Conrad Colman: Speed is Our Friend
Position 55 Degrees 04 South 081 Degrees41 West
Countdown: less than 400 miles to Cape Horn
Well, today is certainly impressive… Raw… Beautiful… Furious. It is hard to find a word to sum up our circumstances at the moment. We are brushing the top of probably our last real Southern Ocean depression and for the past 18 hours have had wind of 40 knots, gusting 45 to 50. The swells, big for weeks now have grown into mountainous seas. Easily 8 to 10 meters in height with lofty cornices blown higher by the storm force gusts, they tower over us and curl to break noisily in a thundering crash.
Here, speed is our friend because as the waves pull up the stern we slide away from the breakers like a lithe dancer, but a dancer fighting for its life. Spirit is tired and creaks and groans and burys its bow in the trough between the waves. After all the sail patches stuck, stitches sewn, blood spilled, sweat dripped and sleep missed while we have been down in the cold southern latitudes it will be a relief to turn the corner and make it back into the relative safety of the Atlantic. Instead of endless seas and gliding birds we will again be surrounded by tankers and cargo ships, flying fish and ports of call.
Despite all of that, I will be sad to leave these frigid unfriendly waters. Its empowering to pass point Nemo and shout out to the world, knowing that there no one and nothing to echo back. In our era it is truly rare to be totally self reliant and responsible for whatever circumstance that may arise. There’s that side and also the beauty of Nature in the raw. We do everything we can to pluck out the weeds, pave over the dirt and cordon off the currents so it’s satisfying just to watch the wind blow over an ocean that is free to surge freely for tens of thousands of unimpeded miles, only watched over by the lonely albatross.
Then, there are the cold wet socks and the fact I haven’t showered for weeks. Lets get out of here! But, I’ll be back…..