Our departure time was put off until 2 – first, because J + A wanted to see if their friend Jan was returning on the morning launch, + then because Jack wanted to pass Cape Malo in daylight tomorrow, so that he could calibrate his walking log. In the meantime, I completed a couple of jobs Jack had asked me to do – file off the rubber post cap so that it would sit properly, + hang a picture. The first job I completed to my satisfaction, the second less so (the picture hung crooked). However, those little chores completed, + lunch finished, we winched up the anchor, started the motor, + set off. And you can believe me, it certainly felt good to be on our way again – we have had more than our fill of Panama, especially since we were only going to stay for 3 or 4 days. One huge advantage of the Alma over the Crusader is that it has an automatic pilot, relieving one from the tyranny of the helm. They only keep a formal watch at night – during the day, just anyone who is up on deck keeps an eye out for ships etc.
A leisurely afternoon – I finished reading “Beggarman, Thief”, the sequel to “Rich man, poor man” – of course, + tho’ I sort of enjoyed it, it wasn’t anything like as good as its predecessor. Far more melodramatic + unreal. I’ve now moved back to “Kon-Tiki”, which I’d started but not completed, + val, having finished Catch 22, joined me in a nautical oeuvre, a book of short stories called Sea Quest. A good meal of onion soup, followed by mango pie, + then at 8 the watch began, 3 hrs apiece. Val had 8 till 11, Alma 11 till 2, me 2 till 5, + then Jack. I slept till my watch, + even so did not find it easy to stay awake. There is a good system they have worked out, using as kitchen timer to mark off every 30 mins, when one should check gauges etc. The rest of the time, you just watch out for ships – or rather lights. I was delighted when 5 o’clock came, + I could crawl back into bed for a couple of hours.
Ande so, a life on the ocean wave – at last! – and relatively calm and emotion-free on board. It is fortunate that they have a substantial library on board, as it is clear I at least will be getting through them very quickly. And the autopilot really does make a huge difference – the thought of manning a tiller 24/7 is a daunting thought… but that was what we had been due to manage.