Penzance abeam

Sarah Grace goes to sea
Chris Yerbury and Sophy White
Mon 9 Jul 2007 08:12
 Progress at sea is hard to judge- the blue horizon surrounds you on all sides and the boat's wake peels off from the stern for days on end.The weather and sea state change, wildlife appears intermittently and the occasional ship passes. The changing insubstantial electronic numbers on the small GPS screen are the only actually indication of progress. For all their lack of substance, they hold a constant mesmerising fascination. Prolonged analysis of their rate of change takes place, directly affecting the mood aboard. The numbers are transposed on to paper charts as scruffy pencil crosses with a time and date in attempt to give them meaning.
 For the last 48 hours subtle tangible changes have indicated a proximity to land- sea birds have included coastal fulmars and gannets for the first time and there has been a marked increase in shipping. The numbers continued to change on the GPS and the pencil cross now has a place on a new chart, that of the Western Channel. The old chart, covering the whole North Atlantic from Brazil, Florida and Newfoundland to England, Iberia and north Africa and showing our wandering eastward track, has been opened on the nav table for the last two months but this afternoon was returned to the shelf. The new chart shows fondly remembered places and rejuvenates a host of vivid memories and stories from previous sailing trips as it covers the south west of England and the coast of Brittany- it even bears the track of our outbound passage across the Channel two years ago.
  This evening the lights of west Cornwall have appeared just after dark and the bright white flash of the Lizard Point lighthouse is ahead: real land, definite progress. Less than 60miles to Plymouth- we should be in harbour by lunchtime (monday 9/7/07).