4th June 0759 zulu, or Universal Coordinated Time
02 June 2009 | Isla Espiritu Santo
One minute to three, local time, on watch from 1 am to 4, and I have my trusty old laptop on my trusty old lap - sitting on the lee side of the cockpit (lee lower, away from the windy side, you landlubbers!) about 90 to 100 nautical miles off the Colombian coast, and heading in towards it, making for Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador. . Heading about SSE course over the ground 148 - 155 degrees true, doing 5.6 knots through the water but 4.8 knots speed over the ground, calculated by GPS, our position is 02 degrees 20' north, 079 degrees 44' west.
Numbers, magic of, 8143 kilohertz upper sideband, morning net at 2400 zulu or 9 am local time, gallons per hour diesel 0.75 - 0.9, cost of diesel in Ecuador USD$1.20/gal, sea temp here in the Humboldt current (one to two knots pushing north) 47 deg Fahrenheit (work it out, 47-32=15, 15x5/9about 8 deg Celsius), wind around 15 to 17 knots (1 knot 1 nautical mile per hour and there are 6080 feet in 1nm) always numbers, which brings me to the four white birds - ???? Check! - Yes, they are still there - who fly with our boat after midnight each night , keeping us company for hours.
Fifth night. I count on my fingers, 5 nights - we left last Saturday morning from Las Perlas - it's Thursday morning, that's Sat Sun Mon Tues Wed - tonight is the 5th night! First night - no bird, or didn't notice. On the 2nd night, one white bird, then the next night two, the 4th night three, tonight four! The boat is sailing herself steered by the Monitor windvane, which I named Marge Simpson, because the vane's shape reminds me of Marge's hair (I'll paint it blue) and my angels, as I call the birds, are still there, flying into the wind.
All that preamble . !
If I could tell you of the beauty of night sailing .how to tell? . like the roar and hiss of the bow wave, as it sends push after push of white foam . the gentle rocking as we climb up and over the waves, the flappingfluttering rushing sounds, sibilance . gurgling bubbling wake . the occasional flick of spray as a cheeky wave-top climbs aboard and salts my beard, as I lean out the windward side . staring for long, long times at the waves, seeing a white bird or a white wavecrest appearing as one of my angels.
Nearly an hour I've been typing this, and I have not looked out once for ships They come up so fast, can be on you in 15 minutes .Heading for the Galapagos, my friends Georgie and Kevin in South Moon were down below 2 nights ago and came on deck too late to act, the ship was so close they didn't know whether to turn left or right, and were saved when the ship took evasive action! So I scan the darkness. It's raining a little. A tiny squid suddenly is there, in the light of my headlamp, lying there on the side deck, I think it's a leaf at first, then look! Just like the squid lures in the fisherman shops he's gaudy, but no, he's rich in colour, chocolatey browns of his leaf-shaped body, a bulbous fisheye, and a showy little hat of jellyfish tendrils!! So beautiful. The darkness is really dark now . you can't tell the difference between sea and sky, it's not pitch black (have you seen pitch? It's SHINY black.) More like velvet. Now! - It seems we are in a denser form of outer space, shirttails flying. Adrienne murmurs in her sleep in the bunk below the cockpitseat. The cabin clock chimes 4. (It's 4:05). Time to stop, although I have so much more to tell you. It is not the least bit frightening. The loving darkness everywhere, the small shiptravelling, the white bundles of fulsome foam knocked out of her way by the lee bow, the red and green lights at the masthead, again the windydarkness .three curved sails, four white birds who are actually angels . . . and the sense is one of awe. Awe.
Glad you could travel with me awhile. As the youngfolks say -"AWESOME!"