Passage To Cocos – Part 6 – By Babs


Tossing and turning throughout the night, it didn’t seem like I got much sleep at all. I remember waking up in the middle of the night really frustrated. All I wanted was to sleep. Or even a bed that was still. But the more I fought it, the more I couldn’t sleep. These squalls weren’t going to leave. I just had to accept it and live with it. The wind had been blowing a good 15-30 knots the past few days, and Delos was getting tossed about like a rag doll! Big swells would approach Delos and we would go up and then go back down, and CRASH! The bow hits the water, creating this explosion noise. I jump up. Thinking it was a nightmare, I lay back down. As I close my eye’s, my alarm goes off for my watch. As exhausted and tired as I was, I get out of bed and stumble toward the head. Everything is a mission when we are rocking like this. You can hear the creaking of the boat. The cutlery in the draws going back… and forth….back….and forth. The curtain is on a lean, flowing around from the fan. The fruit hammock is swinging back and forth. The cups and spices all lined up in the holders with string around them clinking together. As I stopped and listened, it sounded like a song.. or an orchestra of some sort.

I stepped out into the cockpit, Brady sitting at the helm with his headphones in. The wind was up to 20 knots, Delos was rocking back and forth with the swells, and water crashing at the front of the boat. I sat at the helm with Brady napping in his waterproof gear. Watching the waves, it was a little scary, and I was clingy on to the seat at times so I didn’t fall.

I looked at the time and it was already 8am. Two hours flew by and Brian arrived for his watch. “Good morning”, I said. I explained our course, what sails were out, and how the wind was shifting from East to South East. We only had 220 miles to go! This feeling of excitement came over me, as I realised all this rocking would be over soon and we would get to a fairly still anchorage.

Feeling exhausted, I took a nap in the saloon. It must have felt like minutes because I woke up to sound of Max and Frida making cereal. I got up and to make a bowl of cereal. Sitting in the cockpit with everyone, we noticed we lost the BBQ cover in the squalls. “Oh man, that sucks”, Brady says. “It must have been so windy!”.

When the boat rolled so much, it was difficult to do anything. So everyone was either lying down, listening to their headphones or watching a series. Brady and Josje were watching a series in the saloon together on one side, and Max was lying down on the other side. Karin and Frida were watching “The Mentalist” and Brain was doing some Delos work on his laptop.

Time flew by and it was already 11:30, so I decided to start making lunch. Delos was crashing back and forth as I stumbled to the galley. I got some vegetables out of the fridge and put them on the bench. Bad idea. They went flying to the other end of the galley. So I put them wedged between the pumpkin and some bowls. I got the big pot out from the back and walked back to the galley.

I started with the onions, chopped them up, and put them in a bowl straight away so they didn’t go flying everywhere. Next, the garlic, getting the hang of the swaying of the boat. I put the rope up, and leant against it. It seemed so much more stable. I chopped some tomato and put them in a bowl too. I turned on the gas and started frying the onion and garlic. Then I cracked some eggs, and mixed it with some milk, and salt and pepper. Happy I didn’t spill any of it, I threw it into the pan. Mixing it around, I threw in some baked beans. Woah, it got hot fast. I look around the boat and everyone was hooked into their series and movies. It felt as if the fan was blowing hot air, and I was trapped in this sauna bubble, so I opened the little hatch above me. Oh my god, the breeze from the ocean was incredible. I finished with the pan, so I put it into the sink, so it didn’t go flying. I grabbed the pot and filled it with water and pasta. Trying not to spill it, I put on the brace metal holders so the pot was stable. While the pasta was boiling, a massive swell hit and suddenly a big splash came into the hatch. Brady and Josje look up. “Close that hatch, so we don’t get soaked”, Brady said. As soon as I close it, the air got so warm and I braced myself on the rope, trying to prepare all the bowls. Everything was finished, and I had to get the water out of the pot, so Brady helped me hold the pot and pan while I served it into the bowls. Lunch for 7 people on a rocking boat complete! “Lunch is ready!”, I yelled out. Everyone crawled out of their cocoons and grabbed a bowl and walked out into the cockpit. Everyone had tired eyes, swaying with the waves.

As soon as lunch was finished, everyone was back to bed. I cleaned up and finished up with the dishes. Woah, a simple meal is such a mission when Delos is rocking around like this!

I slammed into the cushions of the saloon and got my computer out. Holding on to it, I get a pillow below my head and start watching “Marley” the documentary. I put the computer onto the table and held onto it the whole time so it didn’t slide down the table. I finished watching it, and it’s such an inspiring story.

I really wanted to make pumpkin pie with bacon bits for dinner, but it seemed impossible in these conditions, so I went for a more simple meal. Tuna salad. Max, Frida and I ate in the saloon, because there was not much room in the cockpit, and if there was, you would get water splashed onto you every 2 seconds! After dinner, everyone gave me their bowls, and I washed them and put them away. It’s better having no dishes in the sink as they get knocked about in the night making really loud noises.

I felt my hair and it was so greasy, I couldn’t remember the last time I washed it. I decided to attempt a shower.

Man, it was mission from the start! I stepped into the head, closed the shower rail, and a massive wave crashed at the bow, and I ended up in mid air at one point. I had second thoughts, but I knew I would feel refreshed after a shower. So I grabbed the shower head and started rinsing. Water was getting splashed around while I was trying to stay balanced, it was chaos! I was slipping around everywhere, so I ended up holding onto the sink and my legs in a squat position clinging on for dear life! I got a pump of shampoo and managed to rinse that off without dying. I got some conditioner, and usually I leave it in for a few minutes, but I just wanted to get out of there and sit down! So I quickly rinsed it out, dried off, and stepped out into the cockpit. Ahhhhh, the fresh breeze cooling me off was so incredible. My watch started at 8pm, so I got some water and walked back through the companion way ready to start my watch.

Brady was fully geared up in bright yellow colours, looking pretty keen as. I stood behind him, holding onto the rail of the helm, and in a lunge position, so I didn’t fall over. “How’s it going?” I said quite loudly so he could hear me in the wind. “Yeah good, we got the genoa and mizzen out, reefed once.. there’s been about 20-35 knots of wind, pretty steady 8 knots the past couple of hours. I didn’t change the autopilot, so you’re probably all good to leave it at that course for a while, unless there’s a massive wind shift, if anything happens, I’m gonna lay here for a while, so just wake me up if you need me”, Brady said, getting some pillows ready to lay on.

This watch I didn’t listen to my iPod because I was enjoying the sounds of the ocean and just thinking. Thinking how crazy it is in these gnarly conditions. How the wind was so noisy, I looked out at the moon, so bright behind the clouds. The never ending horizon, that was moving up and down so much. I did horizon scans and checked the radar every 10 minutes. There were no other boats, no sign of anything in the water. The wind picked up, then went down every now and then. Sometimes we would go on a massive lean and water splashed into the cockpit. I saw the boat speed pick up to 9 and a half knots. Then the wind dropped again. I had a head-ache and I was so exhausted. It was nearing the end of my watch. My eye’s were slowly dipping, and luckily Brian arrived for his watch. He stumbled around the cockpit looking around to see the conditions. The wind picked up a bit. “Should we reef the genoa a second time?”, I asked him. “Nah, I think it’s ok for now”, he said. We were still going a good 8 knots. I stood up and walked down the companion way. “Good-night”, I said. “Good-night, have a good sleep”, Brian said, as he sat down at the helm.

I got some water, set up some pillows in the saloon and laid down. It was fairly noisy, so I got my IPod and was playing Bob Marley softly in one ear, the other on a pillow as I closed my eyes.

I woke up this morning getting tossed about. I leaned my head forward and see Max sleeping in the saloon on the other side. I heard Brady and Josje in the cockpit. “Woah! That was a big one!”, Brady said. I put my head back down and fell back asleep. Suddenly the whole boat goes on a massive lean and Max and I go sliding forward, almost out of the saloon. We both brace ourselves and hold onto the table. We look at each other, Max’s face half tired, half shocked, his eye’s closing again and we both fell back down to sleep. Jesus, the whole situation was crazy!

After a while I opened my eyes, without having slept, and got up. I walked out to the cockpit and was shocked at how big the waves were. They looked taller than 5 metres! Delos got smashed from every direction. When the boat was at the tip of the wave, it broke into the cockpit, rolling either way, swaying like crazy. It felt like we were surfing the waves. If they came behind us, it pushed us forward. And the waves that got to it’s biggest were the scariest. If we happened to be right under it’s nose, we went swaying left and right so much, you were lucky to be clinging on to something, otherwise you would crash somewhere tragic.

Brady was brave enough to harness himself and sit at the bow. I watched him when a massive wave came crashing and it seemed like he disappeared and then the bow would spring back up. He stumbled back into the cockpit soaking wet. “That was awesome!”, he said, getting the harness off. “Was it cold?” I asked him. “Yeah! It was really cold!”, he said as he sat down.

I had my watch and it was super crazy conditions. Brian went up to the bow also and got soaked, “Oh man, there was a massive swell that came up, and when it crashed down, my legs were in the water and my foot smashed back down”.

Brian made some noodles for lunch as we all sat in the cockpit. “Thanks for lunch Bri”, everyone said handing their bowls to him down in the galley. We were getting closer and closer to Cocos Keeling. I checked the distance and it said 15 miles! So close to land! We called customs and we heard the voice of an Australian guy. We all stayed quiet and then once Brian was off the radio, we all got so excited! “It makes me more excited hearing that he has an Aussie accent!”, Frida said with a massive smile on her face.

Brian went on watch as the waves got smaller and smaller. I lay down in the saloon and Frida and I looked at each other with excited smiles on our faces. “I can’t wait to step on land”, I said. The spirits were high and everyone was super excited. “I SEE LAND!”, Brian yelled. Everyone rushed to the cockpit. I looked out to try and see land over the waves. When we got up to the tip of a swell, you could see a little mushroom type looking piece of land. “I see it!”, I yelled out. We got the film camera out and everyone was so excited. We slowly approached more land and I could see a long strip of land with beautiful palm tree’s. “I see tree’s!”, Frida said happily. The last few hours seemed so slow. We could see it, but we were still so far away. I closed my eyes and all of sudden we were there! How crazy the time flew by.

We saw Direction Island, and we were coming a little south, so we had to jibe north of the island to make the turn. The land was so green. The water so blue. It was such a change from seeing blue or grey ocean and skies for over two weeks! I got the binoculars out and had a closer look of the island. You could see beach, and the waves crashing onto the reef. I had a scan of the island because I thought I saw some people on the beach. Other people!? Could you imagine. Only seeing Josje, Brady, Karin, Brian, Max and Frida, we were all excited to see other form of human existence. But after I scanned the island with the bino’s, it was only logs. I wonder if there are many people on these islands. By the look of it now, it seemed tiny with no living things. Apart from some birds that swooped towards to the swells and came back up. The energy was high and we were all so happy to finally see land! “I SEE LAND! I SEE LAND!” we would all be singing and dancing.

We turned in towards the lagoon and saw a big cargo ship. We had to be careful not to get so close to the reef. Brian was at the helm, and Karin standing at the bow directing where to go. There were buoys out so we could follow them. I was standing at the forward deck watching us drift closer towards the lagoon. “I see dolphins!”, Karin yelled from the bow. “Oh wow! Hey you guys! Dolphins!”, I yelled to the others in the cockpit. Frida and Max came rushing out. There were so many of them. Really big, blue ones. Diving out of the water, swimming on their sides. Such beautiful creatures. It’s a really good sign to see dolphins when you arrive to an anchorage. It’s like good luck.  We are all watching these amazing creatures and then they swam away and disappeared into the big blue. We arrived in the lagoon and there were two other sailing boats. I was really glad to see some other boats, almost like having sea neighbours. We set the hook and dropped the anchor. I saw something bigger than a fish swimming on the port side. “There’s a shark!” I yelled. There were 5 little reef sharks swimming around Delos. They were really cute ones, with black tipped fins and tails.

We put on some music and all got some beers and sat down in the cockpit as the sun was going down. “Really good job everybody”, Brady said laying down. We reminisced our 16 days at sea and were all relieved, exhausted and so happy to be at an anchorage that was still!

“Should I make American breakfast or BLT’s?”, Brian asked everyone. Oh.. tough choice. “I think you should make whatever you feel inspired to do”, Josje said. Brian went into the galley and started making dinner. Everyone spread out in the boat and did their own thing for a bit. I was so exhausted, so I lay on the pillows in the cockpit and watched the sky dim down. I was dozing off and then suddenly I hear Brian from the galley “Dinner’s ready!”. Everyone scrambles into the saloon and sits down like little kids ready for a feast. Oh man, I was so hungry. He gave us a plate each with a piece of scrambled eggs. Then slammed down a tray filled with bacon and American pancakes. Our eye’s lit up like it was Christmas. We all dug in and covered it with maple syrup. After we ate dinner, everyone looked really sleepy. “WHOA…I am so ready to lay down now”, Karin said as her eyelids drooped. We all laughed and enjoyed the quiet Delos for a while before everyone disappeared back into their cocoons ready for a good nights sleep.

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