FROM 1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil &1st circumnavigation

Apr 18, 2005 – 2245hrs UTC

2245hrs 18 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 174

This will be a difficult one to write. It is half formed in my head and I’ll try and stumble through it and bring y’all along for the ride. Perhaps the old marathon analogy to start with: a marathon course is a 42.2 km stretch of (usually) roadway. No more, no less, especially if Steve Jackson measured it. What you then make of it depends on experience, training, attitude, planning and what you had for breakfast – in no special order. It is indifferent and intolerant – you start, you finish or you don’t. Whether you start is another decision and one that needs some bottle to make, occasionally. I’ve run (I think) 26 marathons and I have never started one convinced that I will finish it, but in each of them there has come a moment when I have known for certain that I will. It usually comes at around 30k but never ever before half way (ignore, for the purpose of this analogy, the Whitworth dictum that half way comes at 36k – that’s a mental rather than a metric concept).

So ever since about June last year, when I knew that my job was finished, this voyage has been in my mind. All the time – as a series of lists, of hurdles to clear (like registering the boat), jobs to do, planning, fixing and the thousands of little details any one of which could have been a showstopper before we started and still could be out here. It has been something that I have carried all the way, with a lot of help from Hilary, Pete, Stephen Jackson, Malcolm Robinson and many many others who have contributed with generosity and skill. But at no time have I ever dared to think about arriving in Falmouth. Rounding the Horn, arriving in the Falklands – milestones, but the job was still ahead. As it turned out, a reasonable position to take – any examination of our track and the logs from Stanley to here would show how hard it has been to get this far. We weren’t expecting 80 knots once, let alone twice, after Stanley and every stage of the trip from Hobart has tended to confound my expectations in some way. Research failure perhaps, but I imagine every experience of the journey would be different anyway.

All that changed this morning. The grib file forecast that the wind would go from zero to something, and the something would be from the east somewhere. And that’s what happened. We are in a SE breeze, just as forecast, making 6+ knots, faster in the right direction than at any time since the Horn – and the forecast says it’s with us at least as far as the equator. There’s lots of work to do, but I’m now convinced we will get to Falmouth barring the container ship in the night, which should be entirely avoidable. It’s a good feeling – the weight is really off and we can relax a bit for the first time since Sydney. So relax with us, eat your cornflakes and off to work, all y’all and have a beer with us later. And thanks for coming along this far – I don’t know how long you’ll have to hang on till Falmouth but watch this space. If anyone wants to register ETA predictions with Malcolm, I’ll shout the owner of the closest guess a six pack of Dr Coopers. All predictions to be in before we get to the Azores and the earliest best guess gets the goodies. No discussion will be entertained.

[ed: you can use the competition page to submit your estimates]

Thanks for the article, Stephen – Malcolm has OCR’d it and will send it to us. We cant receive anything but plain text.

Kim – I think they probably did tell it as it was for them – they had 37 (KC) to nearly 60 (FC, AR) ft boats with room to sit reasonably comfortably below without bracing and probably hadn’t had to cut up their cockpit cushions to make padding for a recalcitrant fuel tank. We have only the floor (cushionless) or our bunks to sit on/in below decks – this is a tiny boat by comparison. Generally, the bigger the boat, the easier the motion and we’re just the wrong length for the seas we’ve been pretending to get recently, hence our Fox Studios mock up bus shelter effort. Must have convinced some of you.

Must go and check for container ships out there in the studio.

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