May 29th, Tuesday morning
June 20, 2007
“Hands go diligently along the bulwarks, and with buckets of water and rags restore them to their full tidiness.” (Moby Dick)
The alarm woke me from a deep sleep. A grey sea still, but it’s far less turbulent than yesterday. What a blessing the respite is! According to Chris’ latest GPS reading, marked on our own chart (bought at The World of Maps on Wellington St. in Ottawa), we’re now over the Mid-Atlantic Ridge –in water “only” 2 km deep– on a great-circle route to Northern Ireland, at about our furthest point from land.
We took the chart down to breakfast to show it to Mischa and Martin, which they liked so much that they’ve begged us to buy and post them their own copy with our route and way-points marked on it.
From the bridge this morning, we could see rainshowers coming, over a gentle swell. It’s a sleepy view, especially now that our clocks have been advanced an hour for three days in a row (still two hours behind Brit. summer time.) Today, the able-seamen are busy washing the corridors, walls and stairwells with buckets of soapy water. We’ve received a message to say that we won’t be allowed into the lock at Liverpool until 1130 on Friday, so there’s no point rushing; we have slowed down to 17.5 knots. The sea is calming further and the sky is clearing, blueness ahead. I’m surprised that the pressure reading on the barometer is still low (~992 hPa), but it appears that we’re in the “eye” of our current low-pressure system which like the eye of a hurricane makes for calm. The question is, shall we travel along at the same rate and in the same direction as the low or shall we have to move away from the centre of it, and thus back into rough weather? Time will tell. For the time being, anyhow, let’s enjoy it.
Since lunch, sea and sky have been beautiful, with a ring of cumulus on the horizons. The ocean’s now a deep blue with a long, slow swell coming from behind us. We saw a pair of land birds who had stowed away amongst the containers with little to eat or drink, poor things. I doubt if they’ll survive the voyage, but they’re still fluttering about. Chris and I went out on deck after lunch and Captain Block joined us, eating a banana. His retired father used to be master of a ship as well, he told us. This gentleman had been a passenger on the Flottbek last October, lucky to have fair weather all the way across. Since then though, they have had storms on every trip. It’s about time for some summer weather, says the Captain. Throwing his banana skin overboard into our wake he added with a laugh that he hoped his ship wouldn’t slip on it on the way back.
I had another peaceful sleep this afternoon. I wrote some more of this log and finished reading The Secret River. From the bridge, we spotted more whales and dolphins. There are anvil clouds on the horizon, signifying thunderstorms. According to Chris’ calculations made at 1509 hrs, local time, we’ll be rounding the tip of northern Ireland in 39 hours,18 minutes, so we’re making steady progress.
For supper, deep fried potato cakes, after which I watched another DVD: The World’s Fastest Indian, an entertaining true story about an old New Zealander with a home-made motorbike who won an unbeaten land-speed record, starring Anthony Hopkins. Before the film came to an end I took a break from it, so as not to miss the sunset from the bridge. The sky was inky under the rain showers, now close at hand, and we watched the fiery sun being swallowed up in the water beneath a heavy cloud to port. Chris, who also watched the sun set on a previous evening, says you can almost hear it hiss as it goes under. Later, the moon rose on the starboard side, almost full, casting a wonderful, bright gleam on the water. The ship is moving steadily along at 18 knots and the officers are already marking our progress on the latest chart, promisingly entitled Western Approaches to the British Isles, a larger scaled chart than yesterday’s. I see that we have crossed the Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone and we’re over the so-called West European Basin now.
As we prepared to sleep, the water began to move the ship around more noticeably; here we go again! I thought I’d calm my nerves by fixing my eyes on the moon that was shining through the windowpane and lighting up my pillow (it seemed all wrong to pull the blind down and draw the curtains while we were at sea), but as it happened, that moon danced around the porthole in such jerky lines that I found it disconcerting, so I turned over to avoid watching it. Later, when the moon had moved over to the side, I tried looking up again, but now a bright planet (Venus?) was doing the same crazy dance, so that didn’t exactly lull me off to sleep, either.