Atlantic Crossing – Day 21

Blogger: John and Mariel
Date: 2-Mar-2020
Location: Approaching Martinique from the East
Total to Date: 2600nm (332nm to go)
25 Hour Run: 110nm

Two contrasting nightwatch reflections for you today, plus some excitement from this morning.

PART 1 Mariel, 03.32am, nightwatch

I’m starting to find this hard in different ways. The constant queasiness, the change in taste and the hypersensitivity to smell have all mostly passed. But now we are all in countdown mode and I am struggling with the ever-moving target.

I think I’m ready for our ocean passage to be over now. Ready to see something other than blue sea. Ready to be able to stretch my legs (without bracing them on the other side of the cockpit), leave the boat, have a swim, a proper wash, be alone (even if just for a few precious moments), meet new people, and talk to the people I love.

Our days are filled with calculations; if we continue at this speed in this direction, we’ll arrive in 3, 4, 5, 15 days… The tablet screen is swiped to the side to show the miles to go, sometimes every mile we travel. We mark significant points as we aim for and pass them – now down to every 100 nm. Just before midnight, we crept below 400 nm left to go.

I am not used to counting down to things or wishing time away. Over the past year in particular, I’ve been conscious about making the most of the present rather than wishing it away in favour of a potentially brighter future. It jars with me, this constant checking of a variable time and distance remaining. I want to be able to make the most of the few days we have remaining in this small blue bubble, but I’m torn with wanting to reach the end, and distracted by the countdown.

The biggest problem with the countdown is that it is changeable. This isn’t like counting down to Christmas with a chocolate advent calendar, knowing that Santa will come on the night of the 24th, and that there’ll be food and presents galore on the 25th. Right now, we are doing 5-6 knots in exactly the right direction, 257 degrees, just south of west. With less than 400 nm to go from here in a straight line, that makes our ETA 3 days and 4 hours, according to the app we use.

But earlier this evening, when a passing squall had sucked all the wind from the air, we could barely make 3 knots, and we were at least 30 degrees off course. Heading in the wrong direction at a half the speed made our ETA over a week away.

We are at the mercy of the wind and the waves. We think back to earlier stages of our passage, with 3-4m waves to surf down at over 8 knots, and days of up to 150nm, with nostalgia and longing.

Despite our forecast of a steady 10-15 knots of wind from the east, in reality it is variable, from 5 knots to gusts of up to 25, and there’s no knowing when we’ll get there, no matter how many calculations we do.

We’ll get there when we get there.

PART 2 – John, 5-7am watch

Life is good this morning. Early 5am watch, the sea is flat and we have 20 knots of true wind which is just perfect. The air is balmy and we are powering along at around 6 easy knots. The stars are at their best with only a few small, non-threatening clouds. Leonard Cohen plays supporting my reflective mood and as usual serves to cheer me up because I never listen to the words only to the pretty tunes!

It’s at times like this I am reminded of the famous Chinese verse:

He knows not where he’s going
For the ocean will decide
It’s not the destination
It’s the glory of the ride.

[Zen Dog, Gill’s Birthday card, 200?]

Just a few days left now and our tight little group will disperse and the outside world will come crowding back in. But for now we continue to exist on our little blue disk, swished along on our Atlantic carpet wishing both that this could continue for ever and yet eager to finish and finally drop anchor too. Great memories shared with a great crew. Who would have thought I would be here three years ago. Lucky, or what?

A few comments to remember our time by…

“This is perfect. If we keep this up we’ll be in Martinique by (choose any date).” [Gill]

“Pan pan, pan pan, pan pan. All ships, all ships, all ships.” [The Canarian sing along weather man]

“On port tack I have to move to the other side on my berth.” [IJ] “You’re lucky, my bed is so small it doesn’t have sides.” [Mariel]

“I’ve got a smudge stick in my bag. Let’s cleanse the boat.” [Mariel]

“Why don’t we use the lure that actually looks like a fish today?” [IJ] – that’s the one that caught the fish!!

“This meal is absolutely delicious. Do you miss having meat to eat?” [J] “YES” [IJ]

“I’m good.” [IJ]

“Has anyone sent the InReach satnav position this morning?” [Anyone]

“I might be thinking of putting another reef in.” [IJ]

“I’m just starting to feel the rain trickling down between my buttocks!” [Gill]

“Perhaps you could cook us a mung bean omelette, John.” {Mariel]

In other news I learned yesterday how to relieve a stallion, how to inseminate a mare and how to prepare for a three day event!!

PART 3 – John

It’s afternoon now. A jobs day. Water reorganised, fuel transferred to the correct tanks. Sounds simple but it’s taken the best part of the day. Remember EVERYTHING is moving. All the time. Gilly’s worked really hard and we’ve managed all the jobs whilst the watch keepers kept the miles ticking on nicely averaging over 5 knots for the past 24 hours – right through the night and most of the day.

Big news though is….ANOTHER FISH! This time a stunning 10kg bull mahi mahi. 45 minutes to bring it to the gaff, gorgeous blues and greens sparkling as he threw himself into the air. Sad to say his female friends swam with him to say goodbye so it was with mixed emotions we thanked Neptune for his gift. Fish and spuds tonight and fish soup tomorrow. A veritable feast in store. Same lure as last time. Wait til you see the pictures, this guy’s the business.

M, IJ, J and G

Use with SHOW JOURNEY to track our progress.

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