Latitude: 02°23’.900 N
Longitude: 008°38’.850 W
Heading: 147° true
Wind: Southerly, 18 knots
The horn orchestra performed by the Monaco yachts upon our departure seems so far off in the distance now. Kicking off the expedition at the prestigious Monaco Yacht Club, I remember perceiving Pangaea as dwarfed by the sheer size of the adjacent giants. Not many vehicles can convey a unique story and character as well as boats do, though. That of Pangaea screams adventure. Her expedition-grade rigging and worn aluminum hull with dents and scars, which can each tell a story from the other side of the world, create a stark and curious contrast to the fine-polished hulls and delicate superyacht designs. Moored amongst them, she radiates an insatiable hunger for exploration, as though wanting to instantly break free from the mooring lines and made bound for distant shores.
Today, two weeks and around 3200 nautical miles later, we are hugging the Atlantic coast of the African continent as we cruise down South, having passed the halfway mark on our trip from Monaco to Cape Town already. So far we have been gifted with favorable winds and currents, enabling us to make great progress and push ahead of schedule. This time made good will come in handy soon as we pass the equator and the trade winds and currents start turning against us.
Ever since we’ve passed the Cape Verde Islands and rounded the westernmost tip of Africa, we’ve entered virgin territory for the Pangaea. After rounding the world several times and logging close to 200.000 nautical miles, the Pangaea had yet to be seen by the majority of the African Atlantic coast. The boat is an explorer herself, desiring to leave a track behind in the blank spots on the canvas that is the oceans of the world. This idea has recently been shared with me by Mike when talking about his expedition route choice and has added another layer of appreciation for the boat that we’re sailing on. In the past few months I’ve learned to feel at home on this boat during the expedition preparation phase at port. Now, with the boat making way, entire new facets of the boat are revealing themselves which I’m feverishly familiarizing myself with through the guidance and mentorship of Mike, taking in all the fresh information like a sponge, with the curiousness of the ocean sailing neophyte that I am. While the Pangaea is heading into the approaching waves at a close-hauled course, with the wind filling her freshly painted sails that propel her forward at eleven knots, with the waves tickling her bow as it pierces through the seas, you cannot help but notice her enjoyment and eloquence all along. Now, she truly is in her element.
Of the coast we don’t see much as we stay mostly more than 50 nautical miles offshore. But in the moments we do catch rare glimpses of it, the lights of homes send us imagining about distant and exotic cultures. There, at shore, must be a completely different world and life from what we know. At sea, we’re in our own little world, isolated and surrounded only by the horizon and our thoughts. The longer the duration we are at sea, the simpler our lives become. Watch periods, sail trimming and cloud studying become the cornerstones of our day-to-day life, and the daily progress we’re making stands above all else. We live for the gale that sends us hurrying all across the deck and crawling through sailbags, and for the serene nightwatch that sees the moonlight caressing the deck and the sails from both the sky and the sea; for the breathtakingly colorful sunset like you could only experience it at sea that brings the whole crew together on deck to marvel at the mesmerizing yet momentary display of art in nature; for both the intense times that make us feel alive, and for the tranquil moments that allow us to think about the ones that are important to us. The largest concerns of life at sea become reduced to coming on deck and being told just having missed the pod of pilot whales that passed by us two short minutes ago (happened to me yesterday), or the nightly tradeoff between the occasional spray hitting the face while sleeping, and a close-hatched, airtight sauna of a cabin (Mike could sing you a song about getting ripped out of sleep by a bucket load of spray). The fear of losing focus for just one fraction of a second and being thrown off the boom by the next better gust. And I won’t deny feeling homesick at times. But come that next thrilling storm, that next purple sunset, that next school of playful dolphins graciously surfing down our bow wave, and an overwhelming sense of beauty and gratitude takes over, flushing the most profound kind of contentment down my every fiber. Is this what sailors call “Finding the ocean”?
We are massively enjoying and enthralled by the momentum of the expedition start. The anticipation for what lies ahead is big. We are looking forward to crossing the equator by this time tomorrow, to the amazing things that are awaiting us in Namibia and Cape Town, and beyond all that, to the ever-looming grand adventure that is going to be the Southern Ocean.
With hot and humid regards from Africa,