Draft: Nyaminyami II Blog Monday 08.12.13 - 1200hrs
By Chris Haworth – with contributions from the crew
Blog Subject of the day: (There can only be one)– FREEDOM!
The subject simultaneously entered both mine and Grahams mind after we delighted in being joined by about 30 dolphins on Friday afternoon. It was not the classic encounter of dolphins jumping the bow wave, zipping around and alongside the boat as we were only doing about 1.5 kts in a flat calm! They appeared someway off on our starboard side and a gentle tapping of the winch handle (on the winch) attracted them over – they were just lazily swimming along probably at no more than walking pace in several groups but all roughly together. As they got closer we realised just how many they were. They varied in size and It seemed to us there were several females with their young and a ‘big daddy’ (we reckon about 15ft long) who seemed to be the leader. They came round and gently swam initially behind us but gradually a few swam close alongside the boat and fwd to the bow – I have never seen wild dolphins before but Jane said this lot were fairly timid. It is an interesting thing that although we had all been feeling a bit ‘down in the dumps’ about the lack of wind and the forecast (for no wind!), our spirits were immediately lifted, we suddenly felt joyful and happy and didn’t care how fast we were going! Beautiful and graceful, and in an inexplicable way, we felt a ‘connection’ with these amazing creatures – is that just a romantic notion ingrained in us from childhood? (in my case perhaps in particular from that brilliant and loveable Australian children’s series of my youth ‘flipper’) or some other primeval connection from our DNA (they say we crawled out of the Ocean) Or perhaps the stars (I’m a Pisces...that’s for you grandma Eve) or some kind of ‘spiritual’ connection ...another dimension?
The overriding sense, both Graham I were independently left with, was that of Freedom, Freedom to roam over the vastness and depths of the Ocean. No daily worries of our temporarily forgotten existence back home, (from Graham: no taxes to pay, no parking tickets, no road humps) just free. A wonderful thing to behold.
Later that evening when we heard of the news of Nelson Mandela’s death – the subject of freedom chimed LOUD with our earlier experience. I don’t know if blog readers have ever read a ‘long road to freedom’ (Mandela’s life story) but it is an educational and inspiring book. Despite all the obvious issues it raises, for me, the most amazing aspect of Mandela, and that which makes him one of my heroes is/was his capacity to forgive. I can’t remember how many years he was wrongly incarcerated (30?) of which numerous were spent in ‘solitary’ but on his ultimate release, the fact that he had not turned bitter or vengeful against the regime and people who visited such injustice upon him, is not only incredible but gives me some hope for humanity. Do I forgive with same generosity and humility?
When I was quite a young boy I struggled with the notion that any other human being had the right to limit the movement of another. I had an intrinsic feeling that I was born a citizen of Planet Sea (Earth) not of England, Britain, Europe or for that matter Russia, China, America... or anywhere else. It seemed to me the idea that I wasn’t allowed to go to Eastern Europe (at that time) or other places, unless some politician somewhere said it was OK, was all completely wrong...and I hold to that now. I would not expect such communities to support me in any way I am talking about fundamental rights and who has the right to order or limit the freedom of another human in such a way – and by what Authority? I have therefore always been cautious of the ‘nation state’ that seems to reinforce such notions of differences between peoples of the planet (‘ownership’ of territory and ‘people’)....that famous quote ‘all ownership is theft’ comes to mind (I prefer the approach of the Aborigines and Red Indians ...no one owns land). Similarly Religion, which far from ‘setting people free’ through its ‘teachings’ frequently falls into the same trap of ‘Telling’ or commanding ‘its’ followers, imposing its leaders or most zealous followers ‘will’ on others. Limiting human freedom and in my opinion capacity. I appreciate the benefits organising different societies via democratic political institutions but when they start limiting their citizens for the benefit of the ruling classes – something is very wrong! – ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’ (thoughts of Apartheid S.A., China, the former USSR, Animal Farm & 1984 come to mind). It is perhaps easier to perceive the injustice of the denial of Freedom on an individual like that of Mandela who is a great example to us all, but there are lots of other less well known individuals standing up for freedom, incarcerated unjustly all round the world today - They are worth considering standing up for.....I am a long term supporter of amnesty international ...I think the dolphins would be members, if they could be!
Graham continues to work on his Christmas carols but advises that he has abandoned his versions of ‘ark the nyaminami angels sing’ and ‘we saw three yachts come sailing in on Christmas day in the morning’ ...as at this rate it is more likely to be new year! ...he has also returned to some philosophical verse writing....to come soon.
Graham advises that since Jane, for reasons of modesty failed to report Fridays ‘creation’ we have two menu delights for you today:
Friday: Roast Devonshire lamb, roasties, Leeks in white sauce and gravy (..we felt ‘free’ of the Friday fish diet convention) Fra forget the mint sauce (unlike Rosie Adams) accompanied by a fruity Portuguese Red (3 for the price of one from the Makepieces) followed by Danish Blue & Brie on ‘hob nobs’
Saturday: Fillet Steak with garlic mushroom sauce, rice with sweet corn & onion and sautéed cabbage, washed down with a bottle of Spanish Red and (back by popular demand) homemade chocolate ice cream.
Both meals preceded by Rum sundowners and nibbles and succeeded by coffee...Ground, decaff or caff – your choice!
Graham and I are charting a route that ensures we arrive in St.Lucia the day the food runs out ....not a day before!
In the last 24 hours we have been through the doldrums – no wind for 18 hours but at about 0400 the wind started to fill in from the north we now have 12/15 knots NNE, Spinnaker up and 7knts of bt speed – expect to carry this for the next few days, hopefully all the way to the finish ..could be good run in Gribs show strengthening breeze from the NE (i.e. coming behind us 20/25 kts so could be a sleigh ride home for Christmas.
Late yesterday afternoon we encountered a turtle that appeared to be resting on the surface ..he wasn’t injured and when we circled him for a close look he dived deep. This morning, shortly after dawn we were joined by another Pod of (this time) blue nose dolphins ..a classic encounter ... they were smaller and very playful, skitting all over the place riding the bow wave ..stayed with us for half an hour before turning North – same uplifting experience and quiet joy.
Out here on Nyaminyami II in the middle of the Atlantic, despite four of us living in reasonably confined conditions we have a strong sense of freedom and we shall toast Nelson Mandela, Amnesty International coupled with the Dolphins over Dinner tonight.
Love to all from us all