A Milestone

JJMoon Diary
Barry and Margaret Wilmshurst
Mon 8 Jan 2007 11:57
A large milestone has been passed.  The log now shows a greater mileage than “distance to go” on the computer.  We are over half way; at least as far as distance goes.  We have been very fortunate with strongish favourable winds for the first week and it would be unreasonable to expect those conditions to continue throughout.  We are currently bowling along in about 20 to 25 knots as we have been doing for much of the time.  The sky is bright but it has just as often been overcast.  The weather is warm but not hot.


We cannot see Our Diary because we do not have a fast enough connection but I should say that the boat speeds shown in the boxes over the position flags are wrong – I think there is a bug in the software.  We have actually been doing about 6 to 7 knots much of the time; something over 150 miles per day.  The courses shown seem about right.  Our preferred course now brings the wind dead astern which is an uncomfortable point of sailing so we have to head off 10 degrees or more.  This will slow our rate of progress towards our destination somewhat even if the wind does keep up.


Sleep poses problems.  The mate has not yet made up her mind where to establish her nest.  I sometimes see her ghostly form passing through the glim of the nav. station lights with her duvet tucked underneath her arm.  She is on one of her migrations.  The double berth in the aft cabin has a large lee cloth divider for use at sea but there is still room in each half for a fair bit of slipping and sliding about.  However, creature comforts are near at hand and personal nick knacks all about.  The saloon berths, on the other hand, are snug and suffer less motion but one is subjected to the terrible cacophony of creaking, groaning, banging, rattling, slurping, mysterious tapping and other noises, each of which might presage the keel dropping off or the mast falling over the side.  It isn’t easy.


When on watch at night the mate sings hymns quietly in the cockpit.  This is charming except that in my befuddled state I am not always sure from which bank of the Styx the angelic voice is coming.  I spent the middle watch the other night listening to The Dream of Gerontius on the Ipod.  Out here a thousand miles from anywhere it frightened me nearly to death.  Unlike the tale of poor Aida and Radames, heard two nights previously, the Dream is sung in English and one can more or less follow what is going on – and very strange it all is, too.  I have decided to leave it well alone until we are safely tucked up in a secure marina.


The Ipod is a wonderful innovation for the boat this year.  All our CDs are on it, or could be, and it saves all that locker space and “feeding” the machine.  When in harbour we play it through the ship’s amplifier and car-type stereo system.  At sea it keeps us awake at night.  Feeling like a snooze?  Try the Regimental Band of Her Majesty’s Coldstream Guards.  That will make you sit up and take notice.


As to the ensign, a correspondent has been in conference with another bar-room lawyer in a land far away beyond the Bosphorus and points out that we are five hundred miles from the nearest ship and not obliged to wear an ensign on the open ocean anyway.  Quite right, but the poor barky would feel denuded and bereft without her colours.  It wouldn’t do.  Anyway, our correspondent goes on to describe the hot, salty tears of proper national feeling coursing down his cheeks as he watched from a foreign hill one of Her Majesty’s brave fighting ships leave harbour with an absolutely colossal white ensign streaming out astern.  His breast heaving and his knees trembling, he had to sit down quietly with a double malt to recover his composure.  Quite so.  Now, here's the rub.  In two weeks or less we hope to be dropping our hook in foreign waters.  Will another proud Englishman watching from a nearby hill be moved to tears?  Probably.