It has been said that: “Open water sailing is days and days of endless boredom interspersed with moments of sheer terror.” This sailing trip has not been that so far. It has kept us busy and exhausted because of frequent weather changes the wind switches direction. The waves are often mad and confused. We have changed the sails up/down, left/right, and in/out and moved the heavy jib pole left/right and up/down. No time for relaxation or boredom yet. Definitely a lack of comfort and sleep as well.
For the last three days, we have not seen any boats on our AIS (Automatic Identification System). We are all alone by ourselves at this open ocean, the Northern Atlantic. The English call it ‘the POND’, as if it were very small and still.
It was stormy (wind 25-30 knots) and rainy yesterday. While adjusting the sails in the rain, we heard someone calling our boat on the VHF radio. We looked our AIS display but his boat was not showing on our display. He had ‘receive only AIS Device’, ours transmits and receives, so he could see us, but we could not see him. We gave each other’s GPS coordinates. He was about 3 miles distant from us in this big ocean. We had a brief conversation and made sure we did not hit each other during this rainy low visibility weather. He has been at sea all by himself for last ten days or so. Many days, he didn’t have wind so he used his engine but couldn’t go far. He wants wind to go his destination. We told him the predicted weather information that we downloaded via Ham Radio GRIB files. He has been sailing the last 3.5 years, started sailing from South Africa and stayed in the Caribbean briefly. Then, he left Saint Martin last month to sail to Azores but decided to skip Azores and go to Scotland. He is a Norwegian. His dream was to sail around the world but he needs to work now. He plans to sell his boat and find a job. I assume he can say “Been there and done that though even if it was not a complete sail around the world.”
According to the chart, we are currently about 300 NMS (Nautical Miles) distant from the lowest maximum iceberg limit in Northern Atlantic. John jokes about ‘Global Warming’ but I take it rather seriously. Regardless, we will go south of the limit line. We don’t want to hit an iceberg by not taking the defined information on the chart.
Sailing across the ocean is not for everyone; even some of my family discouraged me from doing it. There are challenges and adventures. Sheer terror sometimes exists. It is much better than boredom for me. I will continuously pursue whatever adventures for the rest of my life while I can.
Kay Chung at N37.15/W55.50 on July 6, 2017 at 18:00 GMT