Passing about one time zone a week, on a small floating island, powered only by the wind.
It is mindblowing if you think about it. No fuel, no complicated machinery. Just a bunch of planks, ropes and canvas brought together with love and craftsmanship. That is all you need to travel halfway around the world, from a cold winter in northern Europe to a tropical island where you can climb a tree for fresh coconut. It gives you another perspective on things.
We guide the ship while she playfully shoots over the water. The rhythm of the bow cutting through the waves as if resembling a heartbeat. Fast and excited while a good Tradewind pushes us ahead. We make way, even when we sleep or lay back to watch the stars. Meanwhile, the temperature increases every day noticeably and we have to change the clock every week.
When sailing on the ocean, you are completely cut off from land (save for a 4kb message to get the weather report) There is nobody around. No lights from other ships, buoys or cities. Being so isolated from the world is like a breath of fresh air. No distractions. Only the sea and the ship. At night we bathe in the light of the full moon and watch as Sirius twinkles like a diamond in the sky. During the day we watch the flying fish glide over the water and bang headfirst into the next wave. Sometimes a few of them skip by towards the horizon together. Is it a flock or a school? We decide that flock is the more appropriate term.
We trim the sails for balance and speed as we go. A well-trimmed ship is much easier to steer and faster, so I like to optimise and play with the sail plan as the wind and the waves shift. The main sail gives a lot of power, but when there is little wind and some waves, it can start flapping and make the ship roll more. It also needs to be balanced out with more sail power on the bow to prevent a windward helm (a tendency of the ship to want to turn towards the wind). The stunsails help a lot here.
It's not just about maximal sail area or individually perfectly trimmed sails, but the balancing between different sails so they work together to propel the ship forward. Sometimes having an extra sail actually brings her out of balance and it can even slow her down.
Keeping your senses open to slight changes and adjusting to them is like a continuous dance.
Out here, the Tradewind carries on steady between 3 and 5 Beaufort. At night, when the air cools down, clouds can grow quickly and then pass by or vanish again as suddenly as they appeared. Sometimes they bring a little squall and we quickly strike some sails and enjoy riding it out for a bit. The crew are getting attuned to each other and they start to handle manoeuvres together like a well-oiled machine.
At the beginning of the trip, we made a bet about when we will arrive. Everyone came up with a date between the 16th and the 23rd of January. Except for Eilish. She proposed the 12th of January. We all had a good laugh about that absurd choice…
But trimming the sails, having a strong wind and a great ship, the 12th seemed less unrealistic every day. A week ago, I decided I didn’t care about my bet anymore (the 18th of January). It would just be awesome if we could keep on top of it and actually make Eilish win!
It's the 12th now and we have only 200 more miles to go… If we arrive before the morning of the 14th, she’ll still win. The wind is dying a bit down. It’s going to be interesting until the end of the race!
The trip went very fast and I will be sad to leave the beautiful ocean behind. Maybe we should have slowed down... But yes, it's all about that dance. And this was a great one.