The first three days out of Mumbai was a dream run. There was wind on the quarter (for a change because I am known for my jinx with headwinds) and the course and speed were just perfect. We were quickly putting distance between us and the coast and in a couple of days time we were 300 miles away from Mumbai and the noise of shore and landmines of fishing nets.
Things began to change by the third day when it became apparent that Nilam was dying. The breeze slowly went down scale as I dug myself deeper into a windless hole. We did only 120 miles that day. I tried to keep up boat speed changing sails as often as I could. But even hoisting the 2000 square feet A3 did not improve things much. We have been becalmed the last couple of days.
Light winds offer a peculiar condition. Even with a mild swell, the sails thrash about and it becomes imperative that I take them off lest they tear before crossing the Equator.
Raising and lowering the main sail is never easy. You could ask anyone who has come for a day sail with us. Hoisting 100 kilograms over a seven storey building on a hot day with your bare hands can leave one terribly exhausted. And I have been doing that something like three times a day on average. The genekar is something I have rigged only with a crew of three assisting me, but the last few days I have been doing that alone. With all this, I am managing a meagre 40- 50 miles a day. Hopefully things should change soon. As they say, wind can blow only in one direction in the North Pole. For me, its just a matter of time.
How badly are we becalmed? Here is an example. I woke up this morning to find a sea and sky that were merging at a horizon that was indistinguishable from one another. It was like living inside of a cotton ball. Yesterday the sea was so calm in the evening that there were stars in the ocean and you couldn’t tell which was was up and which way was down. Not a whiff of wind, not a ripple in the sea.
On the other hand, I have managed to catch up on sleep. I also had my first bath in four days (in sea water of course!). The water maker, which is a bit iffy at the best of times, was tested and satisfactorily made “fresh” water after a bit of cajoling. I was subsisting on fresh fruits and vegetables till now but yesterday I took out some potatoes and boiled them. With the dried fish pickles that came from grandfather, the potatoes tasted well! Today morning was brown bread sandwich of peanut butter and banana.
Bad news though. It was only when I was trying to cut the potatoes that I realised that we have no chopping board on the boat. I will have to manufacture one now. On the flip side, I have an excess of one grasshopper, one sparrow and two dragonflies. Its just my bad luck that they don’t make for good chopping boards.
Meanwhile, Neha from Nat Geo sent in a link to the story she did on the Mhadei. Great pictures there and a great article… read on!http://www.natgeotraveller.in/magazine/get-going/cape-crusader
Maybe you should just buy a copy. Its well worth it.