The end is nearHans E4
12/19/2009, 95 nautical miles East of Barbados
Ulric practising the art of napping while on watch! (Hans)
Hard to imagine that tonight we likely will be within visual distance of Barbados, and tomorrow almost sure on shore. Just as hard as to imagine that we are almost two weeks in a row living on a 17 m sloop without land in sight. Except for a Japanese fishing vessel, of which we saw the ligh glow behind the horizon, we have not had visual contact with any craft. Yesterday's exciting moment was a Greek vessel moving to Durban that crossed our path at a distance of 2.2 NM. The first sign of civilization since leaving the Cape Verdes!
In this heat and with this low winds there is not much work to do. Peter reads a book, my book, one of the few books in English that can be found in the bookshops in Duisburg: The Lost Symbol. I bought it in the hope that it would be better than the Da Vinci Code. That book I read in Italian, Il Codice Da Vinci, but it was awfully boring. Maybe this was because my Italian was not good enough and I didn't get really the point, was what I thought in first instance. Then I saw the film ... and knew: it is not my level of Italian; it is just a boring story and Tom Hanks a lousy actor. But that is no news.
This book, about the free-masons in Washington D.C., I started reading in English, but I never got further than the first 20 pages. Not enough to have an opinion yet. The reason is that there are many little things to do on a boat like this so that I cannot really read a book. There is always something to clean up, to wash up, to tidy up. Things that seem unimportant in normal life, but on a boat tidying up is crucial: when having to make manoeuvres in the dark, or in a storm, there is not much time to sort out what you need. Later, on my holiday on Barbados, I hope to read the book to the end: on a white sandy beach with an icecold rum cocktail ....
Today was the day that all three of us felt that the end is near. The concentration is a bit lost. People falling asleep at watch; not consequently wearing lifevests on deck, or securing themselves with lifelines to prevent "man-overboard" situations. We should take a bit care for that. Even in daytime with silent sea conditions it is difficult to spot a person in the water: the swell forms still 1 - 2 m high waves. Alternatively, 175 NM (our distance to Barbados) is a long way to swim. We are just waiting to arrive. Peter is sorting out where the best restaurants are in Bridgetown. For this moment they have to stand my cooking: left overs of yesterday's lunch which we couldn't eat because we had to take down the spi. Omelette with potato, ham, onion, green peas, and some kind of vegetable I bought at the Cape Verdes, which is yellow and has a uniform structure like e.g. a potato. I peeled it and cooked it like a potato (on the advise of the Cape Verdian woman I bought it from). It is sweet, and cooks fast: a few minutes in boiling water is okay.
Enfin, to the left overs I boiled some rice, mixed with cubes of dried ham. And I made a peanutsauce: an experimental version where I put in some of the cinnamon sugar that was used to put on the pancakes earlier this week. Some peanutbutter, whole peanuts, soy sauce, chili, ginger, milk, garlic, and lime juice also go in there. you can put much more in peanutsauce, but we haven't got that available. But the cinnamon: I never put that in before, but I should have! That gives just this extra to the sauce.
We will be anchoring in Carlisle Bay, Bridgetown. This is the Bay where traditionally sailing ships went for anchor in the past centuries. After the trip we made it seems more appropriate to go for anchor there than to move into a luxury marina. As it seems now we will be arriving in the night (UTC)/late evening (Barbados local time). Barbados is flat compared to the mountains that form the Canarian and Cape Verde archipelagoes. The highest point, Mount Hillaby, is 340 m above sealevel. From our cockpit, perhaps 2 m above sealevel, we should be able to have first visual contact with Barbados when we are 40 NM away from Mt. Hillaby. This will be in the evening, around 20h - 21h. With some luck we can spot its silhouette in the sunset. Arrival and anchoring in the dark, then 4 hours longer sleep (!), and a wake-up dive/swim in Carlisle Bay tomorrow morning ...
Peter flies the 22nd or 23rd (I don't remember exactly) to London to share Christmas with his family. Ulric's family will fly in to Grenada (at least he hopes so) and spend Christmas in the Caribbean. I will spent another two weeks on Barbados: I go scuba diving. Something I did a lot a long time ago. But never in the tropics. I dove in the dark and cold waters of the Grevelingen and the Oosterschelde. Beautiful places, but not so blue and filled with colourful coral and fishes as in the tropics. But first I will try to help Ulric sail QRIII to Grenada. That would take a day (140 NM). It depends mostly on the availability of a flight/ferryback to Barbados. Is quite something different than an Atlantic Crossing, a passage from Barbados to Grenada.