FROM 2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

The Slough of Despond?

The middle watch, from midnight to 0300 in Berrimilla. That time when, for most humans, the circadian rhythms are expecting to be restoring a sleeping body. That time when, for one who is awake, doubts, uncertainty, foreboding, dread, guilt – all those corrosive and negative feelings and emotions boil and fester at the edge of consciousness. That time of loneliness and exposure when the neurons are most finely tuned to the unusual – and prepared to interpret the worst from it. That time when the moaning howl of the wind in the rig coalesces with the knowledge that it's cold, wet and raining outside and the mind flinches and tries to hide. That time when the magnitude of the task ahead seems too big to manage, too unending, too frighteningly loaded against our weary decrepitude.

The wind in the rig this watch is a low, tuneful moaning hum – reminds me occasionally of bits of the humming chorus from Nabucco. It's a steady 25-30 knots, way ahead of the grib prediction and my middle watch conditioned mind thinks it's seriously unfair. We've just had a couple of big waves, knockdown size, break over us. They come in threes usually – trains of waves with much more attitude, more bite that the rest. Mostly too, when you think the time has past and things are on the improve. Scary and you can never relax.

The sea state is the result of conditions to the south – big rolling swells with confused wind waves on top, some pointy and breaking as they are affected by the local wind. Berri rolling wildly – difficult to make, let alone drink a cuppa and dunk the restorative McVities. You know you are alive and you wonder, perhaps, why you have chosen to realise it just this way. And we've got about 48 days to go, more if we go via Kerguelen. Here, it's dawn – we are 3 hours ahead of Greenwich. The sea is grey and roiling white and the wind is blowing spray from the tops of breaking waves.

Pete gently snoring.

One comment on “The Slough of Despond?

  1. motorbikematt on said:

    Stay strong amigos! You're doing an amazing job and although I cannot imagine being in your shoes I sure can say I wish I could be.Stay strong indeed!