19 Nov Halfway to the cape
Halfway to the cape
19 November 2013
Leo Boersen continues:
“The world around the ‘Oosterschelde’ has been very small for the last couple of days, since fog was our companion all around, sometimes reducing visibility to half a mile or less. You might expect in foggy weather there is no wind, but the opposite is true: the ‘Oosterschelde’ has encountered favourable winds, WNW 4-5 Bft, allowing our schooner a speed of 8 knots most of the time and sometimes even 10 knots. The odd Sooty albatross nosing at our wake, and one or two petrels and also, but not visible with the naked eye nor on the radar, a bit north of us –some 15 miles– the ‘Tecla’ is all there is now. At some time early in the morning –our mornings start 9 hours later than in Rotterdam since we are in the western hemisphere– we have crossed the 3000 miles mark, the distance from our actual position on the chart to a point on the 50th parallel on the other side -east that is– of the cape. If we reach that point without using our engine, all on board qualify as official Cape Horn sailors according to a French association and we will receive the appropriate awards in due course, we are led to believe. For the time being we stick to a steady compass course of somewhere between 55 and 75 degrees, and to the sharp ear, the soft but highly romantic and inspiring music from Phil Woodland’s harmonica can be heard over wind and seas, mixed with the smell of daily fresh bread from Job’s galley.
The daily weather reports from MeteoConsult help captain Arian to set the best course, avoiding the high waves and storms brought about by the Lows to our west and the Highs to our east. Heavy seas and storms do not bring us any faster to our destination, is what he tells us. We actually have taken down some sail –the mizzen, our biggest- to slow down our speed as to not run into rough seas, but let them pass us before us. Continuously we sail over our starboard side. The last couple of days we have been doing quite well. Yesterday 212 miles, the day before 172 and the day before that 156 miles. Our course over the ground is roughly between 80 and 100 degrees, all very good for this old lady. Our current position is 52-41′ S and 136-35′ W and if you look on the map you will see that our longtitude is a bit east, about 3 degrees, of the Alaska–North West Territories borderline. We are about halfway between Auckland and the cape now.
Yesterday we have seen the last episode of ‘Longtitudes’ and if only John Harrison would have had the support of a good lawyer to counter the noise of the Board of Longitudes, his clock would have been available decades earlier, is my firm belief. Our on-board entertainment today was a lecture by Olaf Swart, talking about Dutch wars at sea and genevers, and free ‘oorlams’ (drams) were served to all hands, before the next film ‘Hornblower’ was started. Woody, the ship’s mate, explained the working of the sextant, but because of the clouds and drizzle, the practical use of the sextant will be postponed until we see the sun again, most likely in the next couple of days, if we are lucky.
It must also be mentioned that very nice presents were given to Arno –he won the competition to predict when we should see the first vessel- and Werner and Phil for spotting the vessel as it happened, the ‘Tecla’, as the first one on board, and to Phil also, in my judgment, because he is the sole musician on board. Arno was extra pleased, because tomorrow breakfast will be served in his bunk and he also was awarded an extra watch in addition to a jar with chocolate paste! Phil and Werner received bottles with alcoholic beverages and Werner was kind enough to share with all hands the delicious Torte appearing from the galley and served as Nachtisch.
The clock on board was put forward another hour today just after dinner. Slowly but steadily we continue eastwards to the cape. Surely we will get there, but whether we will actually be able to see her with our own eyes remains to be seen. But we all know: Man reist ja nicht um an zu kommen, sondern um zu Reisen. Time will tell.”