Something a little different – a new voice. It is the first section of a letter home from Val, posted in the Galapagos, and so covering a period already written about in the diary. But with a different perspective, and style. We wrote home pretty much every week to our respective mothers, though obviously this was disrupted by being in the middle of the ocean.
“May 24th, 1982.
Dear mum and Mar,
Here we are on Chris’s birthday, somewhere in the Pacific Ocean (we don’t know exactly where, because we haven’t had any sun for 4 days now and so haven’t been able to take any sextant readings) and we’ve been away from home for a year now. I can’t really work out whether the time has gone slowly or quickly – I think there have been periods of both.
It really looks as if we’re going to make it to some of the Pacific I*slands now – we’re about half way to the Galapagos Islands, so there is little point in turnong back if we have any problems as we’re closer to our destination than to Panama. (Panam, by the way, is one of the places I’m not very interested in seeing again.)
W e have now been at sea for about 4 days and it takes that long to get your sea legs. At first Alma (the woman’s name on the boat) and I were a little sea-sick, but we have overcome that. However, small everyday things, such as preparing simple meals, eating, going to the bathroom and even walking require huge efforts – mainly in patience. But once you stop cursing every time you fall over, or a pan slides across the cooker, you begin to feel a little easier. This morning I ventured to make Chris a birthday cake – what a laugh! The cake mixture slopped over into the back of the oven and what was left in the tins was a most peculiar shape. We couldn’t get it out of the pans whole so we left one half in and pasted the other half to it with icing. Alma managed to find some candles so now it doesn’t look too bad. Chris has already had his birthday present (a Sony Walkman II which is a mini tape recorder which you can carry around with you and listen to it through headphones) but I’ve got him a T-shirt, as all of his clothes are worn out, and a pocket backgammon set as a surprise.
We are both fairly tired as we haven’t got used to the night watches yet; we are very lucky because the boat has a self-steering device so that you don’t have to sit at the wheel all of the time. However, that means that at night all you have to do is look out for ships to make sure they don’t run you over, so there isn’t very much to keep you awake. We’ve found that the best way is to listen to the tape-recorder. We haven’t seen a ship now for two days and the further out we get the less likely we are to see any.
We are lucky that the couple we are with like to read. as they have a large library of books on board – we certainly will need it as the days at sea are very long. We are rather disappointed that we haven’t caught any fish yet; you almost rely on it for fresh food when sailing in the Pacific. Tomorrow we try some different bait and maybe we’ll have better luck. We think that the fish may not be around because we’ve been having bad weather since we left Panama. We can’t believe that we can be so near the equator and not see sun for 4 days. With all the rain and sea-spray we have discovered leaks we never thought existed and so we have been trying to dry all the carpets out where the floor got wet. We don’t dare wash any clothes as we already have enough wet stuff.
This letter doesn’t sound too bright, but in fact we are enjoying ourselves, although I reserve full judgment until I’ve experienced a little more sea life. And I think our motto at the moment seems to be, “It’s not the going but the the getting there!”
So, nothing particularly new, but a different viewpoint. Rather more cheerful, in some ways, but remember this was after only four days. Funny to see the need to explain a Sony Walkman, which has already passed into obsolescence. But it did prove a life-saver. And pleasant to read of Val and Alma working so closely together.