Dale on the Equator
See no Evil, Hear no Evil, Speak no Evil.
Elton, Tommy, Stephen.
Three scared little monkeys sitting in their swimming shorts waiting to be redeemed of their sins.
Capt. Bushy reads the deed;
Neptune appears; the sins are revealed (what happens on the boat stays on the boat),
This morning we had a rotten egg and decide to toss them all away, so what better opportunity than over the lads, throw in a bit of chocolate pudding mix, flour, the slops bucket ; mix; then spread over heads, faces, bodies, everywhere ,hey after all it’s an initiation.
Traditions are traditions and we followed it to the letter. Well done Lad’s, stiff upper lip and all that.
After a quick cleanup, ( lucky we have a monster of a water maker), its back to business. A Change around of watches; Capt. Bushy takes the Silicon Valley Sisters and I have Elton, the Bahamian Brother from another Mother.
Crossing the equator @ 8 knots was a bit unusual. We were expecting squally, wild, rainy weather, but instead we smoked our way across with smooth seas. Sea Dragon kicked her heels up as she moved into familiar southern-hemisphere waters .For myself as well it was good to see the Southern Cross and other familiar constellations again, a bit nostalgic thinking of friends and family back in New Zealand enjoying the end of summer.
Elton is a good man to have on watch; always eager to help out and learn. Elton is running the Hach Meters and CO2 Sensors, collecting data, processing and sending it off. He’s the scientific part of the boat, up at all hours in the lab but always with an eye out with what’s going on in the galley.
Elton, Do you want some toast? Yes
Elton; Do you want some pasta? Yes
Elton; Are you hungry? Always. And keep him away from the chocolate.
I think he’s grown since we left the Azores. This Caribbean Cousin is a big lad.
Our days consist of boat maintenance on my part; keeping Sea Dragon charged, watered, fresh fruit rationed out, helping the boy’s refine their culinary skills in the galley (we have been feasting like kings) and exercising with Elton. We have a training circuit on the boat, push-ups, chin-ups, sit-ups, stretching, supplemented by a simple piece of rubber that sports physios use for recuperation. Got to get these boys into shape, too many computers nowadays, apart from the body being healthy, the mind needs to exercise. It’s too easy to just google everything, and have knowledge without really having done anything. You have to get out there and give it some .Nothing beats hands on experience.
Conditions have been up and down, changing sails around, pole out, pole in, engine on, engine off. We are now down into the ITCZ (International Tropical Convergence Zone)also known as the Doldrums and are experiencing the squalls, rain and shifty conditions we were expecting earlier on.
Amazing sunsets, sunrises ,moonsets, moonrises, and an almost nightly show of sheet lightning finish off natures free show, not dangerous , but spectacular ;with the best front row seats you could imagine.
It’s hot, real hot. So one afternoon we decide to block off the cockpit drains, fill it with beautiful refreshing sea-water and we have ourselves an afternoon by the pool .The only thing missing was a couple of cold beers and a B-B-Q. Actually we were testing the hatches to see if they are waterproof. (Ron; yes they are).
In the night we slide smoothly past the island of Fernando de Noronha, an area of stunning natural beauty, that was declared a Marine National Park in 1988.It has a mixed history; discovered by Amerigo Vespucci in 1503 ; used by pirates ,the Portuguese built a fort there that was later used as a prison and in 1832 Charles Darwin visited. Nowadays it lives off eco-tourism, dolphin watching, diving, surfing and sailing. A virtual paradise.
Fernando de Noronha, Ascension Island, St Helena Island, Tristan de Cunha and Trindade Island are all amazing , exotic sounding places that Sea-Dragon will be returning to this year with a fresh new crew of scientists and adventurers. There are also various sea-mounts over the South Atlantic ;one that we are heading to at this very moment to do a recon for a future expedition. Exciting stuff that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, just thinking about it.
Meanwhile ; Sea Dragon just keeps clocking up the miles ; 3659 nautical miles at this exact moment on this voyage .Capt. Bushy in the galley, smelling good (the food ,not Bushy).Watch change; I’m off to get a few zzzzzz’s to dream about our next port of call; Ilha Grande.Then up for the sunset spectacle. What’s it going to be today, pinks, purples, green flash, hmmmmm…………………………………………………………………..
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Squalls and the Swimming Pool
We’ve reached the last week of this long leg, and we are still having a great time. The weather gets more exciting as we drop south, with daily squalls and nightly lightening storms. The squalls either blow hard, giving us reason to have a play with the sails, or roll through unassuming, rinsing off the heat of the day. One squall poured so much that I stood outside collecting runoff from the sail. Pure hydro! Good vibes are flowing amongst the crew. Despite being anxious to reach Ilha Grande, we are enjoying this journey. I am certainly making the most of this one, as it will be my last leg on the Sea Dragon after seven months at sea. This is a time for me to enjoy the company of the crew at sea, to reflect upon the adventures had, and to dream up those that are ahead.
Today we beat the heat by opening the Sea Dragon Community Swimming Pool. The drain holes in the cockpit were stopped up and hatches shut tight, making a big bathtub, which we filled with seawater. It was a novel way for us to take a dip, allowing us to cool down and make miles simultaneously. We had fun wading in the cool water as we zipped along at 7knots, and it has been decided by the captain that this will be a daily activity. I never thought I’d be relaxing in a seawater tub as I sailed across the Atlantic.
Along with the challenges and the adventures, it’s been this kind of spontaneity and fun amongst new friends that has made this journey the best months of my young life. These are the kinds of moments I’ll laugh about as I’m telling the stories years from now. Maybe it’s just me, but the little things like drinking rainwater, bathing on deck, and improvising ice cream recipes at a 30degree slant really stick to the memory, adding up to define an overall experience.