It’s daytime again, 1:30PM. I’ll probably finish this during my night watch.
But there have been some deep thoughts, on this day that is exactly a month from the day we left Cape Town.
We have gone about 4,000 miles, and have been at sea for 4 weeks. So we are basically doing 1000 miles a week. Not bad considering we haven’t used the engine much – well, only once – to get to St Helena before nightfall. And, considering that there are times when there is NO wind – such as now. The digital readout is showing .02 knots. the boat is moving .02 knots, sometimes a few tenths of a knot more. Actually, it just went to .00 wind and .00 boat speed. So we are well and truly becalmed, and have been most of the day. There are still swells, so the boat rolls and creaks, as the boom and the jib and the main all have their way of saying, “We’d be much happier with a little breeze!” It’s also very hot – 104.
As for deep thoughts, one thing that has been most beneficial during this journey is the absence of the nattering and chattering fear mongers. I am not missing them. I did at first, addicted as I am – as we all are – to the “news.” But a month at sea, dealing with the immediate environment, living a “basic” life, depending on a self-contained vehicle for our survival, my perspective is changing. (In Cape Town, because of the political volatility the country is going through, they call yachts “escape pods.” Somehow this seemed like the right place to mention this.)
The big question asked and endlessly answered by the news is “Will we survive?” As in, “Will we survive this? And this? What will become of us?” When you get away from it for a while, you realize that you already know the answer, and there is comfort in the answer. And, if you actually accept it, and believe it, you don’t need the fear mongers anymore.
I remember a scene in the Merchant Ivory movie, A Room with a View, where the eccentric father and his son are at a picnic in the Italian countryside. The son, in his early 20s, is usually moody and quiet, to the point where he turns paintings around in his hotel room and puts a big question mark on the back of the painting, and also made a big question mark out of the peas and carrots on his plate, and showed it to the heroine when they first met while eating dinner in the dining room of the hotel. But then he fell in love with the heroine, and his life changed. She hadn’t joined the party yet, of course – that was the suspense in the story – but George had been infected by love. While in the country, he climbed a tree and started shouting, “Love! Hope! Beauty!” or some such words. His father, supping on a picnic blanket with several other men, said something like, “Don’t mind George. He’s just discovered that on the other side of ‘Why’ is the Eternal YES. YES. YES.”
Well, I’m here to tell you, that you can find the YES out here, even with no wind, no apparent progress, and the simplest of living arrangements. It is all around. It is real. It is love at work, making it possible to share that love with the ones we love, to help each other, to shift from fear and worry to calm, loving confidence. It is possible, and it is more real than anything they can put on the airwaves.
Speaking of real, just aft of me is a fairly healthy squall. It is coming to me faster than I can outrun it, since the wind is zero. When it gets here, the wind may increase to as much as 20 – and we’ll probably be doing heading pirouettes while it happens. So I will sign off now, to bring in the plants and start getting ready. To prepare. And guess what? We will survive.
Current time: 4:30 AM
Current position: South 2 degrees, 3 minutes, West 30 degrees 11 minutes
Well, when it came to that squall, I was the coffee. I was completely prepared when it showed up, and the wind went from 0 to 16 in a matter of seconds. You can see the wind on the water, coming towards you. I closed all the ports, and changed into my bathing suit and windbreaker, and gybed the boat because of the squall’s wind direction.
The wind never got above 16 – 18 knots, so even with the mainsail fully employed, it wasn’t overpowering. I hand-steered from the cockpit, and rode the wind in that squall. It was fun. One of the nice things about Horizon is if you get going too fast, you can always bear away – turn away from the wind direction – and she will start to slow down. So when the squall winds were sending me into 10 – 12 knot territory (boat speed), I could easily tone it down a bit. Maybe someday I will get used to how powerful it feels when we get to 12 knots, but for now, 10 is fast enough for me. I feel like it’s easier on the boat, that we’re not pushing her to her limits. And, after we get safely home, I’ll probably feel more comfortable going faster.
After the squall came through, there were a few brief moments of breeze, but we are now becalmed and have been for hours. 0 knots of wind, 0 knots of boat speed. The GPS says we are doing 1.3 knots, “over land,” (the sea floor, in other words), which must be because of a current. It’s certainly not due to the sails being pushed along by wind.
I thought I saw a squall behind us, but it’s hard to tell in the dark. So the situation could change as soon as I hit “send.” The moon has risen, but it is behind clouds.
Some have asked about the stars. There are more than I’ve ever seen, even in the desert. They twinkle. The Milky Way is like a big rainbow of soft light, spreading over our heads, going (basically) from east to west.
One of the handheld GPS units is in the oven, safely stored in two joined metal loaf pans with lots of aluminum foil around it. Philip did that to protect it from lightning – we’ve seen a number of flashes. Before we left, I should have gotten a pot for it, with a metal lid. Every boat Philip has ever been on has one, for that reason, but I’m afraid the only pot lids I have are glass with a metal rim. So that was disappointing. Something I should have done but didn’t. Hopefully the loaf pans will work fine. When lighting is around, we’re also not plugging in our computers.
Hopefully we will find some wind soon and will be zooming along again. Matthew says there’s more to the west, closer to the coast, so I have turned the boat in a more westerly direction, hoping to catch what he sees on the weather maps.
Philip ate the last of the Woolworth’s éclair dessert last night (although he’s saving one for the equator), so I’m starting to work on the dessert mixes. Some require eggs, so I will bake those first – the eggs are starting to go. I get 4 good eggs out of every 9 or so now. The yolk is sticking to the side of the shell (which is why you rotate them every couple of days, while storing them – so as not to let the yolk stick to the shell). We’ll miss our eggs and bacon breakfasts, but it might be a blessing – it can get pretty hot in the galley, especially when it’s raining and we have to keep the overhead hatches closed. There’s plenty of cereal and milk for breakfast.
One last thought…I can see why seamen thought there were ghosts and mermaids. When you’re alone at sea like this, and the water is completely calm, there are a lot of little noises, and sometimes a line creaking in a block sounds exactly like a voice. Eerie.
Philip and Kristin