The presence of birds signals land, or so says old wisdom. Well. if that is
the case, then half-way between Brazil and Gambia, Atlantis, or similar
uncharted land is floating about. Either that, or we’ve just been circled by
some very weird birds, the odd lone pioneer, on an epic ocean crossing in
the spirit of adventure. Over the last few days we’ve had several tropic
birds circle Elinca, much to Cliggy’s excitement. A couple of days ago a
boobie spent the night on our starboard spreaders, rocking precariously
before spreading its wings in the morning. Nearest land would be the Cape
Verde Islands, 500 nautical miles to the East…
Other flying wildlife has also caused excitement, namely Rachel’s first
spotting of a flying fish. The rarity here lies not with the fish – hundreds
speed away from the boat in flocks (or are they still schools?) every day,
three have landed on the boat, one famously making it into a bucket to be
photographed like a diva, blue iridescent scales, spread wings and all, and
one, infamously, flapping its way down the cabin hatch to land, still
flapping, in the sleeping skippers’ hand. James has been trying to get the
fish smell out of his bed sheet ever since. No, the rarity here lies in
Rachel spotting one, a single one, unannounced, a mission that has been
building for several weeks, with much pointing and shouting by helming
people, and invariable bitter disappointment within 20 or so seconds. With
her flying fish ticked, Rachel has moved on to see her first Portugese man
of war too – again, much pointing and shouting at the pink bubblegum bubbles
floating past the boat – quite the spotting mission at 7 knots. Again, there
have been plenty, and what a strange animal this is, topped by bubble, with
poisonous tentacles reaching metres below. Just as well they don’t fly.
We’ve decided that pilot wales are the dolphins of the Atlantic, with at
least a pod a week checking us out from a safe distance of several boat
lengths. Not a dolphin in sight since the Brazilian coast though.
The other weird one has been the carpets of sea weed that we were sailing
through up to a week ago. Brown floating bunches, with oak-like leaves and
small white berries. All over the Atlantic, up to 10 degrees North or so.
And the copious phosphorescence in our wake on moon-free night watches. Not
bad, for what’s deemed nutrient-poor territory. It must be something in the
On the boat, wildlife has been combatted with fly paper, and, in my case,
Brazilian purple fluorescent laundry liquid, which has, temporarily and
reassuringly, removed the scent of rampant biofilm growth from my towel. A
small, but significant step in environmental management.
Big hugs to everyone on land!!!