We’d like to introduce you all to our newest crew member, Athena Judith Brooks. She was born in Bermuda on the 4th March 2021 at 22:12 weighing a healthy 7lb 8oz.
Yes, I know I’m very late in letting you know the happy news, but these past six weeks have been a whirlwind that has taken quite some getting used to! I thought our experience of offshore sailing with a watch system of 3-hours on followed by 3-hours off would have put us in great stead for the sleepless nights of parenthood. I was wrong. Very wrong! We now walk around like zombies, covered in the various bodily excretions of an infant. Projectile vomits I expected, but projectile poos I did not.
I don’t think I’m a very good traveller, at least not in the long term. One thing I’ve struggled with during this voyage is being so far away from the people I love. I sometimes found it exhausting to put in so much energy making friends, only to say goodbye after a few short weeks knowing that I will probably never see those people again. Being surrounded by familiar faces is something that I completely took for granted before this voyage, and their absence is something I’ve never quite gotten used to.
The time has actually come to leave…
Well, it’s now December 10th and I’m still here waiting. I decided not to take my chances with that low to the South and I’m glad I didn’t because it’s pretty miserable here right now.
On the plus side I’m probably more around a 3 now on that scale of 1 to 10. The weather window that is due to open up any time now looks absolutely beautiful though perhaps a little light in patches so I may have to do some motoring. Ah well. If I get really tired of the sound of the engine then I can always start throwing things and shouting loudly in order to release my frustration. In fact I’ll probably do that anyway. The shouting I mean. One of the things that I find so beautifully liberating about ocean sailing is that you can do absolutely whatever you want and there’s no one around to see, hear or care. When is the last time you shouted? I don’t mean raised your voice – when is the last time you were free to scream as loudly and as freely as you can? Wherever you are reading this, I suspect that if you were to let loose a blood-curdling death scream there might be a couple of questions and concerns. Not so at sea! One can shout, scream and otherwise carry on to one’s heart’s content with absolute impunity. In fact, now that I think about it there are a number of parallels that can be drawn between being on a yacht at sea and being incarcerated in a psychiatric institution. First of all, you have to be not-quite-right in the head to be there in the first place. Second, you spend an awful lot of time in your own little world and third, all sorts of anti-social behaviour is not just excused but almost expected of you. Paulo Coelho wrote a fantastic little book called ‘Veronica decides to die’ – one of my favourites – which is not nearly so morbid as the title might suggest and presents a number of these fascinating concepts in a wonderful way.
Well, the wind was due to have shifted to the North East by now but it’s still staunchly in the South East – the direction I want to go in. That means I might as well resign myself to leaving tomorrow morning (I had hoped to get away this evening) and help myself to a beer as a reward for my patience ?
The morning of the sail (11th December):
The time has almost come to leave…
Well, the time has finally come to leave. I’m sitting in the White Horse pub in St. George having sailed up from my ‘home mooring’ in Spanish Point and the voyage has already been eventful. As usual I underestimated how long it would take to sail up here. It took me the best part of 5 hours from leaving the mooring to being anchored in St. Georges Harbour. Since it gets dark at about 5:15 these days that meant navigating through the Narrows in the dark. It’s cloudy too, so no moon, and the chart I have isn’t excellent and only shows the light patterns for about half the lights. To make matters worse, none of the buoys lining the channel into St. George are lit at the moment, the main green light marking town cut is out and the second one further back in the cut might as well not be on because it’s completely overgrown with trees and not visible until you’ve almost made it through the cut. It took me a good half an hour before I could be confident of exactly where I was, take the mainsail down, fire up the engine and aim for the cut. It was what Sir Frances Chichester would have called a ‘shemozzle’. It’s a lovely word don’t you think? Beautifully eloquent; I intent to use it frequently in these posts!
The weather is looking OK for a departure tomorrow, Tuesday December 8th. It looks like I’ll get about a day of good wind (beam reaching), then perhaps a day of headwinds, then a day or so of very little wind at all and then plain sailing from there on if the high pressure that they’re forecasting materialises. I’m not too keen on the 15 knot headwinds on day 2 (which will probably be more like 20 knots – they always seem to forecast wind speeds about 5 knots under what you actually get) but if I don’t get out there now then I’ll be too far North to catch the high pressure and will be stuck up here forever. I want to be in the tropics and the trade winds!
On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is perfectly content and 10 is pooing myself, I’m probably hovering somewhere around a 7 at the moment. This will be my first ever solo ocean sail. I know the boat is ready, and I know I’m ready, but I’m just not too keen on the idea of being on my own at sea for over a week. It’s silly really; on a day to day basis I’m not exactly a sociophile (is that a word? It is now!?) but I’ve never spent quite that amount of time on my own before, and certainly not in such a harsh environment. Since Bermudian customs are, quite frankly, a farce, I won’t have any long range communications at all until I get to St. Maarten and pick up the satellite telephone, so I really will be entirely alone. I suppose I should really look on the bright side – there will be no one around to see when I screw up!
Sarah has informed me that I’m not allowed to die, so that’ll be the no. 1 priority and everything else is a bonus.
Right, I’m off back to the boat for an early night. Cheers!