Conrad's message in a bottle
Nandor Fa and Conrad Colman report from onboard Spirit of Hungary of flying fish and faraway friends
April 7th, 05 20 UT, position: 14° 03' N, 033° 01,5' W
Water temperature: 21°C
I heard an impact, then heavy thrashing… I go outside, and there it is under the rope bag. I take its wing and throw it back to the water. There is another one next to it, not making any movements any more. I throw the latter one back too. By the time I get back into the cabin, I hear the sound of an impact, little silence, then thrashing. I go out, it landed on the side of the cabin, in quite a bad shape but still alive, it goes back in. Here we have some of those too, which landed earlier but I didn’t realise in time. I flick them to the water too. Every three or five minutes a flying fish arrives, which has misjudged the runway – most of them pay with their lives. They are not too big, around 15 cm, but I wouldn’t eat them even if they were bigger. They are frigging smelly! The fish smell would not come out of the pot if I cooked them. Earlier I gave it a shot, but I regretted it afterwards.
The seaweed-matter is unchanged. We are already at the 12th latitude, and we’ve been having seaweed since 2° South. That's 850 miles, roughly 1500km, how much seaweed is this? I wouldn’t want to be a fisherman here, they must be catching way more seaweed than fish, that’s for sure. Of course, I guess they are using recessed nets, but still not easy.
Our curt little summer is over, we need to wear clothes during the day too, and in the night we have to seriously dress up. Though the water is still 21°C, the air is only warm while the sun is up. My hope, that the seaweed would disappear with the drop in water temperature, is dead. The weed's shape and appearance has changed, they are much bigger and float randomly solo, not forming islands, probably because of the wind and waves. But they are still good at sticking on the boat! A little less, but we still have to stop the boat from time to time to get rid of them.
Our wind is around 15-17 knots, and we progress well at between 9-10 knots towards the North.
Position 13 Degrees 42 North 033 Degrees 01 West
Latitude of the Cape Verdes!
Shortly after I dropped my last letter off in the South Atlantic post box, I received an excellent message from a stranger called Francis who said that he would be keeping his eyes peeled for my bottle on his local beach. As he lives in a small town on the north coast of the Dominican Republic without street names or postal service, message by bottle might seem to be a good way to get in touch. However, as I dropped off the message in the southern hemisphere in a current stream that continues southwards before bending anti-clockwise around to the African coast I don’t like his chances of getting my message.
However, I enjoyed Francis’ message and I had another bottle in hand so I decided to help his chances by sending him a letter directly. This new message, dropped at 12 Degrees 18 North 032 Degrees 51 West will likely be carried westwards and then north in the famous Gulfstream current that pumps heat from the equatorial regions past the East Coast of the USA before heating the European continent. Along the edges of this current are continual whirls and back eddies and I can only hope that my new message will escape the current and make it into the Caribbean Sea and onwards to the Dominican Republic. In any case, now Francis has a good reason to hope that he might find my second message when he is out walking his dog on the beach. Fingers crossed for you mate.
We are still under nocturnal attack by flying fish and trimming the sails has become a hazardous affair. I think they home in on my head lamp because I reguarly catch sight of the silvery blue missiles flashing past me whenever I dare check the twist on the jib. If they are attracted to the light then they’ll all be exhausted as the full moon is stunning. In such a long race we have now seen several lunar cycles but despite the familiarity it is impossible to remain insensitive to the beauty of sailing over a silver sea under a full moon. Beautiful nights like these are the memories that I will treasure when all the hard labours, stresses and anxieties have faded away, months after our eventual (!) arrival in Barcelona.