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The Oh-My-God-A Passage…

We planned on crossing the Anagada Passage in daylight. That way we figured we would be able to see whatever nature threw at us. The chart plotter was showing that at our current speed of 2/4 kts our ETA at Virgin Gorda would be 0400. We would be arriving when it was still pitch black, but I planned on “heaving to” and just waiting till dawn before approaching any reefs. 

The wind was light and fickle – the sun was relentless – we sailed, or more accurately flopped, along with a high pressure zone fixed directly above us. Eventually I had to give up with the genoa and sail with just full main and engine purring along at 1000 rpm. It was perfect cruising chute weather. But I just couldn’t muster the energy to haul the massive chute up from down below and spend the 30 minutes or so configuring sheets; furling line; leaning over the bow to clip it on to the spinnaker pole etc etc…. Perhaps if I had had just one working crew mate (Pete is never there when you need him..) … but I decided against it in the end. I was sad about that – this may well be the last chance to use it.

 But what was most remarkable was the sea state and currents. At least 3 different wave patterns – and although none were more than 2 meters – it was enough to make the journey one of those washing machine experiences. I had to use the engine to make any progress. For those of you who have slid down the Alderney Race, you will be able to imagine the sea state – except this was going to be home for the next 24hrs at least. Still, it was 300C and the breeze was like a gentle hairdryer.

I settled down into my solo watch rota – setting the iPhone alarm to go off every 30mins and arranging the cockpit cushions into as comfortable a fashion as I could. Around midday I heated one of the three packets of bolognaise that the Mathematician had made in Antigua and stored in the freezer. Luxury indeed. The Mathematician joined me on deck, but on taking one spoon of food decided that another nautical mile should be marked in the time-honoured manner – we had started to run worryingly low on sick bags.

The sea became eerily calm for a few hours – not a ripple and as if by magic we were joined by a pod of dolphins –  yes, I know I said I wouldn’t write about dolphins or sunsets, but….here is the sunset… – the dolphins came to visit too!

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The Mathematician stood watch while I got 3hrs sleep from 1900 to 2200. Then she was despatched to the bowels and lay down in the saloon. Or did she go down to the saloon to despatch her bowels. Its academic. I took the night vigil alone. We were only half way across the Passage. The high pressure meant that the night sky was peppered with star upon star, on and on into the depths of space; the planets were clearly visible as if their orbiting plane was a ring encircling the Earth, a shooting star careered into the atmosphere and flew into dust. The wake of the boat was shattered by phosphorescence. An inky black sea merged seamlessly with the sky at an imagined horizon and then, rising to a glorious arc above, it challenged me to truly consider those familiar questions that have engaged mankind for generations. I put a towel over the chart plotter to remove the annoying glare of man-made technology, and lay back on the cockpit seat, mesmerised. The work, and the intention of God was clear to see. At moments like this you have to balance the knowledge of your incredibly minute existence with the your love for life itself and all it has to offer. You can relax; meditate even but also be alert and ready to take on whatever your puny body can handle; constantly monitor your thoughts and fears about the project you have taken on. As Tony Robbins said “life is found in the dance between your deepest desire and your greatest fear..” 

Having pondered these weighty thoughts – I went below to eat the Philosopher’s share of the bolognaise – cold with some pitta bread – it doesn’t get much better than this.

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