When I left harbour, there were many who wished me fair winds and following seas. All of a sudden it all seems to have literally come true. We were in the neighbourhood of the roaring forties on the 6th of December when the winds went from a whisper to a roar. BVS reported 35 knot winds and 6-7 metre waves, and BVS, from my experience, is never to be distrusted . Before the last light of 5th was out, I had already deployed the stay sail and taken in three reefs on the main in anticipation of the blast. But when it hurtled onto us on the 6th, it claimed its first wicket early in the morning when the padeye of the runner block parted. A couple of hours later the wind vane autopilot gave up with a line parting and I had to take off the stay sail too. We were, even with the modest amount of sail that we carried, hurtling downhill at speeds topping at 14 knots at times.
There was so much spray around that the winds were literally fair and the sea was following us with a club in hand and badgering us each time we were looked back. The tops of waves would get ripped off and carried away in the breeze and it would cover the sea to such an extant that there was more white than blue. Yet it was more beautiful than monstrous and I felt like I was in a real ocean where the waves had a tinge of patent blue atop its crest that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. Waves would pile upon each other, at times lifting us on top and showing us a remarkably unhindered view of the world around, and in valleys it would seem as if they had gobbled up the sun and the sky. These are waves that constantly alter the topography of the planet without being reported in any atlas. It was a warm welcome by a cold ocean. The Mhadei was in her elements. Even with nothing more than a “Cutty Sark” of a sail on her, she was scudding along at a lively pace, gobbling miles at the rate of almost 200 a day. We have begun to run the eastings down.
It was almost at the same time that the great white albatross made an appearance. It would fly about as if it was the calmest day in paradise. They have their little ones in tow at times. The brown ones too are never far away either.
In between all the maelstrom, I had a touching message from a follower who lives in Detroit. Madhura Chitnavis-Marathe wrote about her field trip with a group of senior citizens in the city. The last stop was the Mariner’s Church which reminded her very much about the boat and her lonely sailor. She did not miss the opportunity to send me some beautiful images of the church which she asked me to “accept as online blessings”. I don’t pray but that does not mean that I don’t believe in the prayers of others. Click here http://marinerschurchofdetroit.org/history/ to know more about its interesting history.
In the aftermath of the first true gale of this voyage, winds died leaving behind horribly tall seas that did not do justice to the calm. That period is almost as uncomfortable as the gale itself. There is not enough wind to hold the sails in place but the boat rolls about so much that everything thrashes about. Inside the boat, things that did not stay within their assigned places found further company as more came crashing out of their locations. The melee below decks spoke well of the turmoil boat had been through the last few days.
Meanwhile, here is a video that I had made a few days into the voyage. I just put it up. Its a tour of the insides of the boat. Its very spartan and I am putting it up for all those who haven’t seen a boat at all.
It has been 37 days at sea in the company of ourselves. The boat’s tracker- Mandar- has diligently kept pace with us and plotted as we went. At the time of writing of this blog, we have done about 5100 nautical miles on ground and are about to enter what is called the Australian Bight.
Up Next- Under Down Under. The Australian Bight