Jay's Writing Disclaimer:
I must warn you head of time, that when you read my entries, any misspelling, grammatical errors, “ bad english,” or otherwise misuse of the English language would be my fault. I am not but a humble sailor you see, luckily for you and me I have a wife who is my editor and if she can some how make order of my ‘alphabet soup’ and package it in such a way that it appears legible and palatable, then you may understand what I am trying to say. Oddly as it may seam I am the native English speaker and my wife Natasha is not. I will be mainly writing about sailing from the sailor’s I meet to the boats I sail. Sailing happens to be a very peculiar thing were in theory it’s lovely but in practice it’s not. It has been said before that sailing is more to the liking of taking a cold shower while tearing up money. Which seems to offer up some good stories that I will try to put into writing and when I fail, skip to the next entry where Natasha will pick up the slack with eloquence and interesting topics.
3 Occurrences that haven't happened in a very long time:
- Sailing on the north coast of Iceland when we reached the most northern point of our journey, around 67° north, once we passed the last cape we turned south. As I set the new course I looked down at the compass and found myself peering upon an unfamiliar site, one that I was not accustom too. There was a new set of numbers and letters that have been blocked from my view for a very long time. I realized at that point that this is the first time in five years that I have seen the southern hemisphere of the compass. Ever since reaching Panama at latitude 6° the compass and our thoughts both pointed North. From 0° to 90° was the extent of variation in our course, and now that has changed to 120° to 180°, sometimes even 200° has been the norm. I really did get the feeling of repelling down the side of the globe as we descended to new destinations.
- I also saw stars and constellations that are slowly working their way back to a more familiar position in the night sky. When we first started our journey to the north with all the preparations for Messenger, certain details slipped by me, details that I never would have thought of surprised me. When I found myself looking up into the sky in Iceland I was dumbfounded since the constellations seamed out of place from the way I was accustom to seen them. Growing up and sailing at “normal latitude” the big dipper always rises in the east and sets in the west keeping the side of the cup part pointed towards the north star. Well, on top of the world the north star is directly overhead making the big dipper spin around in circles all night. It might be hard for some to grasp the impact that this change had on me but I have spent so many days watching the night sky dance the same dance that I could literally set my watch by it and always know my heading, to then suddenly witness the night sky be so foreign to me was an interesting experience. Now as we move south and the days get shorter and the skies clearer I am recognizing some old friends up there.
- Exactly 100 nm from the Shetland Islands and 100 nm from Norway lies the North sea oil fields. Our course was set to take us directly through the middle of them. Around midnight the glow of a ‘distant city’ starts to fill the night and I see that we are fast approaching the oils fields. When I planned the route to Bergen, Norway I knew that we would see some oil rigs but did’t take the time to count how many there were. It surprised me indeed when the night horizon just kept filling up with more are more lights as we sailed closer. The conditions were spirited but benign with 25 knot wind, raining and a lot of clouds changing the wind around. We were sailing downwind with a bit of surfing, average boat speed was 8.5 knots but regularly hitting 12 knots which might not seam like a lot for regular car drivers but on Messenger in the North Sea at night you really get the feeling that there are no brakes. It’s strange sailingthrough an oil field with supply boats, oil tankers and rigs with lights of all kinds and colors as you try to figure out what is moving and what is not. There is a certain uneasiness that one gets seeing something so large and manmade in such a natural place. The feeling comes with a smell that instantly transported me back to sailing though oil rigs off the California coast, the unique smell of the sea, mixed with fuels and oils plus the distinct smell of seagulls all reminded me of the Pacific coast. But this oil field is immense, I don’t know the exact number but I counted over 30 oils rigs each towering above the sea which would dwarf most football stadiums. I can’t help but think about the engineers who were confronted with the job of designing a structure that must withstand several hurricane strength storms every year with waves that can equal 20 meters. It is the North Sea after all in the roaring 60s. On this passage I realized a dream I have, which is to spend one storm, say in January perched high on one of these rigs, that would be a sight to behold. So if any oil rig guys might happen to read this who can pull some strings, I volunteer myself for the experience and I am available upon short notice and can cook a decent meal.