Dawn of the 12th. Wake up. Brush teeth. Fill water. Get joined by twenty flipper dolphins in the soft morning light. Wait, what? Just when I thought this amazing experience was drawing to a close, something like that happens - I even found myself welling up a bit. It's times like these, it's like my inner monologue chimes in and says, "Hey kid, don't you ever forget this."
So we're almost there, 250 miles to go. Doesn't seem like much at all now. We've slowed to a steady average of 4kts with the breeze broad reaching from the SSE in droves of 10-15kts. However my opinion of the Arafura Sea remains pretty low, it was a bit of a stress sailing in the choppy confusion that was the first week or so past Cape York. I mean, c'mon, we make it basically 3000 miles without a knockdown and then in the space of a few days we get near enough three. The knockdowns themselves? Not so bad at all. I'm pretty confident in my own helming ability and when the seas got a bit tougher I made sure I stayed vigilant. I was telling myself if we're going to get knocked down and capsized, make sure you can look the others in the eye and say, "I did my best. There was nothing more I could do."
I had spotted the wave just before Don, swung the tiller hard over in preparation, but the wave carried so much force I just didn't have the strength to hold it. The best example of our teamwork has been during these tense moments. There's no blame-throwing or snide comments, everyone just knuckles down and strives to keep our little boat afloat. It goes to show how confident we are in our safety gear and in Bounty Boat, that our prime concern when water is rushing in is our gear and not our own lives. I was glad to see my diary survived the turmoil, but it was a damn shame we lost another camera.
Now I've never grown my facial hair this long, so I was hoping I'd have a handsome beard by the time we hopped off in Kupang. A Tom Selleck mustache would have been great. Maybe some cool Hugh Jackman sideburns. But no, each day that passes I look more and more like Abraham Lincoln...
Some of the sights I've seen, I almost cannot fully process them, such is the magnitude of their awesomeness. Burning red sunsets, gleaming blankets of stars, sand as white and soft as snow that gleams in the heat. Perhaps if I'd seen those things in a different context they may not have had the same profound impact, but when you're out cruising in the deep blue, it just firmly seeds itself in your memory. On top of all that I can now stick 'Finding Nemo' in the DVD player and say that I've met near enough the entire cast first hand, good times.
Dave and I were arguing again midweek, I went off at him pretty viciously but not without cause. I understand this voyage has been especially tough on him and he tries hard, in fact he's one of the most trying people I've ever met. He just manages to get on my nerves with ease. In this close environment he does have a few habits and mannerisms that can be pretty detestable. It has gotten to the point where it's like...it's like he makes me want to rip off my own arm, just so I could have something to throw at him. But the kicker is he's so damn charming and polite the rest of the time, it is impossible to stay angry against him. His overwhelming generosity and pleasant company along the way I'm happy to say far outweigh our petty clashes.
I had another look at Bligh's notebook account yesterday and jeez, we've had an easy ride. I'm especially happy that I've managed to get through everything we've faced with relative ease. And that isn't casual arrogance, I honestly thought it would be more like 'The Perfect Storm' all the way, so i'd geared myself up for a serious struggle for survival. Now looking back it has been more of a spectacular cruise. When Don told me at the start, "Chris, by the end of this you'll be a completely different person". I was totally skeptical and yet now I wholeheartedly agree with him.
I'll save all the soppy gratitude's and acknowledgments for my final blog, I've been sat here for too long already writing out this erratic bunch of paragraphs.
Catch you later,
Chris - The Cabin Boy.