Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cruise of the ‘Aziz’ a Pioneer 9 Part 8


At midnight of the 15th July, the trailing log indicated that ‘Aziz’ had exactly travelled through the water 50.0 nautical miles. On midnight of 16th July the log reading was 168.5 miles. Accordingly, the yacht had sailed 118.5 in 24 hours, averaging a speed of 4.9 knots – fantastic – all I had hoped for. The wind had been from the northwest at Force 3; hence our excellent progress. Drizzle and general greyness of the scene did not dampen my spirits.

Early on the morning of 17th July we were in total darkness when I was faced with the task of making a big detour around a fleet of fishing boats. Avoiding them would have been more manageable had the engine been working. They seemed to be linked together with nets spread between them for a mile or more. At one point I thought we were going to be caught in the trap, but somehow, I’m not quite sure how, ‘Aziz’ managed to slip past the windward drifter. I confess to being frightened because I had heard of trawlers ramming yachts, and in one instance a yacht sank, leaving her crew in the water. They only survived because their liferaft self-inflated when the yacht went down, but I believe one crew member may have drowned. Nasty stuff – I didn’t want any of that. I breathed a sight of relief when we were clear.

Porpoises again

At 0605, after a muted sunrise seen through drizzle, we were visited by a school of small, light brown porpoises with cream underbellies. These playful creatures cavorted around the bow, and sometimes swam under the yacht. They were obviously having fun and me too.

The evening shipping forecast mentioned west or northwest 4/5 winds, and occasional rain with fog patches; the latter I definitely did not want, on account of the possibility of meeting more fishing boats. With night approaching and the likelihood of increasing wind, I changed the Genoa for the small jib and put one reef in the main. We were being overhauled by a ship, but it became clear we were not in her path. At 2320 we observed a minesweeper displaying characteristic green lights in the shape of a triangle. I was required to keep clear by more than a thousand metres. I had never seen one before at night. I guess she was on manoeuvres and there were no live mines!

According to my GPS at 0750, Horta was 1,050 miles away on a bearing of 251 degrees true – all useful stuff, for I knew where we should be heading. We were off track, and it took four hours to rectify the matter. There was no point in sailing further than we need. The sun broke through the clouds and the wind eased enough for me to shake out the reef in the mainsail. There on the ocean I was bewitched by an unusual quietness, except for the hissing of the yacht’s bow waves. Everything seemed so unreal. Was I in this life, or in another?

By mid-day we only had to go 245 miles to reach the mid-point between Falmouth and Horta. In the same trancelike state as mentioned earlier I was mesmerized by a tiny spider that was engaged in weaving a vibrating web on the wind generator support. After all his efforts there surely would not be any flies for his supper. I observed that the sea was an incredible indigo hue. I replaced the jib with the Genoa.

Friday, 18th of July would soon be with us. Meanwhile a ship displaying green lights overhauled us – perhaps she was the same minesweeper I had seen before. That morning found ‘Aziz’ wallowing with no wind to give her way. I set about doing household chores and general maintenance, things like greasing the steering lines, checking the rigging, dusting the cabin floor, and preparing a tasty meal. I checked the bilges which were as dry as dead bone. About mid-afternoon we were visited by a swallow heading south. Apart from my new friend the spider, the porpoises and the swallow, we had seen no other wildlife.

Text for the Day

Genesis 1:21 ‘So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according its kind. And God saw that it was good.’

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