Tag Archives: downdrums

Atlantic crossing: pirates of Atlantic

Day 7, 6th of November 2011

I’ve been watching perfect creation.

Brazilians poetically call it “nascer do sol” – “birth of the sun”. It was a birth, solemn, gorgeous. Birth of a God.

The ocean is smooth. It’s not a “mirror”, as we expected downdrums to be, but like a huge piece of noble-grey leather, wrinkled with slightly noticeable tucks.

Oh, if I were a bird, I would love to fly here alone and listen to silence, not interrupted neither by sound of engine, nor scream of a wind generator.

Horizon is fringed by dark clouds – guards of night. The sun infuses them with dozens of goldens spears, and they step apart, not able to bear its power.

No king ever wore these colours in his royal robe. And never will.

Under the sun, surrounded by thunderclouds, – light puffs, creatures of heaven. If angels were born, it would happen this way.

In response to this eastern beauty, north-west covers itself with tender pink flock. Sky and ocean, painted in the same colour, are contrasted by clouds. Another birth takes place there – birth of a rainbow.


… Some moments – and it’s gone. Beauty can’t be caught or fixed in time. It lives in a moment, free flight of a feather in wind. And that’s so sad for us, human beings, who tend to imprison everything we love…

In my rest time I was watching a movie in the cabin. Crawled out to get some water. And heard Chrisa’s whisper from a cockpit:
– Look to the kitchen!

There sat a small bird. Chris told me that little guy was searching shelter from rain. Without ceremonies the bird landed near the entrance to the cabin.
Chris, who had breakfast, offered him a piece of his sandwich. Little one ignored the gift, and, after short inspection of Crisa, went downstairs.

So there I found him. While he was exploring the room, I was hecticly guessing what our unexpected guest perfers from breakfast.
– He has long thin beak. Should be insects.
Unfortunately, we ran out of them yesterday.
– Maybe – berries?

I created “an offer of the day”: dry plum, piece of watermelon and fig. I put all gifts on a plastic bag and placed it in front of him. The bird didn’t pay attention. “Ok, baby boy, I’ll feed you” – I stretched my finger, giving him a ride. It was accepted eagerly.

Perking on my finger, he ignored watermelon, was scared by plum (and I understand him! It looked like a big cockroach) and found fig interesting. He tried a sticky seed. After a short fight he got it. He ate some seeds, had some water from a plastic cup and continued exploration.

He liked to sit on my shoulder: so I pretended I was a pirate with him, pretending to be a pirot’s parrot. I just lacked a wooden leg and had too many eyes.

He flew to my computer and landed on a keyboard. Me and Crisa, sitting on a deck, wondered, why he’d been staring on a screen so long. I went downstairs and discovered that the bird had just fallen asleep on a warm keyboard.

Soon he left. And now I miss this little bird and want him back. An hour together with little one was enough for me to get used to him. I’m just endlessly lonely creature deep inside.
Not to feel sad I imagine how little one flies freely above the ocean. His feathers are dry, stomach is full and I hope he found some rest on the boat. He’s free and hurrying now to his date or whatever : )

Pride costs much but only warmth and trust touch hearts.

When I returned to the deck I saw dolphins. There were eleven of them. They swam in front of yacht, crossing our way from side to side. Breezing air out with loud sound and fountain of drops, they jumped out of water. I heard their voices, they talked to each other.

Or, maybe, to me – too?
Day 8, 7th of November 2011

Night is charming. I feel myself inside the painting that is combintaion of Aivazovsky and Kuindzhi. The moon has been maturing, and soon will be full. It wakes up here early, and till the moment, when the sun goes down, already climbs half of its way through the sky.

Dark clouds slowly stroll, separated, each with its own dignity. In tandem with the moon they created an effect of patrol, poured on the sky canvas, – rainbow nimb around a yellow ball.

Clouds of incredible shaped as if carry a message:
…could be: “Guess, are we blessing or doom?”
…or: “Do you still believe the key to happiness is here?”
…as a variant: “Looks like your lucky star is absent tonight…”
…or, maybe, just: “You still bet it’s going to rain?”

I don’t. I CAN answer the last question. I am watching “Angels and demons” on the deck. And that’s provement I don’t.

Soon after the sunrise the sun starts to burn. If not a wind from the south that we has have the last two days, it would be hot as in oven. The sun is so bright that I can’t stay outside without sunglasses. White paper is painfully hurting my eyes.

In daily life and even while sailing I try to avoid wearing sunglasses. For me eyes are a source of meanings not less important than speech. Talking with a person in sunglasses I get him only partly, missing nuisanes. But on the south it’s different: the sun is ruthlessly bright here, and use of dark glasses is a necessity.

GPS shows 43 hours till we turn. That will be near the equator. Then – other 6 days of sailing. And – oi, Brazil!

I still kinda enjoy. Sure I will cross other oceans in some hazy future. Except Arctic. I prefer to be burnt than frozen. Poetically speaking : )

Sure I want to sail around glaciers of Iceland and Canada. But I suppose several days there will be more than enough for me.

Crossing in couple is not that bad, even pleasant. I’m happy to meet good people in my life, even better than I expect them to be. Sincerely speaking, I has never met bad people. And here’s the question: is it a matter of an attitude or luck?

Our picture of the world is black and white. We call it – statistics. We know well how many assaults or murders took place in last time, how much cheating or ignorance is around, but who ever counted values or compassion or help of people? Many bastards around, we know numbers, but who has counted good people?

We has entered a cloud and got some wind. Course 195. Some rain drops are falling. Little one, hurry up back on board, we miss you here!
Day 9, 8th of November 2011

Toady is my sister’s birthday and I can’t even call her…

Happy birthday, dear Masha!

This night was turbulent. Wind picked up on the evening before. It came from the south but was cold. And unstable: it’d been frequently changing from 10 to 20 knots. Wind brought waves against us. “Vagabond”‘s fore was jumping on them as a basketball ball. Landing back to the wave’s spine, the hull made a terrible noise.

The sky was low and full of clouds. They looked ominous on a dark grey background. Every time the fume passed above us, wind got stronger. We both couldn’t sleep. Downdrums are left behind.

It became a bit better, when Chris changed the course. Before we went to the south along African coast. Now we made a turn in the point that lays more to the west from the first plan:

01°24,3665N, 021°23,2031W.

Now we go straight to Recife, Brazil.

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Atlantic crossing: tet-a-tet with Orion

I can’t say I’ve ever dreamt or planned to cross Atlantic ocean. One day life exposed me to the question:

– Would you if you have chance?

– Why not? – I asked back.

So life gracefully threw an opportunity to my feet. And I picked the challenge up.

Here’s the diary of the crossing Cabo Verde – Brazil that took us 15 days.

Day 1, 31st of October 2011

It was sad to leave Cabo Verde:  almost unexplored, unlived. I felt my being there undone and neglected. But it’s time to go, the journey should continue.

The way between northern and southern groups of islands Cape Verde takes more than a day. We will pass between Bravo and Fogo.

First 24 hours comes to the end, but I still didn’t sleep a minute. Can’t even describe how I feel. And that’s only the first day of crossing.
We sleep in the back cabin. It’s impossible to stay in the front one: from time to time the boat hits the wave and its fore jumps madly.

Sunset diminished in a thick layer of clouds near the horizon. Sea is choppy and uncomfortable, and everything’s shaking. Waves try to invade the cockpit. Everything’s wet, including this notebook and my blanket. Salty drops on my glasses.

We go side-wind. Wind’s a bit stronger than forecast predicted: around 20 knots. We steered in order to save autopilot from excessive stress.
At the beginning of the trip I loved to steer. This way I involved myself in interaction with the boat and sea: watched the yacht response, wind and waves influence. I enjoyed feeling how one gentle move of a steering wheel return the boat on a right course.
I guess steering a boat somehow can get us feeling that we can control nature, make it serve, wherever we go. Dangerous state of mind! Fedor Konyuhov, Russian yatchsman who cruised around the world many times, once said: “When I lost my fear to the ocean, I quit. Otherwise, it would kill me”.
After that he switched on desert safaris, I guess : )

Vagabond in Atlantic

Day 2, 1st of November 2011

Night is half starry, half cloudy. I see a moon, it’s dim. But being veiled by clouds, it doesn’t obscure starlight.
Chris is practical, he prefers moony nights: moon acts like a torch that lights the ocean and all its dangers. I’m romantic, I love nights without moon, when stars are brighter.

Orion accompanies me for the whole night. It doesn’t happen in the northern part of the Earth – it appears only near dawn.  He’s my guardian, and even clouds can’t veil the shine of his bright three-star belt.
The legend says that Orion was a glorious hunter. Once together with his hinds he was chasing a deer. They ran through forests, fields and mountains, and no one of them was going to surrender. But Orion didn’t know: that wasn’t an animal he’s been chasing, it was a god under a guise of a graceful deer.  Divine creature jumped to the sky and continued his run among stars. Even then, in rush and ardor, the hunter didn’t stop and reached the sky after his aim.
So Orion is still there, chasing a deer in his infinite run.

In the light of uncertain sunrise we passed the island Fogo. It’s far away, I can see only silhouette of it. I hope one day I will return here: to explore the national park and climb the volcano that gave its name to the island. Now we go to the open ocean.

After midday wind and waving have calmed down. Now it’s hot outside and so is inside the boat. And, finally, not too wet.

Before going to bed in the morning I took a pill from sea-sickness. One of its side affects is desire to sleep. And that was I counted for. And – hooray! – attempt to fall asleep was successful. On watch 2pm-6pm I feel gorgeous. On the place of exhausting desire to sleep comes appetite. To delicious lunch, performed by Crisa, I added cake, some fruits and nuts.

Later I will discover that pills don’t really work in my case. I had been already too exhausted on the second day to stay without sleep longer.  Pills didn’t make any significant difference and I gave up.
I just need to accept the fact that I’ll have little sleep on this crossing, despite opportunity to stay in bed for 12 hours (4/4/4). Just keep going. I don’t care anymore.

Day 3, 2nd of November 2011

No wind. Little wave swings the boat. We reach zone of downdrums – latitudes close to the equator and known for absence of wind. We hope that waves will calm down too. In previous time Chris crossed downdrums, he said, the ocean reminded a swimming pool.

In the ocean even far from a shore there’s life. Birds are hunting fish, virtuously maneauvring in gasps of wind above waves. Bunches, flowerbeds and even fields of brown seaplants drift silently with tide.I’m watching flyfishes, hovering above waters. Huge groups, hundred maybe. They rise in front of the boat, moved by fear of unknown “sea creature”. They fly against the wind too, using a wave as a trampling.

But ocean carries not only life but death too.
At night Chris found a dead calamari on a cockpit: wave ruthlessly threw him from an ocean depth. At day I noticed a big flyfish on our starboard. She was already dead. I waited for Crisa to wake up and throw the fish away – he’s more courageous in “dead fish question”.

At night the moon rises. Here it’s turned upside down. Unlike in Russia, it grows up from bottom to the top. Now it looks like a bowl of ananas juice.

The moon doesn’t stay longer. But when it sets down, stars come on stage. There’re many of them tonight! For 30 minutes, while listening for Portuguese course, I “picked up” shooting stars and made wishes between “Escucha e repete” practice. Facing the sky, backed  by “doghouse” (a tent that protects cockpit from wind), I swung on a bench, murmuring Portuguese words. My beautiful shift time.

… To be continued ))