Please! Anything but the doldrums…I’m even ready for a storm (he said flippantly)!
About 3 am, I nearly got rolled out of bed when Ressie very nearly did a wheelie down a wave. This is a major squall. A wind alarm has gone off. As I dimly reach consciousness, I realise Ressie is fishtailing down waves at up to 18 knots, the wind indicator says 27 apparent (so add that to the boat speed – gulp) and I’ve got to reef. Now.
The night is pitch black, the rain is fierce and horizontal, the waves are coming across the deck each time we get side slammed. Fortunately, Ressie is a docile thing – I turn away and run before the wind and then slowly grind the main down to the 3rd reef. Welcome to the trade winds!
This is not exactly what was advertised, but the squall was short lived and now Ressie is loping along with a full genoa and storm-sized main. I’ve got everything strapped up to keep the rig tight – both backstays and the inner forestay are all ground on tight, and Ressie is averaging an easy 9 knots. It is squally, though – every now and then we get belted.
Suddenly I am getting dangerously close to halfway. In distance terms, we still have nearly 2400 of 4000 nm to go, but in the trades, Ressie will average 200 nm/day – so 12 more days. That feels like a doddle. The good news is I am likely to arrive about the same time as Hans and Astrid on Zwerver, so we’ll be able to celebrate together, and then wait for the fleet to come in, probably several days later.
I’m still waiting for the predicted mid-trip blues. Everyone said it would feel like a marathon; that I would have periods when I would feel down; that the boredom would be really hard to bear; and that, in the middle of the trip, it would feel like I am making no progress. They said I would need to have plenty of books and other distractions. The truth is just so very different. Maybe I am seriously weird (this is likely) but I am not feeling any of that. Not at all. I am starting to think that it will all be over very quickly now – almost too quickly.
Maybe I don’t feel too isolated because I have contact with other boats, and there is some kinship there. Maybe it is because I feel so very comfortable in Ressie after all these years. I am sure I’ve developed a 6th sense about this boat, and I’m making fewer handling mistakes. Maybe it comes off the back of a wonderful but exhausting 8 weeks of intense socialising. Who knows? But I didn’t expect this.
What I do know is that there is something incredibly spacious about having this time out. My mind can meander, without needing to really complete a thought or finish a to-do list. I feel like I am nudging all sorts of things along slowly and playfully, a bit each day, whether it be looking after the boat, getting fit and more flexible, pondering the next chapter of life after 60; wondering about the insanity of modern suburban life; worrying about the planet. And then of course there is each day’s killer sudoku; my radio schedule with the mad Spanish; a bunch of emails; dealing with my water maker crisis.
I am slowly winning that battle, but I have scars. I’ve been laboriously going fitting by fitting, ensuring each seal is good, replacing the plumber’s tape, checking for bubbles in the lines and so forth. I’ve read a technician’s field manual that may as well be written in Russian. I’ve disabled a vacuum sensor upstream of the feeder pump, and that has at least allowed the electrics to work. Most importantly, though, I’ve found a technician friend at Spectra who has offered to help remotely. In the meantime, it is operating properly, albeit slowly. I just don’t trust it!!
Still, I’m chalking it down as a win, and as far as I can tell Ressie is otherwise in rude health.
My diet is also weird. Cancel that – the actual diet is fine, but it is not the crap I usually eat. Just now I’ve chopped up a huge pile of veggies to roast with a piece of salmon. Not a piece of red meat in sight – I have these lovely steaks in the freezer and I can’t stomach the thought. I’ve not touched them. I’m not eating toast. There is an unwritten pizza ban. I’m down to 1 small pot of coffee each day (true!), partly because I don’t feel the need to stay awake at night. I wake up more often but then go straight back to sleep.
So, I think I can confirm that I’m weird. Copy that. Cup will be relieved, no doubt. Or is that vindicated? I just looked up and saw a massive rain cloud coming my way.
Where is Chris Warrell and his diving rod/flamingo??