Night-Cat Rambling's - 36:11.52N 05:15.73W

The Return of Irene III - 2018
Louis Goor
Sat 16 Jun 2018 02:16
Friday 15 June 2018 (Johnny Frey, Stand-in for the Locum, he's about to

Today I thought I would share with you one of my special experiences.
Nothing exceptional, just a simple encounter from an over-excited sailor on
approaching the Gibraltar Straits. I wanted to share these thoughts with you
because they left me breathless and absolutely contented to my inner soul.
It is a humble descriptive allegory of a moment-in-time which I have been
blessed to encounter.

Having spent a number of weeks at sea, there is always a shared exhilaration
amongst the crew when nearing landfall. We are very aware that land was not
far away. Some time ago, we had passed Cape St Vincent, on the south-western
tip of Portugal. Thirty or so miles off our port beam and just outside of
our visual range. Nevertheless, we knew that tomorrow we would be going
through the Straits; Europe to one side and Africa on the other. Two
continents, less than seven miles of separation.

On this night both Donald and I had swapped our watch times. This evening I
was on duty at 21.30 (23.30 CET). The sun had fully set and John had already
been on watch for some time, enjoying every minute of his being. Top-side.
The sailing, the seas, the surroundings, all was perfect! We had had 19 -20
knots of warm-wind to our port beam with an average speed of 9/10 knots and
very calm seas. Ideal sailing conditions. "Okay, now you can wake-up again .
that's the techy stuff finished!"

As I mentioned before, I joined John on deck at 09.30pm, on the evening of
Tuesday 12 June. Incredible sailing conditions. John and I love these times
and often sit-back and soak-up the atmosphere - no talking, just soaking.
Lots of soaking! A night of cloudless skies with no moon. We were enveloped
with a motionless mantle of stars, glimmering against a blanket of
uninterrupted blackness. The glittering heavens were so resplendent that it
was difficult to make out the commonest of constellations. To the south
there was a swathe of a million stars and galaxies forming the "milky-way".
Truly breath-taking and awe inspiring. I was drawn into it. Mesmerized by
its depth and beauty. I couldn't help but to stare into the cosmos and
reflect on my own insignificance within this wondrous universe. One tiny
entity of energy amongst the vastness of the heavens!

Driven along with steady winds, Irene III glided on the surface of the sea,
cutting a path through the waves. Sweeping back the surf to her gunnels
causing an electric, phosphorescent stream on her margins. Leaving a transom
trail of a million twinkling-lights as she excited the night surface squid.
These diminutive creatures light-up the waters with fleeting, dancing
fairy-lights, mirroring the heavens above. No sounds, no noises, just

A burst of shooting stars. Everyone a wish. An occasional interruption from
a traversing satellite or fleeting airplane. A serene "capsule of time"
which I was privileged to have occupied. I felt that I was wrapped between
the sheets of a Disney story-book!

All this magnificence, while we pirouetted between a cacophony of warships,
tankers and cargo ships, all converging to enter the Straits as we marched
down each wave to our expectant waypoint.

Wednesday 13 June, the Rock is in sight. Jubilation and childlike excitement
as we make our approach. Calculated to harness a slingshot from the ripping
tides as we entered. Phones and cameras at the ready whilst John darted,
ducked and eluded a myriad of fast-moving ferries which crossed the
continents with regularity and rapidity. John sensed the inner rush of
adrenalin pulsating through his veins. A huge smile on his face, playing
with his tongue as he negotiated left and then right, then left again. The
Rock of Gibraltar is a little under-whelming, but it is OUR "mile-marker".
Memories snapped. We have spanned the Atlantic. Again!

As we salute the Rock, Champaign is called for, flutes are resurrected from
distant cupboards, corks "popped". Irene III took the Atlantic in her
stride. She embraced every challenge put in front of her and she came out
the other side with a strength and elegance of a well-groomed, but
determined Lady. On behalf of her crew, we are indebted to Irene III for
carrying us to safety and with a degree of comfort only afforded by the best
of yachts. Cheers to Irene III. I thank-you. The crew thank-you.

Cheers Johnny