Becalmed ...

Caramor - sailing around the world
Franco Ferrero / Kath Mcnulty
Tue 17 Mar 2015 18:59

00:09.3N 26:00.7W

Becalmed ... no sound, no smell, no breeze on my skin, everything is still, simply nothing.

It is very dark, the moon hasn't risen yet. I shine my torch into the water, the beam of light bounces back off the surface, it cannot penetrate the unfathomable depth.

I wait, I listen ... silence. It is as if the world has stopped.

Caramor is still pointing in the right direction but we are drifting, going nowhere, a tiny dot in the middle of this huge vastness.

We were hoping to tip-toe through the doldrums, unnoticed by Neptune, god of the sea. We've been caught out now.

The moon rises behind a cloud and pokes its rays into the warm water of the ocean before showing its face. It is beautiful and I decide to take its photo. Several frames later I give up, my attempts make the moon look blurred and out of focus.

I enjoy being becalmed (for a few hours, not a few weeks), I love the sense of stillness which is both peaceful and unnerving, time becomes meaningless.

I expect a whale to breach in the moonlit ripples any minute now, no whale obliges.

The moon and Venus swap sides, how very odd. We have lost steerage and are pointing north, wallowing in the languid swell.

Franco emerges on deck for his watch. We decide to motor, the engine doesn't sound right and is underpowered. We will try again in the morning. I turn in.

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Monday, 16 March 2015

Franco dives in (bravely) to check that the propellor hasn't been clogged up with sargasso weed, I scan the horizon for fins and rehearse in my mind what I would do in case of shark attack. He returns, all limbs intact. The propellor is clear.

I take a dip too. The water is warm and very blue but there is something unsettling about swimming in an ocean, we don't dare go far from Caramor, our life capsule.

Franco cleans the water filter, the engine gurgles happily.

Caramor sails like a swan, she motors like a battering ram, ploughing through the swell without regard to its shape. Because of the heat, it is 32 degrees Celsius, we need to ventilate the engine by opening the cockpit lockers, the noise becomes mind-numbing. The cabin slowly turns into a sauna.

In the Canaries we watched other boats prepare for their ocean crossing, with disbelief we counted the additional fuel containers strapped to their railings. Motoring in Caramor isn't fun.

The wind teases us, a mere wisp of a breeze, it strengthens to 6 knots, straight in our face, we hoist the sails, the wind disappears. Again and again this happens until we decide to ignore the vexer.

33 hours and 160NM later, we are still motoring but are hopeful, the worst of the doldrums is behind us.

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Sunset in the doldrums