ARC 2015 - Day 19 – Dec 9 - A Whale of a Tail

Steve and Lynda Cooke
Thu 10 Dec 2015 21:31

15:27.00N 55:36.05W

Day 20 – Dec 10

A Whale of a tale

During the long night hours the crew have been occupied studying the night sky. After due consideration the view has crystallised that there are many constellations undiscovered by astronomers. In the spirit of scientific endeavour Mark and Steve have set about identifying and cataloguing some of the omissions. To date the constellation of The Spotty Dog has been found and observed over several nights. Following on quickly came Dino The Dinosaur which has also been confirmed over multiple evenings. A claim by Mark for The Horse has been disallowed by adjudicator, Peter on the grounds that there is already a horse. The most recent discovery is particularly timely in the form of The Christmas Tree identified by Steve just two nights ago.

Creative attention has now been focussed on the cloud formations with great results so far including, ducks, birds and various members of the Simpsons.

At dawn today a proposal came from Steve for us to gybe the mainsail. Based on previous experience the five minute rule was applied (wait five minutes to see if the wind changes back again). Time expired so time to gybe. Our typical downwind sail setting is for the foresail is 'poled out' from the mast in a goose-wing configuration with the mainsail.

So in order to gybe, the foresail has to be furled, the pole dropped and re-erected on the opposite side of the mast constrained by various lines in carefully considered angles – up, down, fore and aft. Mark, Peter and Mike are despatched to the foredeck in preparation. Steve furls the foresail and the pole dance starts. The first attempt is neat and well executed so the foredeck team feel pleased with the efforts in threading the various lines correctly. Standing on a moving deck trying to maintain balance whilst raising and lowering the pole is a comic dance for the onlookers.

Sadly, Steve is not happy with the first dance and asks for adjustments to the pole – more forward and higher which are duly made. Steve decides too much pressure, or turning moment, is being applied to the outboard end of the pole and suggests that the block should be on top rather than beneath the pole. The foredeck team drop into standby mode. Discussion ensues. After a short while Peter and Mark notice that the rest of the crew is engaged in a grannies meeting around the aft steering position. Please make your mind up goes the cry from the front.

Twenty minutes pass and a concord has emerged from the grannies meeting. Mike comes back to communicate the desired arrangement with the block on top of the pole. In short order this is completed and duly signed off by Steve with a thumbs up. Nina seems happy with the outcome.

After the fraught start the day passes very well with sunshine and calm(ish) seas and of course fair winds duly captured by the sail configuration and converted into great VMG to WPT. The crew are comfortably arranged around the cockpit enjoying the sun. Peter is scanning the seas for signs of life, most often seaweed. However on this occasion he spies the tail fluke of a whale as it buries itself into a wave just off the starboard bow. 'Whale' is the cry which brings members of the crew to attention but sadly the shy creature fails to repeat its appearance.

'Changes in latitude, changes in attitude …' - a conversation overheard between Frank, Mike and Chris a few nights ago celebrating the fact that we only had 950 miles to go and that we were now heading for home, underlines how this voyage has changed our perceptions of distance at sea. To Frank and Mike, a 150 mile overnight trip to Ibiza in their shared boat has always been a reasonably serious undertaking to be planned for accordingly. At this point in Nina's voyage, '950 miles to go' almost feels like turning the last corner towards the home straight – hopefully signifying a change in how we view longer voyages in future. (Needless to say we can only adopt this slightly blasé attitude as we find ourselves on an immaculately prepared ocean-going boat ….)

Finally, here's an entry from Chris for the Nina School of Creative Writing:

A Night Story

for my grandsons Theo and Jack

and dedicated to all children whose loved ones are participating in the ARC

The boy, safe in his bed, dreamed. He dreamed of being in a small boat with a small sail, gliding across a moonlit sea. He sailed along the silver path laid down by the full moon, across the little waves and under the soft glitter of the twinkling stars. His boat sailed on gently, with the water lapping quietly at her sides. The wind blew softly and evenly, not cold but caressing.

A family of dolphins started playing round the boat and the boy smiled and laughed to see them racing each other, jumping over the waves and chasing each other around the boat. After a while the boy began to feel hungry and he said to the dolphins “Do you have anything to eat?” The dolphins spoke to each other in their clicking speech, and dived away. The boy felt lonely after they had gone – he loved watching the dolphins play.

Then with a glitter of silver fins and a spray of water, a school of flying fish jumped clean over the boat and plunged into the water on the other side. One poor little flying fish didn't manage to jump far enough and landed in the boat. The fish lay on its side in the bottom of the boat, gasping. The boy picked the little fish up gently and put it back in the water. The boy said: “Do you have anything to eat?” The little fish looked at him and swam away quickly.

A shadow flew across the bright moon. The little boy looked up and saw an enormous bird gliding on outstretched wings across the silver path on the sea. The bird circled round the little boat once and landed neatly on the front of the boat. With one large bright eye, it looked at the little boy and his boat and opened its mouth. The boy said: “Do you have anything to eat?”

The bird let out a huge screech, unfolded its great wings and started to flap them. The wind from the bird's wings was cold and biting, and the screech echoed across the sea, harsh and shrill. The bird flew away down the moon's path, its wings beating the sky into great black clouds that swallowed up the stars and darkened the moon.

The wind was cold now and getting stronger. The waves were getting higher and rougher and the little boat was rolling from side to side as each wave hit it. The light from the moon and the stars had gone now and the little boat was being blown along into the black night before it. The boy was frightened; cold, wet, hungry and scared. He huddled in the bottom of the little boat as the waves started to splash over the sides and fill up the little boat.

The little boy called out for help as his boat started to sink. Then from out of the darkness came a beautiful white boat called Nina, her lights shining bright in the darkness, a promise of safety for the little boy. And his grandfather's hand reached down from Nina's side and pulled the little boy up into the safety of his arms, wrapping him in a huge cuddle that warmed and dried the boy. The boy nestled in to his grandfather and felt safe and warm and loved.

Nina took them back to the safe harbour where waiting on the dock were all the people the boy loved, welcoming him home.

The boy smiled in his sleep and turned over in his warm, cosy bed.