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Monday, December 7, 2009

Latest Position

Posted by I & G in the UK.

The fifth Cape

Position 0630/7th 3335 01456 trip 49 DMG 42 and 164 to go
We have the assymetric kite up, VMG about 4.5, iff the wx system holds for the two days forecast, it should get us home but no predictions! Barnacles not helping.

Last night: Looking back over the last 66 days of sailing - the first 36 k of this little marathon - I'm astonished at how lenient the Examiner has been with us. 7500 miles of downhill, easy sailing most of the way, except for some small bursts of the pearshaped up in the convergence zone. So, desperately frustrating though it has been to be out in the gridlock within sight of the pub and no Marvin to take over, I don't think we have grounds for complaint as we wallow here. On the contrary, in fact. But we are not in the bar yet - not nohow and I might change my mind at any time.

Middle watch again - we have just enough breeze to be making headway, or we had when I started writing this but it's dropping out rapidly. Massive to-do list for CT if we ever actually get there. Battery down to 65% - lowest I can remember ever seeing it - so a bit of diesel and we can make some water too. Just not enough wind for the Airbreeze whizzer to keep the charge up.

I've been idly engaging the neuronic trio in contemplating the preconceived, taken for granted notion of size, of the vast stretches of this little blue green blob in the universe in human terms. Berrimilla and I have been at the northernmost point of mainland America, on the southern shore of Bellot Strait in the NW Passage and at the opposite end, at Cape Horn which is on an island south of the end of the mainland. At both places I was conscious of the huge distance to the other end. We are now just short of one of the fiercest Capes of all, Cape Agulhas at the southern tip of Africa. The enormous spread of the continent fills the whole of my perspective from Berri's bow around to past her port quarter, yet it is over the horizon, low, relatively flat and so far invisible - a quirk of geography class at school and completely unreal. Big, mysterious and unknowable. And Agulhas, not Good Hope, is the real 'Great Cape' and one of the five. So ends as rather mixed up contemplation. The next couple of days - and perhaps several more - are going to be very long. More dead leaves in the bus shelter.

David W - Dutch Harbour sounds pretty much par but I'd like to see that facebook page - would you please ask for me? You should read Steve Tompkins' blog - I think it is 'a sense of place' and there's a link on the old /tng site.

Frustration by the truckload

Position 1900/6th 3329 01418 and 197 to go

What a day - frustrating, therapeutic in an 'it's nice when you stop banging your head' sort of way, fierce concentration just to stay in the same spot, just enough wind in the sails to pass the bubbles but desperately disappointing when you've spent three hours hand steering, playing every little shift, every blasted wave that throws the boat around and stops her dead, doing doughnuts, fogging and rolling and you find that you have gained - nothing. I have a couple of screen prints of one session and I'll post them if we ever get to CT. I was looking at 200 miles to go for about 12 hours - we cracked it, I hope finally, about three hours ago.

And the water really is soapy - there's a greasy film over the surface, easily visible when it is oily calm like it has been today and there are bubbles, formed I know not how because there are no white caps and they hang around - they don't seem to pop. Can this be yet another example of us humans trashing the planet?

Radio dead again so this by Iridium and short. So much to write, but really too busy steering or trying to get some sleep. We have now what I hope - and the grib predicts - is the top of a big low forming around us and deepening below us tomorrow and Tuesday and - I hope - giving us just enough to stem the current for 197 miles and through the barn door. But I'm not too confident.

What it must have been like for the emigrant ships and the slave ships stuck out here for weeks in these conditions is beyond my imaginative tolerance - rationed, tainted water, maggoty or mouldy or just no food, hot, no cooling breeze, people dying around you, their corpses often floating beside the ship until they burst and sank and worst of all, not knowing when it would end. I just don't want to think about it.