Nyaminyami II Blog Tuesday 15.12.13 - 1200hrs
By Chris Haworth and Graham Pike.
An absolutely fantastic days sailing yesterday! Spini up at Dawn – 15 kts form NE in morning sunny and warm 20kts most of the afternoon Graham and I competing for fasted top speed surfing down waves regularly in the 10kt bracket and at the time of writing I had an 11.1 kt and he claims a 11.11kt.... Hang on the instruments only read to one decimal point! 24 hr run = circa 170 miles – Leader has ‘gone’ but very close between 2nd and 3rd...But were not racing!
Overnight mixture of stars clouds and a few squalls up to 30knts at times - now got reef in and slightly furled genoa. Goose winging at average bt speed of 7.5kts (breeze slightly moderated now to 17/22knts!) Wind is slowly veering into the east otherwise same conditions forecast for today so sleigh ride continues ....Yeooooo! Major incident of the night was Jane was hit by a flying fish whilst helming ...a fatality... for the fish! Luckily it hit the radar gantry first and bounced off to skim Janes forehead ...we were disappointed she didn’t catch it her teeth..
Dinner last night was Rum punch sundowners and nibbles followed by Corn beef Hash with Mash...did Jane cook that or was it one of the guys? Followed by cheese & biscuits and a quarter of apple each...are we on rations now..better get there quick!
Before proceeding I should have mentioned 2 things, amongst all of natures other goings on, I almost neglected to mention 1. the flying fish...they are amazing creatures and so plentiful. Basically as the boat approaches they fly out of the water in all directions. I presume they think we are a threat and their technique for escape is to swim at high speed shoot out of the water (presumably to avoid their usual pursuer being a larger fish/dolphin/whale?), spread their ‘wings’ which are like long scaled fins, and glide in an erratic fashion to evade their predator. Sometimes they all take off in a ‘flock’ (or a shoal?) zooming in all directions some seem simply to glide – a surprisingly long way (I would guess up to 50m depending on the wind) and others seem to flap their wings/fins – there seem to be several varieties as their size and wing span and flight characteristics seem to vary. Fascinating but there are so many of them we have clearly started to take them a little for granted. Unfortunately we have found a couple deceased on the deck in the morning, which have clearly leapt out of the water and unbeknown to us landed on the boat at night. Although sad to find them, very interesting, anatomically, to see them close up. The other thing I haven’t advised is the depth of the sea out here! Apparently the biggest mountain ranges on earth are under the Atlantic Ocean there is a significant north south aligned range known as the Mid Atlantic Ridge bit like the Andes or Rockies ..only ‘higher’ seems funny to think we are sailing over them and at times there is nearly 4 miles of water underneath the hull!
I have been reading a book about the Atlantic Ocean given to me prior to the trip by my great friend Bill Clare (an ocean going man of sorts.....he doesn’t know that yet as currently he rarely ventures out of Chichester Harbour but next time he takes me sailing he might get a surprise!)written by Simon Winchester who points out that where as in the 14th & 15th Century the Atlantic was an Ocean of a fearful reputation, dangerous, unknown and only to be tackled by the bravest or most foolhardy of men....today ‘It has become on much more intimate terms with humankind – and that it seems has much to do with the present state of shore bound civilisation, a condition of existence to which the Ocean is now seen as the very antithesis. So to many nowadays the ocean is thought of, as a place of refuge from the numerous cares and wants of the landlubber. With the trials of modernity the sea has come to be regarded as a place without crowds, the dirt, or the want, of a modern urban existence; a place well beyond the pollutions of industry, money and greed....’
Certainly I can vouch for some of that, and it is good to be away from the phone, constant emails, ‘normal’ life, but there is also something else, which is difficult to put my finger on, I think I have probably touched on it in earlier blogs – it is not just an ‘escape’ it is so much more! I give you the words of Bernard Mortessier, he is the French guy, who when leading the very first single handed (non stop), sailing, circumnavigation of the world race, on arriving at cape horn with only the transatlantic to sail (and he most surely would have won) ....carried on around the southern ocean again (For those interested Robin Knox Johnson went on to win the race and was in fact the only finisher)* :
“I am a citizen of the most beautiful nation on earth. A nation whose laws are harsh yet simple, a nation that never cheats, which is immense and without borders, where life is lived in the present. In this limitless nation, this nation of wind, light and peace, there is no other ruler besides the sea”
....He wrote a book I think called ‘The long way round’ I am intending to read it on my return!
Graham has offered this verse of similar quality?
I carry Mother Earth and her waters in my heart
The Wind in my body
The compass in my head
And the rocking of the waves fills my soul with Peace
With these fine thoughts and words the crew trust you will have a very contemplative Tuesday - we will be practicing catching flying fish.. in our teeth!
From the increasingly delirious crew of Nyaminyami II - Love and best wishes to all from us all!
*I can strongly recommend a book about the race (in fact it is more about the people and circumstances that the sailing itself) entitled ‘A race too far’ sorry can’t remember the author but it is relatively recent – should be able to access it from any good book store or Amazon!