The Manifesto

June 24, 2018

Day 178/6

Noon Position: 35 00N 158 20W
Course/Speed: NNE8 (must have a current with us)
Wind: SE14
Bar: 1030, dropping
Sea: NE/E8
Sky: Overcast, drizzle
Cabin Temperature: 72
Water Temperature: 67
Sail: All plain sail

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good: 159
Miles this leg: 818
Avg. Miles this leg: 136

Wind veered into the E and stiffened after sundown. We’d been pounding into a hard sea all day, a hold-on-with-five-hands, punch-you-in-the-gut kind of sea. I was worn down, so I put two reefs in the working sails and began sleeping right after dinner.

Around midnight, alarms started going off, first the VHF radio and then the chart plotter. Each device has its own loud speaker in the main cabin, where I sleep, and they are both purposefully obnoxious as hell. A person would have to be half dead to sleep through either. Both together are enough to make Beethoven’s ears bleed.

The reason for the alarms was a ship, the Manifesto, a tanker bound for Balboa, making a perpendicular course to our own and passing but a mile ahead. I could see his twin white lights at nine miles, and at 16 knots to our seven, his stern light within twenty minutes. Nothing exciting at all, and I was headed back to my bunk when the radio spoke.

It started with a blowing sound, “hoof, hoof.” Then, “Sailing vessel Moli, this is the Manifesto.” The voice came through clearly but quiet, as if respectful of the hour, and carried a gentle Spanish accent.

I responded quickly, by way of proof I hadn’t been sleeping.

“Yes, sir,” said the voice, “I just wanted to know if everything is alright on the Moli. Are you in need of any assistance?”

I thanked the officer of the watch for his concern and assured him the crew of the Moli were fine.

“Ok then,” said the voice. “Ok.”

And that was it.

Why the question? I almost rang up again to explore. But it is my experience that ships, solid and true of course, don’t know quite what to make of small sailboats that bob and weave on their scope as if drunk. That seems the likeliest reason for the call. I let it go at that and returned to sleep, thinking warmly of the politness of the officer and his professional concern for the less fortunate urchins of the sea.

2 Comments on “The Manifesto

  1. Randall. Your radio contact is very similar to what we encountered while sailing around the world. But, with no radar or AIS, still a few huge ships actually hove to and came close to our little sloop! Yelling at us to see if all was well aboard KANDARIK. Talk about a fantastic conversation in the middle of no where!! It made our little crew so excited each time that happened!! One huge ship, I will always remember the name, NORSE VARIANT out of Oslo, actually threw us a corked bottle with a note in it with our Lat and long and signed by the Master! The fun thing was that, very obviously, the bottle must have been freshly emptied of gin!! I still have that precious note in my log book from 1972!
    Aren’t we the lucky ones?

  2. Wow! Another nifty technological advancement for small boats! You can sleep through a watch and the electronics will wake you if there’s something in the area! That is so cool.

    Okay, so contribute to the stories. A friend of mine who sailed South from Hawaii the same time I did, was on a very small sailboat and encountered a ship mid-passage. They made radio contact and when they were asked if they needed anything, someone aboard replied that some ice cream would be nice. Well, guess what…. they launched a small boat and brought them three gallons of ice cream!!!

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