Night Watch 2
18 October 2010 | Underway for Port Vila
I used to joke that my readership had doubled - there are now TWO people reading the blog - but I know from those of you who take the time to leave a comment, or email me, there are a few more than that! Thanks to Phil, Greg, Quent, Kez, Bob, Edith, Colin, Jackie, and others who have said hi! in the past. Sorry if I have forgotten you, but here at Lat 17 55'S Long 171 37'E I don't have access to the blog to check, and to list everyone.
The kitchen timer beeps - every 15 minutes I will do this: check the engine temp and oil pressure, the course, speed, and turn the radar to transmit, and watch the 6, 12 and 24 mile pictures. Right now, nothing, it's as empty as the sea as I clamber up the ladder and look around. What's that? - a ship? (light blips my retina as I stare forward) no it's the moon! A fat half, two moonwidths above the horizon, she's busy setting, right up ahead, fine on the port bow; yellow in the way only she can do it, with bruised colours in the clouds which form her penumbra. AAAAH!! I smile without planning to, and rush below to tell you about it. I have tried photographing it, and mostly you get camera shake. I go up to try a shot, but she's just a campfire now, and the photos don't work. Embers.
Something broke tonight, a small thing, but I confess I have a backgrounding fear that something's going to break and it will be life-threatening, overwhelming. Many things have, in fact, broken in our two years cruising. It is the engine hour timer that has broken, stopped at 1545.9. In the middle of the night I have been acknowledging my fears to myself. The engine has been running continuously since Saturday evening - for nearly 60 hours - without missing a beat. It's a symphony of sound: the low note of the engine, misc hums, rattles of every pitch and period coming from . everywhere - the stove, the hatches (oh, yes, and I hear chords. Windblown harpstrings: Adrienne says she can't hear them) and a cyclic vibration that may come from the worn "cut less" bearing. The reliable old diesel - even she will stop one day. Sailor's fears. . Fear of mistakes in navigation. Fear of hitting something in the dark - a reef, a container or a whale, or being run down by a ship. I shift my mind away from these things, fuel leakages, fire, the mast falling over, steering failure - I hope Kez isn't reading this - and I am getting really good at CHOOSING my thoughts. The consensus view is that one's thoughts are just THERE - like death, taxes, and vermin in your house - and there's simply nothing you can do about it - sweep 'em under the carpet and they come back jeering. I need to say at this point that I believe we will make it back to Australia, back to Tassie, alive and whole, arthritis ticking over quietly, big grins on our faces. But I wanted to let it show that I do have fears, as (I guess) do you, of something (vague, or specific) overwhelming, and I put them out of my mind, replacing them with something REAL, although sometimes this requires constant conscious choice to do so.
I wonder if this is the reason I chose to go to sea - to go into that darkland , to see if the monsters were not just Luna Park Ghost Train horrors. The night - out in the broad Pacific Ocean is not (psychologically) dark at all! It is still and peaceful, comforting even. How can this be? I don't know, but let me tell you the voyaging small boat is a laboratory: you can culture your fears there, and experiment with peace.
Let me tell of our saga of the spinnaker before I go - you may know we flew it successfully only twice and on the second time we tore it. Adrienne sewed it up nicely, with the help of our sailmaker friend Jamie, from Dagmar, and we improved the sock . Also improved are our methods - I have had to climb to the top of the mast several times to free up a fouled spinnaker halyard. Today we flew it and it was a right royal stuff-up. Luckily, it came down okay, and sleeps guiltily tonight in its bag, but it wrapped itself around the furled Genoa, forming a balloon - the classic hourglass thing! Oh, lord I swore as I hit my head repeatedly on the spinnaker pole, as my left thong went overboard (the deck so hot in the baking sun!) and when it hourglassed - NO MORE!! I yelled, THIS IS THE LAST TIME WE EVER FLY THIS BLOODY THING!!! Adrienne was laughing: it's fun when you lose your cool, you should do it more often, she said.