April 8, 2019
Noon Position: 30 35S 23 41W
Course(t)/Speed(kts): ENE 7
Wind(t/tws): NNW 16+
Sea(t/ft): NW 5
Sky: Alt cum and strat
10ths Cloud Cover: 9
Bar(mb): 1017, steady
Cabin Temp(f): 77
Water Temp(f): 73
Relative Humidity(%): 87
Sail: Working, sail, close hauled, port
Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 150
Miles since departure: 25,405
Avg. Miles/Day: 137
Leg North Days: 19
Leg North Miles: 2,455
Avg. Miles/Day: 129
A fast night. Somehow I found Monte’s sweet spot, and with two reefs in everything, I didn’t have to touch sail or tiller line all night. And our course, 30 degrees on the button. Excellent. Rough, but excellent.
Today has also been fast. We’re averaging 7 knots at moment, but the wind is beginning to ease. I think morning will initiate the next chapter of this northing saga: Getting Through the South Atlantic High. At moment there are nearly 600 miles of light to no wind between us and the Trades. It’s a broad swath, this calm. No going around it. Time to break out the oars.
Just after writing last night’s litany of complaints, the VHF radio sounded.
“Mohla, Uloos.” it said. The signal was strong; the vessel, close.
I dashed on deck to check the horizon for lights, a fishing boat without AIS hailing its partner, perhaps? The only ship on the scope was a bulk carrier named BK ALICE; she had passed unseen half an hour ago, was now well to the SE.
Nothing on the horizon.
The radio again. Same call. Very strong.
“Mohla” and “Moli” are not such similar sounds but similar enough to warrant an exploration. I grabbed the mic and said, “Uloos, sailing vessel Moli.”
“This is Uloos,” said the radio.
“This is Moli, did you call for Moli?”
“Yes, Moli. Yes, yes, I called.”
“Good evening,” I said, and then, not knowing how to proceed, “How may I help you?”
“Yes, hello,” said the voice. “I just want you to know that I think it is very brave, going to sea in such a little vessel. It requires very much courage.”
The voice, from a man I judged to be in his thirties, spoke softly and with precision. The accent, I thought, might be Indian.
“Thank you,” I said. “What vessel are you calling from?”
“Uloos, the ship, we have just passed.”
“Oh, are you the BK ALICE?” I asked.
“Yes, yes, that is me. Alice. Yes. Alice. I just want to ask one question. How do you do for food? And for fuel? I mean, on such a small boat, how is there room?”
I explained that for a singlehander, my boat was not very small, that I could easily carry a year’s supplies. That being a sailboat, I mostly sailed and so did not use much fuel.
“And where are you bound?”
“To St John’s, Newfoundland; then the Arctic and home.” I briefly described the Figure 8, the southern ocean rounding, the Northwest Passage, 180 days at sea, etc.
“Ah, that is very good. A very beautiful voyage. I have very much respect for your voyage. Thank you for your time, and I hope you have a good evening…”
“WAIT, wait,” I said. So typical, these ship guys…one question and they ring off. “And where are you bound?” I asked.
“I am bound for Kandla, India, arrive 5th May.”
“And what is your position?”
The man began to run through his coordinates, “Thirty two degrees, zero three decimal five minutes south…”
“No,” I interrupted, “I mean your position on the ship, your job.”
“Oh, I am the first officer. My name is Biko. I am from Indonesia.”
We signed off soon after as my transmissions had been deteriorating during the brief call. Mo’s masthead VHF antenna quit months ago, and I’ve been using the spare mounted on the radar arch; thus, my rage is poor.
But, though brief, and for reasons not entirely clear to me, the call was a real pick-me-up. Sure, it is pleasant to be appreciated, but it was more that–something to do with receiving respect from a professional mariner, a man who makes his living out here.