For Berrimilla's first circumnavigation, the International Space Station
and the North West Passage, go to

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A rainbow in grey

We are as remote as it is possible to be in this huge ocean. Last ship a week ago, before that, another eight days to the previous one. Not an aircraft, not a space station, nothing human. Macca for ten minutes a tribute to technology and a welcome interlude.

How can I describe this night to someone sitting in front of a bright computer screen at home or in the office? It's as if we are inside a huge faintly luminous grey sock. Shapeless, untouchable gaseous void filler in thin foggy grey. We're sailing on soft grey-black velvet, invisible, shapeless but substantial, with the loveliest of phosphorescent twinkles in a rolling greenish halo of disturbed water flowing past. You feel the motion - it's experienced, without the usual frame of horizon and clouds to mark the boat's passage. The sails a darker mass in the void. Swooshing surging burbling water noise and the swish of the wind generator with its gentle undulating whine as it fires wiggly amps at the batteries, its tiny red LED glowing in the shapeless grey. Instrument lights at their dimmest grey - juuust readable but even with the acutest night vision there's only the feel of the change in density between velvet and gas at the horizon. Masthead lights brilliant arcs of pinpoint colour leaving painted trails on the retina - green light reflected off a masthead aerial making a surface patch in the velvet out to starboard. Sometimes it catches a ripple and turns it into glowing life for a second or two. The usual clunks and creaks that are the atmospheric noises off in any sailing boat. Gentle breeze on the face - tonight a caress but always out here with the hint of

Or just a dank and dismold overcast night if you'd rather do without the hype...