Day 6

8 September, 2003

What a difference a night makes! A completely placid sea, like sailing over butter. The captain says there are force eight winds going on a hundred miles north in Greece. We have a pair of these stowaway birds, and they cavort about the ship. One can only wonder what lies ahead for them if they get off the ship in Suez! We have picked up a good deal more sand overnight, but now the sky is cloudless, the vast circle of the earth our only companion. We are, maybe, halfway past the isle of Crete, or the Libya/Egyptian border on the other side. Much to my great chagrin, we are scheduled to start our passage through the Suez, with a convoy at midnight of day 7/8. But we should reach the way station of “Bitter Lake” around 0700, and then continue on, getting to the red sea at around 1600. I will still have time to see plenty.

Lunch, a damn poor rendition of sweet & sour pork, but the corned beef and asparagus soup was alright (who would a thunk). The mechanic allows, as the sea temperature is so warm the engine room is getting uncomfortably hot. He also let slip that the monthly boat drill would be tomorrow which I look forward to. We anchor at Port Said for twelve hours waiting for our convoy. During this time, I like to imagine we will be alarmed to muster stations, get into our boats, get strapped in and then free fall, in the boat about thirty feet. Start the engine (my pal Ernesto the 3rd Officer is in charge of my boat) and putt about for a bit before pulling it all back together.

As it is so nice, I pack all sorts of stuff in my backpack, and go up the foc’sle. Flying fish are the game of the day, as I watch them take alarm at our advance, swimming everywhich way before going “oh damn” and launching in a highly skittery flight, like dragonflies with a purpose. If you are constantly moving, even at twenty seven miles an hour, things change even faster. We have picked up a few foot swell from the NNE. The wind has also picked up again. After a couple of hours I return to my cabin. I suppose future ships will all have farings (new ships being built tend to have farings) to increase efficiency, right now the engine has to push this big flat wall through the wind. This will mean the loss of the forecastle. It is strange the absolute wonder I have, flying, like DiCaprio and Winslet in Titanic, on the very point of the bow. Although it may be thirty feet down, I feel I can reach out and touch the water, and have no fear at bending over and looking back down along the bowline. The bulbous bow, like a massive penis perhaps five feet under, as big as a truck but completely visible in this magical water. It is a bit scarred from taking the hits, but it firmly, gently and relentlessly parts the water.

It strikes me , this is really the first time I have ever been so cloistered with only men. They do not speak about women, or home to me. Except the captain. It doesn’t feel at all like a homosexual kind of atmosphere, but I have not always been very good at telling that. Oh well, I do think that Singapore may be really looked forward to, although on the news tonight I hear another case of SARS has appeared there.

Another day at sea, a beautiful deep azure, the original home of Neptune. Sailing over the wrecks of Roman trimarans. The souls of millions have been intertwined with this water. At dinner, we admire Reebo’s new haircut (our steward). The captain jokes he looks like Harry Belafonte who has always maintained a large fan base in Germany. I start singing Dayyyy-yo. And low and behold, the captain remembers the great Stan Freberg version. Either he is cooler then my initial impressions, or else we are too dangerously close to being the old farts on board (well, we are)! Dinner’s stewed chicken was nothing to write home about....

Took a double turn around the deck tonight, I have sorted out the gym machine. An almost full moon casting its spray of golden fish across the ocean, with a cherry sized Mars sailing nearby. At night there are no lights on the outside of this huge ship except for the required navigational ones. This means for myself, the only regular user of the outside catwalks and stairs, that it is a bit perilous. But with the almost full moon, it is easy to find my way. On the bridge, only the lights of the indicators are on. They stand in darkness looking out, tomorrow Suez!