At Sea

Cake and Death

We’ve put the clocks back twice now and still have another three hours to go. We really should have changed three hours already but one of the luxuries of being out here on our own is that the number on the clock is largely irrelevant. The only schedule that matters is our own, and we’ve decided we like it getting dark at about 7.

Our position as of 1000 (UTC+6) on the morning of November 2nd is 12 58 S, 073 03 E, putting us about 2500 miles from Bali and 1500 miles from our destination – the island of Nosi Be just off the North West coast of Madagascar.

The days are much the same. The wind comes and goes and shifts back and forth a few degrees, but for the most part Bob keeps plodding along and slowly eating away the miles. Yesterday, however, was special. It was Sarah’s birthday. We’d been keeping a camembert in the fridge for this occasion, so she had that for dinner along with some bread that I made the day before. I also made a cake, and took pleasure from the thought that the list of people who have ever made a cake out here is almost certainly very small.

There is life out here, however. Lots of it. The sea floor is 5 kilometres below our keel and in this location is virtually featureless. No sea mounts or chasms or ridges. Certainly no islands. Nothing to bring nutrients up to the surface. Nevertheless there are an abundance of flying fish skittering across the wave tops. Long, thin ones with flat heads and short, fat ones with rounded heads. I was once smacked in the head by one in the Atlantic and I could feel it for days afterwards. I was standing in the cockpit at the helm of a boat, minding my own business and the next thing WHACK! It was like being punched by someone. Fortunately the Indian Ocean variety seem to be much smaller, which is a good thing otherwise I’d be afraid to stand outside for too long for fear of assault. There are literally hundreds of them and Bob has become a kind of death machine. Sometimes we hear them flapping around on deck and I go and plop them back into the sea, but more often than not they get scooped up unnoticed. The deck is strewn with them every morning. I counted 101 in my clean-up the other day. At least we know they won’t go to waste; something living down there will eat them.


  • Guy Hamshere

    As always these stories are incredible and most revealing ! Thinking of you both and I for one remain in awe of your voyage! 101 struck me as incredible. Please keep the updates coming and smooth sailing! ( hope that is a nautical enough term! ).

  • Vicky Hamshere

    Happy belated birthday Sarah! What a memorable birthday with a favourite cheese, freshly baked bread and a specially baked cake at that remote spot in the ocean. Incredible! Bravo Alexander! And you obviously continue to enjoy yourselves, notwithstanding the flying fish 😆
    Your journey is forever captivating.

  • Paul Terceira

    Happy Birthday Sarah, a couple of days late. Did the cake have a list to one side? I used to have a problem with the bread, despite the gimbal….. I confess, I have never attempted a cake, well done.
    One of my crew a few years back was the flying fish “Magnet” and continued to provide fresh fish for breakfast each morning…..pan fried, crispy on the outside… of my favorites.
    She had thick red hair for protection, and was never injured, just incensed, why her!
    I might need a bicycle helmet at this stage of my life, if they choose me later this month!

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