6am on day 6.. im gradually losing my mind, but i am greeted by a cheerful looking sun.. and treated to a bit of a wind shift. Its now blowing 12 to 15 knots but from a ENE direction, so we pull out a large chunk of our genoa, the head sail right at the front of the boat, as well as the main and start heading as far into the wind as we can.
Because its a catamaran, we cannot get closer than 50 degrees though as we dont have a proper keel like a monohull does. Those can go as close as 30 degrees while remaining quite efficient.. so almost directly into the wind.. but not quite.
Im pleasantly surprised at the windward ability of our Lagoon 440 as id thought she would only manage 60 degrees.
So now we head North as long as this wind is blowing. Madagascar is 180nm to our starboard side (right) and for the moment we will run parallel to its coastline, so i wont be able to spot any land today… which is super frustrating, cause i can almost taste the lemurs from here!
Ive just been greeted by a flying fish. I love these cartoony things, but i havent seen nearly as many as i usually do. They also seem to be a bit smaller in the Indian ocean than they are in the South Atlantic for instance.
Before id left for my trip to Brazil i did some research on whether it was possible to eat them on the way as i knew we would encounter them… but my first actual encounter with one quickly put me off that notion. For life.
The boat we sailed to Brazil was a massive turquoisey greeny blue monohull. This chunky lady was as strong as a brick shithouse.. but made of steel, and she sat so solidly on the water, not heeling (leaning over) for even the stronger puffs of wind we encountered.
She looked so regal with her ketch rigging (2 masts) with all 3 sails flying high.
My cabin was in the aft (rear) portion of the boat. And i was resting inbetween watches (shifts) when my room started to reek to high heaven!
This was truly the most repugnant smell i have ever had the displeasure of using my olfactory senses on in my entire life. It smelled a bit like an old pier in my hometown of Durban. It was called South pier, and all (it definitely seemed like all of them) the indians, dots not feathers, would go down there to fish.
As a kid i was sometimes dragged down there to see what was biting. I remember the stench of the place, with fishguts and blood everywhere, all crusty and dried out by the sun, sardine heads and pieces of string lying everywhere, and of course the ‘catches’ of the day all lying out on the concrete catching a tan in the blazing sun, which was half boiling the fish eyeballs. The smell of that place used to turn my gills green everytime, but it was not quite as bad as the smell in my room on that bright turquoise boat.
I got up and started searching my room. Maybe the other guys were pranking me and had snuck a rotting fish into my room. Its the kind of thing id do to my mates, so it seemed like the logical solution, but there was no fish corpse to be found. I was stumped. I lay back down again to read… but my eyes were watering too much from the stench.. so i tried to sleep. The sandman gave my room a wide berth, probably because of the smell, so sleep never came that day, which landed up being one of the longest days of my life.
Eventually i went back onto shift, and after a bit of fresh sea air i could think clearly again, and the epiphany soon followed. There was a small air vent just above my bed that i had opened a few days before to try air out the room, which on a boat are always extremely stuffy.
I took a walk to where i suspected my air vent opened onto the outside of the boat, and there i found the cause of my considerable discomfort.
A flying fish had launched itself gracefully out of the water, probably to evade a hungry tuna, but its flight had been unceremoniously impeded by the passage of our giant blue green boat, which he would have smacked head first as fish dont have arms to stick out in front of em when they are gonna crash into stuff, and then he had flopped his way down the deck, and positioned himself directly outside my airvent, where his stench would best be able to torture me. Crafty fish. If he has to go down.. he is taking me with him!
I studied this marvel of nature for all of a second and a half, but i couldnt endure the pong, even out in the open air. I reached over to pick his putrid corpse up and return him to mister tuna, whom i had lost all respect for by now. How he could eat these things was beyond me. Not even Bear Gryllis would eat one of these things. And then mister chinese guy wants to charge me 3 arms and a leg for a small piece of mister tuna, which they serve uncooked.. with only a mouthful of rice and some rancid green mustard. No thanks mister chinese man… you can keep your diagusting fish eating fish.
But as i grabbed the aeronautical fish.. i got another surprise… one which would keep on giving.
A flying fish, unbeknownst to me, is covered in a layer of greasy slime. They are slicker than used car salesmen. And this slime seems to be the source of their malodour, because for 3 days after i threw that thing back into the ocean.. my hand honed like a flying fish, no matter how many times i tried to wash my paw off.
Needless to say, flying fish, even though they had initially seemed like a good substitute for manna from heaven, were struck off the menu.
Sveral more would launch themselves onto the boat during that trip.
My vent was closed for safety sake, and i didnt touch another one to throw overboard. I would watch and grin to myself as my sailing companions would jump up to cast another wayward fish back into the sea, and id say nothing about their slimeyness, or the fact that their hands would stink like mine was now. I cannot save everyone…. and also, why suffer alone.