Monday, April 11, 2016

Opua: I know

        I know these trees.
        I know these hills.
        I know this water.
        I know this sky.
        I know this light.
        I will carry them with me.


        This is among the best of times:  these days before I return to sea, when all is done but those things necessarily left until just before departure, and I sit on the gentle sloop and enjoy the quiet before the storms.
        I don’t actually expect many storms this year, except on the approach to South Africa, which is like New Zealand in that you can have a gale any time.

        ‘He holds the world in his mind.’
        A line I’m sure you all recognize.  And I do hold the world in my mind.  At least a lot of it.  
        I know the way from New Zealand to South Africa.  
        Bundaberg will be new to me and Port Richards, if I enter South Africa there, but the rest I know, and because I do I am considering making the passage from Darwin directly to South Africa.  
        If you are sailing around the world and have not stopped at Cocos, you should.  The anchorage behind an uninhabited islet is beautiful; but during the week I was there in 2008 on THE HAWKE OF TUONELA the wind blew too hard most days for me to row ashore.  People live on some of the other atolls around the lagoon, but there is little in the way of supplies.  I may pass Cocos.
        I read that Port Louis in Mauritius has changed since I was there more than three decades ago.  I may go in.  That decision will be made at sea, depending on how GANNET and I are as we reach that side of the Indian Ocean.
        Darwin to Port Richards or Durban is almost 6,000 miles, approaching the 6408 we sailed crossing the Pacific Ocean.  I’m thinking about it.
        The course for the year is an arc, but not a symmetrical one.
        We are starting at 35° South.  If we are near Cape Town by the end of the year we’ll be on almost the same latitude.  But in between we will have quickly gone up to just above 11° South at Cape York and then made a long gradual curve back down.  Durban is 30° South.  Port Richards 29° South. 
        I have ambitions for the year.  On past crossings of the Indian Ocean I have experienced strong trade winds.  GANNET’s best day’s run so far is 156 miles.  If the tiller pilots can handle conditions, I expect to blow that away.  And the best week run of 1003 miles as well.


        Steady rain kept me in the Great Cabin all yesterday.  
        The rain ended during the night and today was lovely.
        Sitting on deck the hour before sunset I found a new location.  With the tiller upright I can place the Sport-a-Seat just in front of it and sit there, facing forward, using the pod as a foot rest.
        I am so looking forward to being at sea on the new and improved GANNET.  The reconfigured cockpit and pod are the greatest change.  But the side decks are clearer.  I have a wind instrument.  The new G2 and top down furler.  The Pelagic tiller pilot.  And a carbon fiber tiller.  This last for me is an affectation, but it is right for GANNET and very, very smooth under hand.  I like it.


        Two nights last week were cool, around 52°F/11°C.  I was cold in my lightweight sleeping bag and changed into the heavier one.  I found myself thinking about the real cold off Cape Horn.  It is easy to consider these things from a distance and in comfort.  
        A couple of friends happened to have emailed me recently asking about cabin heaters.  I’ve  had them on some boats, but they create more problems than they solve.  
        There is certainly no room for one on GANNET.
        So I told myself:  buy yourself another base layer, old man, and suck it up.