At sea

Yesterday’s post was written from a perch in a corner of the pilot house, because to do any sort of close work out of sight of the horizon was way too sick making. In the early evening Dick and Gavin heroically braved the galley and cooked up sausage, beans and mash – most of which was eaten, some of which didn’t even make the reverse journey.

It has been a rough passage so far but now, 11 am on Tuesday, we are pretty much half way to South Georgia. Sailors: the seas are less ferocious, and winds are steady 25 knots from the SW. We’ve got a yankee and a staysail up with a two-reef main and are making about 9 knots. No bergy bits yet seen, but we’re looking out with keen anticipation. I’m hoping you can read our current position from the embedded link below.

At sea

Everyone has his sea legs and Australis is a happy ship.

I’m at the saloon table, with Dick on one side and Jonathan on the other, noses in their books. Chris is in the galley cooking minestrone for lunch; up the companionway steps I can see Tom and John in the pilot house and hear Miles’s voice. It’s his watch. Laura and the others are probably asleep in their bunks.

We are working four-man watches, on a three-hourly 24-hr rotation. I’m on Skip’s, with Gavin and Dick. Last night we were on 3am to 6am, which meant rolling out of our berths in thick darkness, grabbing a headtorch, pulling on oilskins, life vest  and sea boots (I sleep in my clothes. We all do) and presenting ourselves in the pilot house sharp on the hour, no excuses. The three hours pass in a mix of desultory talk or listening to the wind and the noises of the boat. The wind weirdly dropped at one point so we were out on deck in the blast, winching in the foresails before resorting to engine power for a spell.

As a night’s activity this sounds like all sorts of hell combined….but actually it was thrilling. We had a cup-a-soup afterwards and it tasted as good as Krug.

Next watch for us is noon to 3pm, then we get 9-midnight followed by an unbroken 6-hour night! This is the best combination in the watch cycle and I’m already looking forward to rolling up in my top bunk and pulling the lee cloth up tight. I’ve got about 100 books on my Kindle but so far I haven’t read a word. Radio 4 podcasts are best. Last night I fell asleep listening to In Our Time. Can’t remember a word of what it was about, but it sounds so soothing and kitchen-radio homely. As a novice sailor there’s too much to do, and remember, and learn, to be thinking of home during the day – but the nights  are different.

There’s talk of a promising weather window opening for the traverse itself. Very exciting.  (If such a thing as dry land really exists, and is not just a folk memory…)

More tomorrow. I can’t use my MacBook on board – my creative’s badge, my symbol of writerhood – because it lacks the software to connect with Inmarsat.  So I’m not able to access the southbyeight site direct. But I hope you’re reading it, and please send messages if you can. I’ll get them, and it means a lot.

Send an email (no pictures, please):

Check our progress:

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