Somewhere else instead.
Mon 30 Nov 2015 12:21
Sometimes, especially at night when Phil's off watch and there's just me, Lochmarin, an upside down bowl full of stars and an awful lot of ocean, I get a sudden flash of how very very small all 55ft of Lochmarin is, compared to the massive amount of water we're floating on and being blown across.
I zoom in on the chart and see the occasional sounding, it's 4545, 4016, 4689 just now. That's more than 4 Km of water under us, and it goes on for over a hundred miles in every direction. Magnificent! Of course, as Douglas Adams knew well, what we can't afford to have is a sense of perspective: if I could actually get my head around the scale of things properly I probably wouldn't be out here. In fact, it doesn't matter how deep the water is under us, as long as there's enough water to keep us afloat, and it doesn't matter how far away land is as long as we're not going to bump into it. Lochmarin is strong and sea kindly and we're not just bobbing along, we're managing the currents below us and the wind around us, harnessing it to travel across from one part of the world to another, just as people have for hundreds and thousands of years, looking at the same stars that I am now, to check we're still going the right way.
Sailing is a magical sort of traveling. You enter into this other world, passage world, which is a little bit floaty, a little bit dreamy due to the tiredness of always broken sleep, plenty of ropes to pull and being in the fresh sea air all the time. It's made up of long periods of nothing much happening then bursts of intense activity - and sometimes marathon times when you have to push yourself to keep going, keep doing what needs to be done, however tired you are. Then you emerge, a little spaced, after a day, a night, a few days or even a few weeks and you are somewhere completely different. Then you're back to earth with, not so much a bump, more a wobble as you find your land legs again and catch up on sleep. Lochmarin is rather like C. S. Lewis' World between the Worlds, which is a place you go to to travel to new worlds, by jumping into one of the thousands of pools there. Phil and I only have to hold hands, take a deep breath and jump to find ourselves in a new world to explore, returning after a while in order to jump off into another one.
When you're on passage you're not really anywhere. You're in between, just like that World between the Worlds, we're not in Vanuatu, we're not in Australia, we're in international waters, belonging to everyone and no one, and we could simply decide to change direction and end up somewhere else altogether. Even as I write down my position for the log, I see it changing before my eyes. What was 28 degrees 25.257 minutes South becomes 28 degrees 25.344 minutes South in the time it takes to write it down and look back up. Time on passage is precious time out time, in our own bubble on board, a part of the sea and the wind and the weather, but not a part of anything else.
"And all sorts of funny thoughts run through my head: it isn't really anywhere, it's somewhere else instead."
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