Passage to Cocos Part 3 – By Josje


Officially now day 6 at sea, it was 4am when my alarm awoke me from a deep sleep. With eyes half shut, I walked outside to find a fresh 20 knots of breeze still from the NE. We were on a close reach and making a good 7 knots through the water. I made a cup of tea and nestled into the cushions in the most comfortable corner of the cockpit and peered over the rail where the water was rushing by in the glow of the phosphorescence. I listened to ‘The Moth’ podcasts, some cool 15 minute stories from some really good story tellers and enjoyed the simplicity of nothing on the horizon, nothing on the radar and a constant, consistent breeze.

About 6am, I opened the fridge and ate some leftover Taco Pie that Karin had made for dinner the previous night. Yeah, there’s such a thing in Sweden as Taco pie. There were some false alarms on the fishing lines, where I kept thinking we had hooked something. So I quickly woke Brady up before reeling it in. Turns out we were going too fast for the repala we had out, so it kept sounding the alarm. It did this twice and Brady looked a little tired and grumpy. 6am switch over to Brady, I went back to lie down.

It was about 10am when I got up again and I worked on a current video for a little over an hour in the saloon, which is the most amount of time I can work in front of a screen down below before I start to feel ‘ugh’.

Brady and I decided to do our ‘Interview’ for our ‘Super yacht’ video. What better way to lighten the mood and get the creative juices flowing than a bit of goon before noon? I set the Tripod up in the cockpit and Brady bought out a couple of generously poured cups of wine. I’m surprised he even bought out cups. So we spent the next few hours taking turns talking in front of the camera about this and that, how we got the job, what it was like, how it was different from Delos etc., with big pauses for mouthfuls of wine. Brian and Babs laid on the back deck, casually listening in the sun, enjoying some entertainment from a rather normal Tuesday, (or Wednesday?) afternoon.

Frida made a delicious spag bol for dinner as the sun set and the breeze stayed constant. We were officially out of India as we had passed the southern part of the Nicobar Islands. Lights littered the horizon as a ton of cargo ships were heading east and west through the Great Channel between Nicobar Islands and northern Sumatra. We kept a close look out, as we started the movie “Kon Tiki’. It seemed that Max should have been on that Balsa raft with those Norwegians with his Scandinavian sun kissed hair and beard.

We sailed through a few squalls during the night and tacked as the winds came more southerly. We had made good ground and by the time the sun rose, the clouds were painted pastel pinks and purples from underneath. Still no fish, but we’ve had dolphins swimming at the bow nearly every day. After some tea and a pear, I saw some awful black clouds up ahead as I saw the wind picking up. I woke up Brady and by the time he came out, Delos creaked and groaned as she heeled over in the strong gusts. We reefed all the sails and heard the toilet lids slam shut as we heeled over a little further. The pan from last night rattled and clanked in the sink and slowly everyone from below filtered out through the companionway. My hair flung across my face and little sprays of salt water came sprinkling over the side before the rain started. All 7 of us sat out in the cockpit, wet and tired, too rough to be down below, and not quite enough room in the cockpit for us all to sit comfortably outside in the rain.

We rode out the squall and once things had settled down, I took the massive bunch of now semi-brown bananas down below to make some muffins. A little rain and some baking, mmm nothing like it. It felt like it should have been a Sunday, who knows, maybe it was.

Brady and I sat down for the rest of the afternoon and worked on our video for a few hours before retreating to our cabin to watch a movie.

Delos began heeling far over again as the wind picked up during the sunset and in between mouthfuls of beef curry, we reefed the genoa and the main. We watched the sky turn into darkness and Frida, Max, Brady and I sat and talked about the urge to wanting to party! It was more the idea that romanticized us under the moonlight. We talked about Spain and Ibiza, little cosy cafes, wearing proper clothes, putting on some makeup and running bare feet into a massive outdoor club under the night sky. But there was nowhere else I’d rather had been at that point, hand steering, sailing into the moonlight, trying to point as high as we could, making as much southing as we could under the SE conditions. Brady and I switched out and I cosied into the heeling side of our cabin and fell softy asleep against the gentle rise and fall of the bow.

Theres something about that motion because it was nearly 12 hours before I awoke again and it was my turn for watch. The breeze had died down to a slow but steady 7-10 knots and we were still cruising, just with not as much direction and purpose. Brady passed out plates of lunch and I ate with an appetite as Frida and Babs sat behind me busy with their drawing pads and pens.

It had been a week of sailing at this point but for some reason, it didn’t feel like it had been this long. It was what we just needed though, some space, no other people, no provisioning, no officials to call into, and no nothing. We were forced to just BE. We never really know what time it is unless it’s our watch, there’s no cellphones, no internet, no connection to the outside world apart from our sat phone for a random email here and there. No grocery store to wander on down to, we are just here. Wherever here may be.

The sky was clouded over with a grey blue tint of relaxation and calm. Little sections of the sky opened up and soft light filtered in between the clouds down onto the ocean. I looked around for a long time and realized I didn’t feel alone. I’ve never really felt alone on the ocean. I didn’t feel small and I didn’t feel far away from land, I didn’t feel far away from anything really. Its a subtle empowering feeling, it’s the complete contrary to being in society where there is this constant pressure to do something, to feel something, to be somewhere.

The excitement of the afternoon was a big brown bird that flew past the boat.

I don’t know which is worse, pitching or rolling. We experienced the extremes of both during the night. The first half, we were slamming into the confused 25-30 knots of squally SE winds, my face all screwed up as we free falled and eventually smashed into the depths of a wave, the whole boat shaking with the after shock. The second half of the night, the wind decided to turn NW again and fairly light, allowing us to put the genoa out on the pole and the main and mizzen out with the preventers. Then the rolls began. Finally the right heading of 145, except we were completely side ways to the swell, one way, then the next, we were rolling ourselves up in one big ‘ugh’ and ‘blah’. I don’t think anybody slept very well at all.

By morning, things weren’t any better and we were still rolling all over the ocean. The winds were confused, squally and just kind of plain annoying. This part of the trip wasn’t really a ‘set and forget’ kind of sail, we were constantly changing the sail arrangement, rolling, pitching, swaying, no wind and squalls. We had definitely found ourselves in the ITCZ (inter tropical convergence zone), an area of confused and unpredictable weather that straddles the equator. In the periods that it was a little more comfortable down below, we all got our laptops out and did an hour or two of work.

It was another day that passed by in quite the blur. The occasional rain shower made everything a bit miserable and grey. Although I did manage to take a nice outdoor shower in one of the heavier downpours.

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