Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Wishful thinking

Some times we talk about what our next boat will be. We are as sure about there being a next boat as we are about keeping Enki - that is, 100% sure there won't be another boat and 100% sure we will sell Enki at the end of this voyage. However, that doesn't stop us from thinking about other boating adventures we might have, should things work out differently for us....should we win the lottery, should we not grow old and doddery, should all our children suddenly come into money and be able to join us for holidays wherever we might wash up. You never know. Dreams are free.

We have even discussed a motor boat. We've met a few people who've gone that route. I wouldn't have considered it until we came across Southern Cross in the Caribbean. With a name like that, you'd assume an Australian or NZ pedigree. But no. She was built by a Dutch sea captain, and is still registered out of Rotterdam though George and Mickie, the current owners, are the kind of Dutch you can't quite imagine ever living in Holland.

(As usual, here I digress: George reminded me of Klaus Kinski in Fitzcaraldo, an old Africa hand, a former trader. And Mickie, well, Mickie was charming, brought up in Surinam, a former Dutch colony in South America. We met them in February in Prickly Bay, Grenada - Alex helped them with a small radio problem they had. They told us they were heading north to St Martin's, and shipping the boat back to Rotterdam from there in April. They'd been living for 12 years on her in and around the Caribbean. They had grandchildren. It was time. Then in March we saw them in Bonaire, looking as though they'd escaped a long prison sentence. They couldn't do it, they said, just couldn't. Rotterdam was so grey. But as I say, they were a certain kind of Dutch, the kind who once rampaged the world).

Southern Cross looked like a little ship, though at 50 feet her waterline was no longer than Enki's. She was handsome in an old-fashioned way, her traditional interior open and workable, and unlike modern plastic motor boats, she had plenty of room on the deck for walking about, or sitting and watching the world go by. We could see ourselves living on a boat like that, we agreed. We put it in the "to be discussed" file.

What completely passed me by was the motor part.

We're now midway between Bora Bora and Tonga, and we're motoring. I love our Yanmar, truly I do, but we've been motoring for more than 24 hours. The wind is light, very light, and our sails were flapping about, and Alex hates flapping sails and a clanging boom (even with a preventer and a boom brake, you get some clang). I'm not crazy on it either, but the noise of the engine takes up all the space in my head. I'm irritable. Why did I ever think we could have a motor boat? I pour over the grib files and listen to other boats on the net reporting on their weather conditions. Althea has 20 knots from the south about four degrees west and one degree further north of us. When will the wind come in here? It must come in soon.

Alex is not bothered by the noise. Actually, he finds the thrum of an engine running smoothly and efficiently a beautiful thing, he tells me. Because the surface of the ocean is so unruffled, it's feasible to put our Gori propeller into overdrive, so at only 1500 revs the Yanmar is pushing 20 tons of boat along at 7.5 knots. This, I agree, is a marvel, while he agrees that the shrill fan in the engine room which cools the engine is tiresome, so we both agree to turn that off from time to time. There will be no mutiny. I go below to make a banana cake. When in doubt, bake - holds good for land, good for sea.

Then he goes down to sleep, and I stay up on watch.

On watch, when we are motoring, the main task is to check the temperature of the engine. There are no other boats out here. The AIS is silenced. For as far as its signal travels, which is much much further than the eye can see, we are alone on a flat featureless ocean under a huge sky in which the sun shines for 12 hours a day. The other 12 hours features the milkiness of the universe. We are making miles. We have cake. We have water. We have fuel. Can you find anything wrong with this scenario? There is nothing wrong.

Just, please can we have some wind....soon? (and strike the motor boat off the wish list).

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: http://www.sailmail.com


  1. We've been having the same comversations! Then we remember motoring across the Pacific! Love your photos bringing back such good memories. We should be back in Australia in November. Where are you planning to check in? Our Matilda is in Fiji and will be heading in to Coffs by the end of October. Enjoy the rest of the trip x

  2. So good to hear from you, Jane - and hope Andy is hale and hearty. We're heading first for Opua, NZ, in the same time frame as Matilda. Hope to see you in Oz over the summer. x