Last night I went to bed exhausted, but far from having a nice relaxing sleep it ended up being quite a busy night. My steering footplate (which is sort of on a swivel, so I can steer the boat with my foot as it is attached to the rudder by lines) kept banging into the other footplate, and nothing I tried seemed able to stop it. Usually I can get the tension in the lines just about right to hold it, but not last night. After numerous readjustments, attempts to go to sleep, further readjustments etc, I finally dropped off to sleep despite the noise.
Shortly after I fell asleep I was woken by the high-pitched alarm of the AIS, which alerts me to ships in the area. There was a cargo ship headed towards me, directly on a collision path (‘accuracy: high’, as the system comfortingly puts it). As usual, I contacted it on the VHF, but this time couldn’t get any reply. Through the darkness I began to feel and then hear the rumble of engines. After about 20 stressful minutes of trying to raise a response, I finally got someone to reply, just about as their lights started to come into view through the darkness. They passed me really quite close – I could see the lights on different decks of the ship, and I was really struck by how loud the engines were.
I lay down again, and just as I was starting to relax I felt and heard Something bang into the side of the boat. I think it was the same Something as the night before, and again it hung around for a bit, banged into the side of the boat a few times, and sort of brushed along the side as well. I lay very still in my sleeping bag, ready to leap up if necessary, but really hoping it would just go away. It did, but it took me a while to get to sleep again after that.
One of the things I’m looking forward to back in ‘normal’ life is being able to properly relax when sleeping. Here I’ve always got half an ear open, and am often woken by messages coming through on the VHF, particularly big waves or things slamming the boat, and all the knocks, taps and gurgles which sound so loud from inside the cabin.
Today has been similar to yesterday – hot, sunny and calm. It’s been slow going, but I’ve made some good western progress and been in good spirits. The wind has picked up this evening though, so I’m trying to withstand the eastward pull overnight…