled up or in use for my sailing. It seemed mad not to have a simple rig like Blondie’s one junk sail, and a few ropes to operate it. I went forward to change my working jib down to a spitfire jib and then in the middle of the operation changed my mind, and reset the working jib; that was a sure indication of fatigue. I only ate one meal all day, another sign. However, I had made good by that day over 1,000 miles from Plymouth on a Great Circle course from the Lizard, a third of the distance to New York. One thousand miles westward in ten days was one ambition I had achieved. If only I could keep that rate up! Of course sailing conditions so far had been good for the Atlantic, but how ridiculous to be depressed or feel tired; especially with my back better, for which I was very grateful.
Pidgy looked disgusted; what a life for a bird! Streams of water were sluicing into the cockpit, the air was wet and windy. During the night he had moved from his new camp and stood on the seat beside the companionway, but I had to move him back for fear I should tread on him. He tried other spots, but he was in the way wherever he went, poor devil. I debated taking him into the cabin and putting up with his indescribable mess, but then I thought, ‘Surely a bird is used to the open air’, and contented myself with making his tent as snug as possible. I gave him a box full of muesli which was his favourite food (except for the raisins which he threw out, just as my son Giles does). A big wave gave his den a fair washout, and swamped the rest of the muesli. I gave him another plateful in the tent, but he just sat outside waiting till that too had got soaked. That night I was woken frequently by crashes and once wondered if something had broken or come adrift, but all was well. Gipsy Moth was sailing at 6 knots through rough water. During the night Pidge seemed quite happy, squatting inside his wigwam facing the entrance. He chattered his beak silently at me when I spoke to him. I ate a handful of dates and an orange in my berth. My nails were worn too far down to peel the orange, but I managed by starting it with my teeth, and finishing with the ball of my thumb. On the whole I had an easy night, which did me good.