Looking Out Cape Town to St Helena
23rd-24th March 2021
During the day I stand on the saloon seats to watch our watery world speeding by; yesterday Zoonie was skimming along on a smooth, gently curving skateboard sea, and every few minutes I view the scene from the cockpit and over the sprayhood; but at night the area of the companionway is my lookout post. Standing on the bottom step, clinging on for dear life, I can see to the horizon if it is even vaguely visible in the gloom, as it is now the moon is waxing.
Are there any lights, near or far? That is the question. Go one step up the ladder and careful not to bang my head on the sliding hatch cover, it wouldn’t be the first time, I can see forward through the big windows either side of the mast and cover the whole area as Zoonie obligingly sways from side to side. Through the transparent companionway wash boards, the horizon astern is in view and often reveals ships moving out to overtake us, but not of late.
Last night in my lookout position, one elbow resting on the step, I worked out that with only her genoa out and pulling, if a gust were to get the wrong side of it and push her off course she wouldn’t go far because the sail is in front of the mast, and the next gust would push her back again, whereas wind power in the mainsail could push her sideways on to the waves into a broach position; not that I’m worried at the moment because the waves are not big enough to do her any harm, and the main is tucked safely into the mast anyway. I find it reassuring to work things out, to understand what is going on, even if I need correction later on.
Shearwater and petrels are with us, checking our wake for disturbed fish, two of which landed on board a couple of nights ago. Yesterday I went into the foc’sle to ready the Diva for her appearance up through the hatch and onto her stage, when I was met with a strong smell of fish. Rob said knowingly “I reckon its in the bag,” and he was right, as we rummaged through the folds of her dressing gown, right at the bottom was a very dry, dying flying fish, (actually it was well dead but I liked the assonance and contradiction) busy shedding its scales. The other one was in the scuppers and both were too far gone for the pot. It must have fallen into the open bag while the Diva was performing the night before. This night that is barely gone we were keeping a special lookout for Jori as she is just a few miles away from us, and a close encounter would be very embarrassing.
At the changeover onto my watch at 5.00am we snuffed the Diva as the wind was picking up and the genoa is back in business. The Diva because she is attached with soft ropes and can swing with the wind and waves, always gives Zoonie a smooth ride, like a mother’s hand on her baby’s cradle, and we have both had a number of very peaceful hours sleep as a result. It’s bliss, how much better one feels out of the oceanic washing machine.
Just 532 miles to go at around 130 per day, enjoy the maths.
We have been fortunate enough to see one White-Chinned Petrel, but concerned there was only one as they usually flock together in good numbers to fish. Sadly, they go to where there is long line fishing activity and die by the thousand day and night, so although they were plentiful 15 years ago, I don’t know how healthy is their population now.
The wind has gone light but trustworthy today, 23rd, so Henry is working with the Diva in a generally northerly direction at 3 – 4 knots, it’s all progress and we are treasuring our last days of ocean sailing. It is a rare breed of people who love deep sea sailing in short company or in solitude and we are a part of that breed.
Back to Chris Packham and Megan McCubbin’s book ‘Back to Nature’ and in a brief moment he alludes to the carbon footprint of East African safaris in comparison to European Safaris now being offered by Rewilding Europe, and of course I agree that the distance flown adds to the carbon footprint, but I’d still love my grandchildren to see lions, rhino, giraffe, elephants, wart hogs etc in their rewilding reserves before these animals are pushed beyond the brink. Maybe we’ll go by sea.
The companionway is open at night now that we are in the tropics and night times are as warm as daytimes are hot. So, we are having our meals out there if it is calm enough.
When the Diva is flying all is quiet except for one weary groan, I think the halyard at the top of the mast, and the hissing and bubbling of water disturbed by Zoonie’s hull. No carbon footprint here Chris, just harmony with the elements as each one of takes it in turns to sleep. How often can we experience that?