The problem with the sailing is that when the wind drops you get stuck. Luckily for us the wind hadn’t completely disappeared yet; we were still making headway. We were heading down towards Cape Agulus and would round the Southern most tip of Africa around 2pm. It isn’t nearly as glamorous as you might imagine since when you go around the peninsula you see other peninsulas nearby that annoyingly look equally “southern”.
We started the very very long broad reach run towards mossel bay. At some point during the day we saw a whale and marvelled at the flying expertise of the Sheerwaters (a bird) who fly along the swells with the very tip of their wings just gently touching the water so that they can keep their eyes looking forward for fish without worrying about taking a nose dive.
Boatfood is not nice. Jeremy is a far better sailor than chef, and I was okay with that. To be fair preparing anything on a boat that is rocking and rolling like a bad bon jovi concert is definitely not easy. We had bought a whole cooked chicken which we converted into chicken mayo sandwiches more times than I would like to admit. Exhaustion however was my undoing. You know that feeling when you’ve been horribly drunk and spend the entire night partying and then in the morning you can’t decide whether you’re absolutely ravenous or want to die? Well I think that feeling is somehow linked to your body hating you, and due to the rather severe lack of sleep that I had inflicted upon my mortal coil I suppose my body was reacting in a very similar way. It hated me and I really didn’t feel like eating. (Friends of mine will find this unbelievable… shut it!)
The day turned to evening as we struggled to make the most of the dying wind… but the weather also started looking quite bleak. It got cold and miserable and started to rain. As if we weren’t uncomfortable enough already, mother nature decided to throw us a little bit of water. Eventually I had all 4 layers of clothing completely and utterly soaked, right down to my undies. Being wet isn’t a problem, it’s being wet for 24 hours that really isnt’ fun. Here I was, sailing as evening turned to night, with driving rain somehow magically raining right in my face no matter how hard I tried to pull my hood down over my face.
It got dark and the visibility dropped. Moonlight was occluded by clouds and for the first time I felt very much “out at sea”.
Lighthouses aren’t just those red and white buildings with the light on the top… once you’ve sailed through the night they start to take on this all too well deserved level of respect bordering on adoration. Each lighthouse has its own flash pattern. Groups of 3 every 10 seconds etc. At night you can see the loom of a lighthouse that is literally 24 hours sailing away from you. In childrens storybooks you always hear about how the ships saw the lighthouse too late, as if the lighthouse was this terrible thing that protected some disastrous rocky evil. In reality you spend a large majority of your time at night navigating straight towards a lighthouse. I can imagine the relief of ye olde sailors from eras gone by when, while crossing the oceans, they would finally spot a lighthouse and know that they were nearing the end of their journey.
We took turns again. It was still raining and because getting undressed or dressed at night on a rocking boat takes too much time and energy you end up sleeping in your 4 layers of wet clothes, including bulking safety harness, jackets and soaking underpants. Yay! Eventually even the mattresses were soaked.
The rain stopped eventually and after numerous zombied helm switches at 4am we found ourselves at sunrise somewhere near Bredasdorp. There was absolutely no wind, the sun was warm and the sea was beautiful and calm. We were not moving at all.
I felt betrayed by the previous nights rainfall.
Coming next: “We probably should have gone with our gut instincts. Mossel Bay was *right* there and we were sailing directly away from it, directly into a shitstorm.“