Sunday, December 30, 2012

I survived Christmas at sea

Position: 04°54'N, 97°58'W

Christmas at sea was always going to be emotional. For weeks we had been
thinking of family and friends coming together to celebrate the day in
Ireland and New Zealand, pining for all the food and drink and craic
that we would miss out on. Christmas Day loomed like a big obstacle that
we felt we just had to get through and then we could mentally get back
to our adventure. However to our surprise, Christmas Day on board turned
out to be quite a pleasant experience.

To start with we checked our daily distance progress and found a weekly
peak of 89 miles distance covered towards Panama over the previous 24
hours. After a few days of mediocre progress and reduced speed due to
our new rig and sail settings, it appeared that Santa had indeed
received our letter. And that was only the start of his delivery...

Mid-morning the sun came out and the clouds disappeared to treat us to a
spectacular day. We picked up an east-setting current and found some
healthy 15 knot southerly winds. We cracked open a bottle of New Zealand
Sauvignon Blanc and relaxed in the warm sunshine, munching on snacks and
goodies, and leaving the sailing to Ashling who was in her sweet spot,
sailing at five knots due east.

While there was just the three of us out here for Christmas, we
certainly didn't feel lonely. After phone calls to our families in
Ireland on the satellite phone, we exchanged some unique Christmas
presents that had been purchased in the limited stores of our last port,
including a bar of soap, a Sudoku puzzle book and a Cadbury's Crunchie.
We also opened gifts from friends in New Zealand, finding ready-made rum
and cokes from Kirsten, and some Grow your own Animals (of the plastic
variety) from Derek & Fiona. Needless to say, the rum and cokes
vaporised within minutes but the animals will keep us occupied and
entertained until we reach land. Thank you!

Even at sea Christmas revolves around an oven and later in the
afternoon, the First Mate got busy baking chocolate muffins and
biscuits, followed by the much anticipated tinned Chicken & Mushroom
pie. We ate Christmas dinner watching a glorious sunset behind us, and
turned around to find a full moon rising in a cloudless sky ahead. It
had been an unexpected but much welcomed day off and all things
considered, we couldn't have wished for a better day.

Christmas involves a lot of looking back – recounting the story of the
nativity, digging out old decorations, reminiscing on happy Christmases
gone by, remembering when it was all about Santa. However New Year's is
all about looking forward – thinking of the new year, making fresh
starts, wondering what the next 12 months has in store. After the
emotional rollercoaster that we travelled over the past week as we
missed friends and family more than ever, we're happy to put this
Christmas behind us and look forward to what 2013 has to bring.

Since Tuesday, we have gone from strength to strength with daily
distances covered, reaching a record 127 miles on Friday-Saturday. Every
midday status check has produced beaming smiles as our prayers are
answered and the little boat icon on our chart plotter inches its way
another degree closer to land. In southerly and sometimes south-westerly
winds, Ashling is powering along, eating up the miles under minimal
strain. We have also picked up a super current, which is like stepping
onto a magic carpet current that boosts our speed by 2-2.5 knots an
hour. Now THIS is sailing!

Happy New Year everyone. May 2013 bring you health, happiness, and fair
winds and following seas on your adventures too.

3 comments:

  1. Happy New Year to you both. Loving following your adventures on this blog. May 2013 bring you more super currents and fair winds and we will catch up in Ireland in summer. Hurrah!

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  2. Happy New Year Myles and Eithne! Really enjoying hearing about your adventure, here's to an awesome 2013!

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  3. HI myles and eithne, hapy new year from the cox's in carramore . are enjoying your blog prompted by louis. it will be no length until we see ye passing from the kitchen window to old head. safe sailing... Pat Carmel Ellen and Hannah

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