The Jewel handles well even close to the wind

The Jewel handles well even close to the wind

A fine sailing day

27th February 2010

Ship’s Log

The crew gave a cheer when Captain Saleh announced we had covered 66 miles in the last 24 hours–our best day for some time

A fine sailing day today with steady winds from the northeast and clear skies. As we sat down to our evening meal of pasta and canned tuna fish, the crew gave a cheer when Captain Saleh announced we had covered 66 miles in the last 24 hours–our best day for some time.

Much of the morning was devoted to two tasks: wrapping the fore- and back stays with baggy wrinkle (to reduce chafing against the sails), and moving as much cargo weight into the aft section to improve the ship’s handling. As a Master Rigger in the Oman Royal Navy, Said Al Tarshi is often called upon to perform the most difficult jobs aloft so today he wrapped the baggy wrinkle. The rolling of the ship meant that he was swung back and forth during his task, forcing him to hold onto the backstay with one hand while trying to wrap the baggy wrinkle with the other. After considerable effort, he completed the job and returned safely to the deck.

Most of our cargo weight comes from the 110 jerry cans of water we carry in the Jewel of Muscat. The members of the port watch were given the job of moving as many of the remaining full jerrycans as possible to the aft (rear) section of the ship. Our hope was that by reducing the weight carried in the front of the ship, the bow would ride higher and the stern would sit lower in the water, thus providing better rudder control. It is not easy to carry full jerrycans on a rocking ship, but the crew did a fine job of shifting a considerable amount of cargo around to make room for the jerrycans. The results of their efforts have indeed improved the ship’s steering.

In the early afternoon we were treated to a visit my perhaps 200 Risso’s dolphin. They approached from the west and swam off to the east. Risso’s Dolphin are large–up to 3.5 meters–and tend to live in deep water. They feed on squid and can remain submerged for 30 minutes as they pursue their prey to depths of over 1000 meters. Although our visitors didn’t bow-ride as Common Dolphin sometimes do, a few curious individuals lingered around the ship and seemed to delight in swimming back and forth in front of us. I’d like to think that mariners in the 9th century enjoyed seeing these splendid creatures as much as we do.

A much smaller but more surprising sight this afternoon was that of numerous brown butterflies fluttering westward over the sea. It was hard to believe that butterflies could travel hundreds of miles from land, but there they were. Unfortunately none of them landed on the ship so we weren’t able to examine them closely. Perhaps we’ll have a chance to do so in the next few days.

Large swells are now coming in from the northeast suggesting that we shall soon experience stronger winds from that direction. As long as they are not too strong, their arrival will be good news for us.

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