N64,15.7 x W007,22.5 Force 2 SE.
Sarah caught a mackerel yesterday evening. She chopped its head off and gutted it and threw those bits overboard. Within seconds a small flock of seagulls had swooped down to feed on the scraps. The strange thing is that we haven’t seen a seagull for 24 hours until then. Where do they come from?

Whenever Sumara sails north she is always surrounded by a small group of fulmars. I like to think they are always the same fulmars and that they cluster around AIS screens waiting to see where the good ship will be.

We sailed once direct from Greenwich to Lofoten and had the same fulmars all the way. When we stopped they just sat in the water behind the boat. They are beautiful birds and very entertaining on a long cold night watch. They beat their wings a couple of times then glide around the boat often only inches off the sea. In all the months I have spent watching them I have never seen them eat anything at all or even put their beaks into the sea to drink. They never make a noise either. Occasionally an arctic skua will fly in an attack them but the fulmars gang up and chase it away. I’ve seen fulmars rescue other sea birds too. It is easy to take these things for granted but they are really very special.

Sarah and I ate the mackerel for supper, John is not a great fish eater so we had a big bowl of pasta too. I had omitted to record any radio plays to provide a little after diner entertainment and the best I could muster was a Melvin Bragg podcast on Thomas Edison. We hope Thembi’s evening entertainment was more exciting. Tomorrow we will listen to Under the Milkwood.

Yesterday evening Thembi was again spotted on our port beam and we had a chat on VHF radio. All is well. Now it is 0400 GMT and we are sailing with a gentle SE breeze on a calm sea. The air temperature and sea temp are both 8 degrees. Yesterday there was a 1.5 m swell from the north which slowed us down and made for a pretty unpleasant motion onboard. With these light winds we will struggle to get to Jan Mayen on time without burning a bit of diesel. We need to conserve as much diesel as possible for our onward trip to Greenland so we are being very frugal. On Sumara the current rule is “Don’t use the engine unless VMG is zero or less for more than half an hour”. We have motored for 8.5 hours so far.

Sent at 04.20 GMT Friday 1 July 2011

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