Sadie, seabirds and sweat.
Sat 13 Aug 2016 03:30
We're back trusting the instruments. All around us there's nothing but water from us to the circular horizon. There's nothing to say we're moving: we can't watch a landmark go by. So we trust in our compass and our chart plotter, with our sextant for back up if all else fails, and hope that we're not sailing around in little circles.
Being in the centre of sea and sky means our world is painted in shades of black, blue, grey, silver and white. At night, the sea is grey touched with silvery starlight or painted with the path of the silver moon. The sky is midnight blue with pinpricks of white, or streaks from shooting stars. As the sun rises everything fades into grey until, as she raises her face above the horizon, the world is transformed into silver. It looks a little like a sheet of tinfoil, one that's been lightly crumpled then stretched out again, only it's moving continually, in peaks and troughs and dimples and whirls. As the sun climbs higher the blues return. The sea is a dark deep blue, almost purple, the sky is a rich grey blue, and the foam has become bright white, painting accents on each crest. If the sun breaks through the clouds just where we are you can look over side and watch the beams of light slide down into blue the colour of the bluest eyes. The sky becomes baby blue with a ring of white fluffy clouds circling the horizon.
But last night after the moon had set the clouds blanketed the stars, and it was a world of black on black. Black sails against a black sky, black seas with black foam. Peering out into the rain it was hard to sea where sky met sea. Morning came with no silver, just grey on grey against grey.
In the evening, just before sundown, 8 Boobies gathered. I guess they'd been asking around and our previous passenger had said we were a good bet for a night of sleep, with excellent toilet facilities provided (the whole cockpit had been splattered). It was going to be a wild one and they wanted a place to be able to tuck their heads under their wings. But settling on Lochmarin was rather difficult what with strong winds and 2m waves making her roll. The top of the mast waved about making it impossible to dodge the shrouds and stays. One tried the solar panel but she simple slid backwards when the boat rolled and fell off again. They weren't giving up. Hours passed and night fell and they were still trying to land, again and again. On watch I looked up at the masthead to see the eerie sight of red birds to port and green ones to starboard, wings spread wide as they hovered over the tri-colour navigation light. One made it onto the spreaders before dawn, there was plenty of room for more but he screeched at all comers, waving his wings, jealously defending his hard won bed chamber. At least we provided some respite for one bird but we felt sorry for the others. This morning Phil is busily designing Boobie perching systems in his head, preferably hanging over the side to ease the toilet issue, in case we ever have 8 Boobies wanting to stay the night again.
Sadie is steering for us, and doing beautifully I might add. Our trusty wind self steerer keeps us with the wind just off our stern. We don't have to keep checking if we can make any more Westing, we know that if the wind backs Sadie will follow it around. Every now and again one of the bigger waves will thump into us and pivot us sideways, then we cheer her on, watching our heading on the chart, as she steadily pulls us back on course. Twice, in the night, she lost it in the squalls. Too much wind to pull the boat back through, too many big waves giving her a hard time, so Otto (the auto-helm) gave her a rest. But today we shelter from the rain in the pilot house confident she'll keep us on track. It has been steadily getting warmer as we sail North. Last night, even in the wind we only needed shorts and tee shirts. Today, with the hatch battened against the rain, the pilot house is decidedly steamy. Another reason not to trouble with cooking today. Three sweaty bodies eager for the rain to stop so we can get a breath of fresh air into the place. Luckily it's shower day today.
Day 5- Lunch:Tuna pasta bake, with green beans, cherry tomatoes, boiled eggs, anchovies, capers and spinach. Supper: Chicken and rice soup, with ginger, garlic and sugarsnap peas.
Day 6- Breakfast: Croissant. Lunch and supper: left overs? Canned soup? Not sure yet but I'm not cooking in squally 3m seas!
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