Guest Blogspot by Peter "Golden Boy" Barker

Mina2 in the Caribbean - Where's The Ice Gone?
Tim Barker
Thu 10 Dec 2009 15:06


So, we’ve been at sea for nine full days now, sailed over 1200 miles and there are still 1000 left until we reach Salvador, Brazil.  The strangest thing about the whole process is the fact that I’ve not seen land for almost ten days now.  Without any reference points to look at it’s hard to get a perspective on the fact that you’re travelling to anywhere at all.  It reminds me a bit of the final scene in The Truman Show when he sails and sails in an attempt to reach new land but eventually just bumps into the edge of the film set.  There’s no way of gaining any real sense of how far we’ve gone aside from the navigational instruments on board, so it’ll probably come as something of a surprise when we finally reach Brazil in just under a week’s time.


Aside from the lack of visible land, another thing I’ve had to get accustomed to is the array of sailing jargon that gets used on boats.  The other day Neil and I overheard my dad warning Venetia that he was about to start ‘cracking off’.  Oh no, I thought, we’ve only been at sea for a few days and it’s already come to this.  But upon further investigation we found out that ‘cracking off’ in sailing terms just means to let the sails out.  Thank god.


Our days are neatly divided into three hour segments, during which each person takes it in turns to do a watch.  During the daytime it’s fine, as everyone’s up to keep you company but at night you’re on your own.  It’s at times like this that I knew my i-pod would be an invaluable form of entertainment, so before coming out I diligently created a ‘Sailing’ playlist with songs carefully chosen to inspire me with awe as I gazed out across the majestic ocean.  Anyway, two nights in, after I’d just listened to Christopher Cross sing movingly about how ‘sailing takes him away to places where he needs to go’ the screen went blank and it died on me.  I was gutted.  All wasn’t lost, however, as my Dad kindly offered me the use of his i-pod, so I now have a plethora of new music to choose from, which is great, so long as I’m in the mood for either The Carpenters Greatest Hits or any one of about twenty different Heartbeat Compilation Albums (who knew they made so many??), or, perplexingly, a whole album of cover versions sung by John Barrowman (why is he everywhere??).  My dad says that he bought the album for someone else but barely a conversation goes by without him regaling us with a John Barrowman-related anecdote and even has a John Barrowman-themed board-game, so I’m not sure whether or not I believe him.


Seeing as there’s not much to look at outside the confines of our own boat I thought that I’d spend most of my time reading books but, for some reason, I seem to be too distracted by nothing much at all to engage in any sort of mental activity.  I’m able to spend an inordinate amount of time just staring out at the sea without ever getting bored.  Maintaining a vacant _expression_ for hours on end, staring catatonically into the middle-distance probably makes me look a bit moronic, which isn’t helped by the dodgy £2 haircut I got done in the Cape Verde Islands just before setting sail.  They really went to town on it with some clippers, despite my repeated request that they do it in the style of John Barrowman.  Ever since then I’ve been trying to counteract the lack of hair on the top of my head by cultivating even more of it over my face in the form of what I hope might be a rugged, nautical-style beard but which, if past attempts are anything to go by, probably just makes me look like a geography teacher, or an Armenian man.


I’m also slightly concerned that the nights spent sitting on my own up on deck with only my thoughts for company are having a bad effect on my mental state.  A couple of nights ago, exhausted, I was keeping watch and slipping in and out of sleep.  When I looked up, I could have sworn that standing just one metre away at the helm was none other than John Barrowman, steering us gracefully across the rolling seas while singing a jaunty version of ‘Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.’  I don’t think I’m going to listen to my dad’s i-pod anymore.


Anyway, I’ve gone on for longer than I thought I would, so I’ll leave it there.  I’m just going to pop back on deck and crack off for a little bit.  Happy Christmas to you all and hopefully see you in the New Year. x