45 531 S , 165 49 E
With over 1,000 miles sailed since Dunedin I am still looking back. The 12,000 remaining ahead are too much to contemplate, but I am changing. Earlier today, feeling the isolation, your Skipper shouted and roared and walked the decks. But sure who cares?
I don't matter and am just a drop in the ocean. The problem is that I am distressingly sane, everybody else is mad. I state this as not only being a fact, but the truth!! As I sail around the bottom of the world - struggling to fulfill my dream. It is a logic without logic?
Actually, to my elation, people do care - and thanks to the wonderful update from Sylvie. She kindly described the Skipper's log like ' finding a bottle in the sea' and reported the launch of our collective challenge '13,000 miles for 13,000 smiles'. Already for Le Project Imagine there is a response for people to document their little big actions for each mile we sail. It's wonderful.
The first application, Sylvie reported, concerns one association wishing to promote the inclusion of young people with disabilities through sport. It seeks 2 volunteers to supervise groups of 1 to 3 children, 1 hour a week for indoor football sessions. Another wants to return to Brittany to kiss his grandmother before she dies...
Now alone, I feel the sheer vastness and isolation. It is humbling. Since departing the Heads at Otago in Kiwiland, I have not seen a solitary ship or any trace of humanity on this ocean - save the omnipresent magnificent Albatross's seabirds who once helped us save a life. Also, while it should be less, I become more afraid and nervous as time progresses. Each wave, each race around the deck, each activity is a risk. Doing nothing is not an option. It's constant.
And while I can be really alone on the ocean and isolated. It is possible for a fellow human being to be totally alone and lonely, in big cities or in the company of thousands of people. Alone, but not lonely, each mile has a goal, a purpose and a direction.
This is living on edge. Time and time again, I remember our crewman Willie on the maxi we sailed with in the Whitbread Around the World Race many years ago. Unexpectedly and in an instant, he was gone overboard. A sagging spinnaker line caught him off guard and swept him over. In my view it is healthy to keep reminding myself of this and always be on high alert, be fearful and be ready to expected the unexpected.
Moving fast in the big seas we quickly lost sight of our man - despite moving fast, slashing sheets, spinnaker lost to the ocean and a rounding up. One of 16 on board I will never forget the emotions. The friend and companion just gone.
And it was the Albatross' who literally saved his life. And now I look astern and see some Albatross hovering.
They are the most extraordinary bird. They can fly over 1,000 kilometers in a day and generally follow anything that moves in the Southern Ocean. This is one of the few places they are found. The wingspans of the great albatrosses are the largest of any bird, exceeding 340 cm (11.2 ft), and gliding with the prevailing winds regularily fly around the bottom of the world
The wings are stiff and cambered and their dynamic soaring of albatrosses is inspiring to airplane designers: German aerospace engineer Johannes Traugott and colleagues have charted the albatross's nuanced flight pattern and are looking for ways to apply this to aircraft, especially in the area of drones and unmarked aircraft.
Anyway, instead of following our maxi yacht a group of Albatrosses broke off and hovered over our Willie as he bobbed in the ocean. Otherwise it could have been much longer before we got him back on board. As it happens he had reached a state of torpor. First you shiver and then it is hypothermia and your eyes glaze over into torpor, the final stage before death.
This was a close call and emotionally draining as we brought our crew mate back and thought me a valuable lesson.
And the Albatrosses hovered all the time. And the more I researched this sea bird the more fascinating it became. They usually partner for life and seldom 'divorce' and most live for over 50 years and delay breeding for longer, have a long courtship process and invest more effort into fewer young.
One named Wisdom that was ringed in 1956 as a mature adult and hatched another chick in February 2017, making her at least 66 years old. She is the oldest confirmed wild bird as well as the oldest banded bird in the world. Above all they need vast space. Perhaps we have something in common?
I am a wave of the sea
And the foam of the wave
And the wind of the foam
And the wings of the wind