Silent Night

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Wed 23 Sep 2009 11:25
Noon Position: 34 41.3 N 006 30.9 W
Course South Sou' West Speed 2 knots
Wind: Northwest, light air .
Weather: Sunny and warm
Day's Run: 97 miles

After enjoying a fresh to strong breeze for much of the day to the extent of having to put two reefs in the main for a few hours, by midnight the wind had done its usual trick and fallen off so that at 1.00 this morning I resorted to the drifter, handed the mainsail and rolled up the jib. Since then we have been averaging only two knots. But what a glorious night, the moon had set early and the sky was ablaze with the milky way, the mild temperature and light air perfect for snoozing on deck

At 3.30 a.m. we were disturbed by a spotlight shining on the boat. I could hear the throbbing of diesel engines but no lights were evident. I could just make out a dark silhouette a short distance away. Again it shined a spotlight on Sylph, and I shined Sylph's spotlight on it, which revealed a small grey hulled vessels with large white numerals on the bow, a Navy patrol boat. A voice shouted out "Channel 16". I acknowledged the hail and went below to answer the call. After switching to a working channel (channel 16 being for calling and distress calls only) the vessel identified itself as a Moraccan naval vessel and asked me the usual questions - name of vessel, port of registration, last port, next port, how many people on board. My answer for the next port as usual was, "I don't know, I haven't decided yet." I must have an unique way of getting around because this caused a bit of discussion but when I explained my method of seeing where the wind sent me and deciding as I went along they seemed satisfied. And the "Persons on board: one" answer invariably produces an exclamatory response. The radio operator spoke very good English which made things simpler. When I haven't decided a destination I should just pick one that I am contemplating but 3 a.m. is not my best time for making such snap decisions. All questions answered they bade me good night and, still unlit, slunk off into the night to continue their prowling patrol.

All morning we have continued to sail slowly under the drifter. I am hoping a sea breeze may pick up later but I'm not holding my breath. We find ourselves off a section of Moroccan coast with nary a sign of civilization in sight, enless sand and dunes, so unless the wind picks up significantly soon it looks like another night at sea.

All is well.

Bob Cat:

I knew it couldn't last, back to the hard tack today. I give my most pitiful cries but to no avail, I have a hard case for a skipper. What do I have to do I ask myself. Still, we survive, and I must not let such hardships get in the way of my work, no more distractions for today . . . Zzzzzzzz.