June 11, 2010
41°48.’ 21S 54°45.’36W
What a day! I was on watch from 0300 to 0700, then went to bed with a book. Read a little, dozed a little, but mostly stared out the porthole by my upper berth and watched the water rush by. We have tacked and are heading northwest now, which means the port side of the boat (where my berth is located) is now heeled over, and I am treated to a fantastic view of the waves. I watched them getting bigger and bigger, slate gray with white spray skidding across the flat surfaces, like drifting snow on a cold winter day. Every minute or so we’d take a particularly deep dip before we rode up the next wave, and the porthole was obscured by turquoise water—the secret, flamboyant lining of the of the sea’s staid gray suit.
When I reported for my 1300-1900 watch, I saw that we had a steady 35 knots of wind and four reefs in the sail. We were taking some pretty stiff slams and every few minutes a “greenie” would cascade over the pilothouse. We’d evaded our weather destiny for as long as we could—if we wanted to get to Buenos Aires, we had to head northwest, and that meant running through the headwind we’d done such a good job of sidestepping so far. We’re about 450 miles from Buenos Aires, so we’re not going to get there until Tuesday, probably, and we can expect our sea and wind conditions to remain fairly rough until we reach the head of the River Plate. A trip that would take five days in good conditions is going to take us about nine.
Nonetheless, spirits were high this afternoon. The wind eventually dropped into the mid 20s, the seas laid down a little bit, and we let a reef out. I practiced my knots, made some log entries, plotted our position on the paper chart. We drank multiple cups of tea and had biscuits. Laura read a great Roald Dahl story (“Taste”) aloud as the sun sank beneath the horizon. I think it was the best watch I’ve had so far, despite the dearth of sail changes. I’m writing now from the saloon, as Damian and Chris—today’s Mother watch—begin making risotto.
In the five days since we left Stanley, we haven’t seen a single boat or heard any VHF communication. There have been dolphins, albatross, and petrels but, for the most part, it’s just us out here. The South Atlantic is empty, wild, and beautiful.
In a few hours, it will be my birthday. Family and friends, I’ll miss you tomorrow, but next week when I’m back, I will let you sign my peg leg and make you suffer through my thousands of photos. Oh, and I’ll show you a few new knots I’ve learned, too.