FROM 1-27. Indian Ocean Examiner

Oct 31, 2005 - 1745hrs UTC

1745hrs 31 Oct 2005 UTC 39’39”S 030’00”E Ref 506

Pete was reading some more Shackleton. There’s hope for us yet – when things were tough on Elephant Island, ‘the Men’, scientists, tradesmen, officers, were given a tablespoon of methylated spirit in a pint of warm water flavoured with sugar and ginger for their Christmas drink. MMMM! A Con with a difference when desperation really sets in. We haven’t any seal blubber, but I’ve been eying off the ferals and they are getting nervous.

And Shackleton talked of a ‘presence’ that both he and Wilde felt during the boat trip and on their trek across S. Georgia, that helped them make the right decisions. I’ve often wondered about that – is it simply an artifice of the godfearing mind to enable it to cope with superhuman obstacles? I’ve never felt presences out here, although I don’t really think one can compare experiences like that, but I have sometimes reached what I think Robert Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – cult book when I was at Uni) meant when he described ‘the high country of the mind’ – an intensely heightened awareness of self and surroundings induced by circumstance rather than drugs and alcohol. But, of course, I’m sure that the Albatross in the storm was Tommy’s ghost! Far too knowing an eye for anyone else’s presence!

We’re still rolling along, storm jib and tri, although the wind has abated a bit. I pulled in the latest grib after sending my last and there is a very tight little low forming directly behind us with attendant nastiness. More exercise for the freckle, I fear, so we are not rushing to change sail – might even see the night out.

Somewhere back in the blur of all this, I wrote about things starting to wear out – my boots, I think. My hands too – they have started to wrinkle and the nails are going white. Noice. Insufficient Medicinal Compound – where’s Lily? And my searug – worn almost skinless before we left, is now gossamer thin and mildewed as well. Still works though.

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