L O G B O O K - by John Philp




INTO PALE SEA


Into pale sea - look west at the hill of water : it is half the planet : this dome, this half globe, this bulging eyeball of water, arched over to Asia, Australia and white Antarctica : those are the eyelids that never close; this is the staring unsleeping eye of the Earth.... Robinson Jeffers, The Eye, 1941


MON 5th JUNE - A fine day, the wind at 15 knots from the east. It is day eleven of our passage west from the Galapagos Islands. At sunset the clouds are wispy cotton-ball shapes drifting lazily. As the sun dips below the Pacific a brief green flash is released. The sky is beautiful, refracting a million variations on the colour blue.

TUE 6th - Another gorgeous day, pleasant and uneventful. The rising swell is now from the south-east rather then the east. Tony’s hoping it heralds more wind from that direction. The swell in the meantime causes us to roll around on our beam ends. Tony, much to his relief, fixes the generator which was not charging correctly due to some lose connections.

WED 7th - The wind is up to 18 knots ESE. After the happy fishing of last week it’s strange to think it’s been three days without a fish, though we’re using very old, beat up lures now as we’ve been losing so many first class ones.

THUR 8th - The horizon is hazy to windward, perhaps this heralds more wind. Meanwhile the swell has risen enough that we surf down some of the long breakers.

FRI 9th - A sunny day, wind 18 knots easterly, still rolling on the beams. We finally catch a mahimahi today, breaking the drought.

SAT 10th - A welcome rain squall before sunrise washes the salt off the windows and rigging, but also sucks the wind away for an hour or so, slowing our progress. At sunrise the sky is layered with multi-coloured cloud : burnt orange, light blue, and blue tinged with emerald green. Then the sky goes grey for a moment. Shortly after the clouds develop vermilion tinged underbellies and as the sun escapes the embrace of the ocean the eastern sky radiates with brilliant golden rays of light.

It’s a beautiful day again and there are barely one hundred and forty miles remaining to the Marquesas. I can smell the fragrant tiare already; the sensuous moisture laden air smelling of excess; dramatic volcanic spires bridging heaven and earth... everyones Polynesian fantasy.

SUN 11th - It is day seventeen of our passage. At 4am, in a diminishing breeze, we sail unhurried past the dark shape of Ua-Huka island. Twenty miles further on the rising sun behind us reveals Nuku-Hiva’s jagged peaks. It’s a relatively new island (barely seven million years old!), consisting only of mountains and not much else; like god’s unfinished work the elements haven’t had the time to shape refinements like flat plains, or white sand beaches.

Motoring on we enter Taiohe, a spectacular bay framed by steep mountainous ramparts. Rising to heights of over 800 meters they form a natural amphitheater that plays out a daily drama : at one moment obscured in grey cloud, the next moment visible again, parting to allow beams of sunlight to fall on the peaks while the yachts lie below suspended in the shade. Usually in the afternoons the clouds are ready to release their load of moisture, and the showers can go on for a couple of hours before clearing away once again at sunset.

The other yachts inform us that the officials are quite laid back here and with a public holiday tomorrow we may be stuck onboard for two days until we can be cleared to land! So close but so far... time aplenty to catch up on reading, a rain bath on deck in the afternoon, cleaning the galley and cabins, coffee on deck watching the shore and the other yachts pulling at their moorings, the clouds rolling back and forth, the peaks playing hide and seek behind them.

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