After watching the sunrise on the 04:00 to 08:00 watch we are nicely cruising at 8 knots towards Uruguay. Its hard to believe that we will be in port in less than 48 hrs and my two months on Elinca will soon be over. After thinking and talking about my trip for the past three years or so I will be very sad to be speaking about it in the past tense. I feel extremely privileged to have taken part in such an adventure and will forever be grateful to James, Clare, Jon and Cliggy and to Suzi at home who keep it all running smoothly. The hours and hours of planning and organisation that they have put into this trip are countless.
I have really enjoyed life onboard Elinca. I was apprehensive at first at spending two months with 13 other people in such a confined space and in such cold and rough conditions but I have been pleasantly surprised. The gentle, yet authoritive, confident, way in which james and Clare command the boat is inspiring. No need for shouting or flapping. Elinca herself has been very sturdy and like I have trusted James and Clare’s abilities, (and that of our watchleaders Cliggy, Jon, Nick and Kirsty and my fellow shipmates), I have felt confident in Elinca too. Jon has an amazing ability to keep smiling after spending hours with his head stuck in the bilges or fixing the heads and Cliggy has kept us well informed of all the wildlife we have been so lucky to see.
Yesterday started for us (i.e. Nick’s watch of Nick, Lynda, Bill and I) on the 08:00 to 12:00 watch. The sun was shining which encouraged us to make Elinca’s decks similarly sparkly. As everyone sat on deck in shorts and tshirts enjoying the sunshine it was hard to believe we had left Grtvken a week ago with a snow covered deck, dodging bergy bits, in several layers of clothing and snow goggles. The increase in temperature has been welcome all round. It wasn’t quite warm by Wednesday but it was definitely tepid by Thursday and my plan to shed a layer a day for the week worked nicely. Don’t worry I haven’t been walking around naked since Friday, I had actually being wearing eight layers on top (I was nice and cosy at all times). With the warmer weather and calmer seas and everyone settling into a watch routine again it has been great to rediscover other parts of the boat and to see people from other watches instead of, well in my case anyhow, either being on deck on watch or being in my bunk keeping my dinner down! It also means it doesn’t take a full 20 minutes to get dressed for watch. However, as nice as the warm weather is part of me is glad not to be crossing the tropics as I think I may melt there altogether as I am probably better suited to cooler climes.
The sunny weather and calm seas yesterday gave some of us the chance to learn a bit about celestial navigation using James’ sextant. Richard very patiently talked Rachel, Nick and I through part of the process. We’re still not quite sure where we are as our poor little heads are hurting from having to do some simple maths without a calculator or excel as the whole point of it is being able to navigate with no instruments or power. It makes us appreciate what our forefathers did before GPS and marvel at how Worsley managed to guide the James Caird from Elephant Island to South Georgia in a small boat with heaving seas and rare sun sightings.
All going well this time next week, after buckets loads of tears no doubt, I’ll be back on Irish soil and the memories of the places I have been, sights I have seen and the people I have met over the past two months will stay with me for a very long time.