There is something completely serene about being the only person left on earth.
The sun has just gone down on the second night of our journey.. and i have just started my first ever 6 hour night shift.
The sky is darkened already although i can make out the masses of dirty grey steel wool that cover the sky from horizon to horizon.
A red moon is playing peek a boo behind one of these heavy clouds low on the horizon, making the entire cloud look like Moses’ burning bush. Its just slightly less than full moon.. so in an hour or two the sea will be highlighted with silver streaks.
The brooding black sea has calmed tremendously in the last few hours… there are hardly even any swells coming through.. and the breeze is a mild south westerly which is keeping our sails full and driving us ever on into the night.
To make the post apocalyptic scene complete… i am the only person alive. At least as far as the eye can see. I feel a bit like Will Smith in ‘i am legend’
Africa has disappeared off the horizon a full day ago already… and there is nary another ship or yacht in sight. The horizon is clear and devoid of all other light.
The only other crew member on the boat.. the skipper.. has gone to bed and is getting some well deserved rest before he takes over again at midnight.
The complete abscence of everyday noise is nearly alarming. There is no music, no TV noise… no photocopier, phone ringing.. or car hooters. No police sirens, and no gunshots. Just a constant clunking of the boom, which sounds a bit like a lepers bell, and the light flap as the fore sail moves in and out slowly, as if its breathing, along with the ever present creak of the rigging as it comes under strain and then releases as the boat rocks to and fro.
There is also the sound of the water streaming past the sleek hulls as the boat swans its way through the salty brine. But other than that.. its pretty peaceful.
To be the only person left alive is so surreal… but its something i could definitely get used to.
And then my reverie was interrupted just after 10pm. A light appeared on the horizon. It was almost directly ahead of us, but about 20 degrees to our port side (left hand side. Port is red. Think of wine)
I kept my eyes trained on the light as it grew quickly closer waiting to see if the angle at which he was approaching would change.. and it didnt. Which meant that we were on a collision course.
You would think that this sort of thing was highly unlikely out in the vast expanse of an ocean.. but it really isnt uncommon at all.
There are very firm rules regarding this sort of encounter.. rules which the captain of the other boat was not adhering to at this moment.
The boating colregs, (collision regulations) the waterborne equivalent of the rules of the road, state that power gives way to sail… and as we have a massive sail hoisted.. we are clearly one of those, whereas the cargo ship is under power… its great big diesel lump thrusting it through the dark water at a great clip.
Rules are rules… but when it comes to being run over by a huge ship carrying iphones or whatever, i will gladly make way rather than be a dead guy who was in the right.
When the boat drew even closer.. i steered the yacht 30 degrees to starboard. This would show the other boat that i was taking avoiding action.
All would have been good at that point.. only 2 minutes later he made a steering change too.. an incorrect steering change… bringing himself right across my path and back into a potential collision situation.
The rule for this particular encounter required him to turn to port… but he had done the complete opposite.
It just shows… its not only on the streets in busy cities where bad drivers can be found frustrating and confounding other road users… even in the middle of the ocean i had managed to find one. We passed each other pretty closely, but i guess ill never know whether he was able to see my middle finger saluting the hell outta him.
As it was.. i took my 30 degrees back.. and added another 20 for good measure. This took me safely across his wake and back out into the moon infused darkness.
This was to be the final encounter with other traffic for the rest of our 11 day trip out to the black plague infested island.
I was back to being the only person in the world.. and i was loving it!