Day 98

23rd January 2002

Surprisingly time is flying by, I’m almost frightened to mention it though in case it slows down again but at the moment I can scarcely keep track of the days. We haven’t been able to fish since we reached the north with exception of one trawl when we arrived. This highlights the ridiculous greed of the owner. You see, the weather forecast was bad, we had enough fuel to make it back to Portugal without re-fuelling but the owner wanted us to carry on fishing. It will cost him dearly because he has already had to pay for more fuel already and if the weather stays bad we’ll have to get more fuel in the Azores and incur the costs of harbour fees and pilots on top.

I am still buzzing over receiving my parcel; my bed was really cosy last night with my hot water bottle. The only problem was that it was very rough last night before I went to bed and I didn’t stow everything properly. All night there were rattles and bangs and a plastic bag or wrapping papers from my parcel slid around my cabin all night. I couldn’t reach it from my bed so waited for it to slide closer. It took ages to catch the bag and would have been much easier to just get out of bed and put everything away but I couldn’t muster the energy to do so. As a result I got little sleep…well proper sleep anyway.

*I think I’ll have a snack! A packet of Buttons, a giant nut caramel quality street and a packet of chip shop curry flavour snacks later and Ross is a happy boy.*

As you can imagine it is extremely difficult to get any exercise in such a confined space, you can’t walk run or swim. To try and get a bit of exercise I do push ups and sit ups and stuff like that (which is just as well with all this chocolate around). The trouble is that you can’t even do this in rough weather. I was doing some push ups a minute ago and nearly busted my nose when we suddenly hit a big wave and the floor came speeding to meet my face. It makes you feel much better though and I can’t wait to be able to go for long walks, go swimming and do some physical work. Maybe I’ll join the leisure centre for a month to get fit again. Talking about fitness I think I’ll go and have some tea and maybe wash down some more chocolate.

It is now much later…after dinner. It is blowing a hoolie outside and the sea is getting really bad. It’s a force 10-11 with hurricane force winds (70mph). The cause of this sudden deterioration of weather is obvious when you look at the barometer. The needle has been falling over the last 24 hours to a very low of 960mb and now all of a sudden is jumping up rapidly, suggesting a couple of hours of really bad weather and then rapid improvement. The first mate and captain are looking very anxious on the bridge as this has caught them by surprise. There is a dial on the bridge which measures how far the ship tilts (rolls) from side to side. The scale goes up to 40 degrees and we have been going over the scale. I reckon we must be rolling close to 45 degrees from vertical in the worst waves…… i.e. we are rockin’ and rollin’ like a cork in a bathtub…a very large and stormy bathtub and a very small cork.

This weather brings out a side of me that is baffling even to myself. I enjoy it pure and simple and don’t get scared. It’s not bravery or because I’m clever, I just get awestruck by things like this and it leaves no room for fear. It is probably stupidity rather than anything else. I’ve had the same sensation when I saw a shark while diving in the Red Sea or when a seal was playfully biting my fins…Nature is such an incredible thing that I think you can only waste the moment by fearing it. I like the feeling that sometimes the situation is bigger than yourself, and you can only hope you’ll come out of it okay. I remember looking down that seals throat as it sunk its canines into my fins and thinking to myself that I am honoured to be an item of curiosity when there is potential for it to have ripped my leg to shreds. For some reason I knew without any doubt that it would bring no harm, but maybe I’m just naïve.

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