It’s 9.30 PM and I’m on watch. I had almost no sleep last night, no food
either, just some crackers and a cheesecake. The clouds patrol the sky.
Before every arrival of one of them, the wind picks up forcing me to
jump up to help the Autopilot to steer. The fluttering Genoa warns that
the course again is 300 degrees.
Feet wide apart, toes clinging to the deck, I fight the helm in the
giant swells to return the boat back on course.
The compass jumps between 180 and 300 degrees, while I throw glances at
the log. 6, 7, 8 knots the speed accelerate, whilst the Genoa is only
one third out. Well, I cannot bring it in further anyway.
It is pitch black, there are crashing sounds every where, the wind
moans. Every nerve in my body is tense; what’s that bang? Shouldn’t it
dawn soon now? In between the running sheets of dark clouds, I watch on
the Sonar schools of giant fish only feet beneath Santa Maria. The
instruments, my head torch and the moon are the only gleams of light in
Cascades of rain beat the canvas cover sheltering me - thank heavens for
that at least. Need to pee, but hesitate to use the bucket, both toilets
are broken again. I lost the first bucket when flushing it overboard;
the speeding ocean took both the rope and the handle. Now, we have only
one bucket left.
Enormous waves throw me around the boat, when hitting our side. I am
black and blue all over. A long, red scratch scars my right leg and I
have no idea when that happened. I am scared and would kill for a
cigarette. I am tense and wide-awake although I’ve not slept for almost
48 hours. 6 days. 20 to go. I glance back at the sky no more clouds,
I lose weight for every day. Oh, will I be in great shape for Everest
this year - if I get there at all, that is!
Tom calls at me from the aft cabin once in a while. Get back to sleep, I
think I´ll manage this I shout back.
He had a long watch last night and needs his sleep badly, but cannot
rest because of all the slamming at the boat.
The storm has now lasted for 6 hours. Last, it roared for 2 days. This
is some strange weather. Reports of 45 knots over Ireland might explain
some of it. May she keep in one piece in all this this. May we get our
share of calm seas, stars and dolphins. Cause until now, it has been a
veritable terror for most the time. We could, of course, take shelter at
nearest point of land. Let’s see; that should be West Sahara or
Mauritania at this point.
January 8, somewhere in the middle of the
Ocean, only ocean all around. I’ve grown accustomed to the waves.
Instead, I have a strange feeling of life suddenly, somehow…halting! It
is quite mind blowing - us sitting here, sheltered by just a small
plastic boat against this vast sea. No visible trace of yesterday and no
signs of tomorrow, just right here right now.
The sun is sparkling, the waves provide playful joyrides. Sometimes, I
tie myself into the Genoa stay at the very front of Santa Maria and ride
the waves into the speeding wind, with Techno blasting in my Walkman. At
meals, the cheese constantly leaves the sandwiches and the food escapes
the serving spoon before reaching the plate. Sometimes, Dolphins visit
in hundreds, and play with us for hours to a Beach Boys tape at the
At night, the Milky Way appears above us as a bright band of sparkling
stars. Competing in beauty only with the fluorescent green patch of
luminous plankton, glittering in the waters around Santa Maria´s hull.
Mother Nature sure has her moods. Just as at Everest, she can be gentle,
soft, even caring. You feel safe and everything is beautiful. Then,
without a warning she angers, the wind picks up and suddenly life itself
is at stake. And you can do nothing about it except take shelter and
pray for survival.
So, what is one to do? Stay at home? There pretty soon become scared of
ones own navel? Rather real fears, than the imaginary. We have 6 days
left. Incredible! Patience is getting scarce now. Want to get there now.
But thanks heaven that we carried this through. We’ve hardly slept, been
scared mad and starved at times. But we would not have missed out on
this for one moment - what a wonderful, new dimension to our lives!
the morning of January 15 we spotted a faint, gray shadow at the
horizon. We read the last chapter of Columbus logbook, brought with us.
Hours later, Santa Maria proudly entered the harbor of Saint Lucia.