In the morning, for some reason, I laughed at Pidge. To my surprise he was sensitive about it, and much disliked it. He stamped to and fro, chattered his beak and gave me dirty looks.
12 June. I woke at 5.30 in the morning to find the ship headed north, and cursed at having to get up. But I fell asleep again, and woke two hours later to find the heading east-northeast. Horror! I was headed for Iceland – not the way to increase the daily average run.
John Fairhall of The Guardian in London gave me the positions of the known icebergs which I had asked for. I wanted to know how far south they came, so that I could plan my route.
New York Map World Atlas Photo Gallery
While charging the batteries I noticed that the motor’s speed varied, suddenly running much faster, then slowing right down. After forty-eight minutes of charging there was a loud ‘plonk’, and the propeller slipped into gear. I switched off immediately. The cord holding the shaft had snapped. I found steam blowing through escape holes in the gearbox and the clutch. They were so hot that rain dropping on them sizzled. The clutch must have been partially engaged. The truth was that this engine was not built to freewheel for more than a minute or two after starting up.
The biggest penance I suffered through the failure of the charging motor was due to the paraffin riding light I used at night instead of electric light. Unfortunately my Old Faithful of the 1960 race had been broken, and I bought what I was told was the best riding light to replace it. What I suffered through that lamp! Night after night I spent from half to one hour trying to get it into the rigging alight. In the cabin the slightest jerk put it out instantly. In the cockpit any sudden puff of wind extinguished it. If only I could get it fastened to the backstay in a steady wind before it went out it might survive for several hours. I tried warming it up in the cabin before venturing out, using a higher or lower flame and filling it only half full. How I cursed the makers of that lamp! How I damned the designer, and wished he could be brought into the Atlantic to try making it work. 13 June. Great sailing! A rough breaking sea, with Gipsy Moth crashing through fast and strongly as if she loved it. Great sailing, but not for Pidge; I saw the look of disgust on his face when he caught a wave (I think he must have been a crabby old bachelor). Sometimes he seemed to give me a malicious look. Later when I went on deck I found that the log had stopped, and at first was puzzled why. Indirectly Pidge was responsible. I had given up stowing the coiled ends of the ropes in the lockers under the cockpit seats because Pidge fouled them up so horribly. I had left them coiled on the deck beside the cockpit coaming. The seas breaking on deck had washed them overboard, where they had tangled with the log line. Ropes trailing in the water are used to slow up a yacht, so that this must have cost us speed. On top of that I spent hours untangling the log line with its thousands of tight twists. A lot of clear white sparkling sea was coming aboard as I did so; it was blowing a gale though the sun was shining. I could not be sure how long the log had been out of action. 15 June. Pidge! Pidge! Pidge! He ruled my life then. Every morning I had to feed and water him as soon as I emerged, before I trimmed the sails and got the ship back on to her proper heading. I couldn’t bear his forlorn beady look. Then I would notice the various messes on the cockpit seat, which I’d tread in while handling the ropes, so I had to go round and clear all of them up before getting to work on the ship. During the night, even if I darted out in an emergency, I had to shine my torch round and locate Pidge before stepping into the cockpit for fear of treading on him. That morning when I fed him, and gave his tabernacle another covering, he let me stroke him, so I reckoned that he must be pretty fed up. He looked like a sick jackdaw.
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