21 August 2018 – Andy’s Blog – Contrasting Heaven & Hell

Having left Ed in Bridport, I set sail solo again towards Plymouth. What followed was the most extraordinary day. Around half an hour after I left I had three birds come to the boat, individually. Now it isn’t unusual for a bird to come and move around the sails, it happens often at sea. On this occasion the first (black tip) came and hovered over me for several minutes. Then it took off in the exact direction we were travelling. As it left the next arrived, an immature seagull. It performed an identical manoeuvre. As it left the third came (yellow tip) and did the same thing. The picture does not do this justice as it is of a later bird. All three seemed like they were almost in touching distance and they hovered over me perfectly. I have never experienced this before. I was so taken I emailed Philip Mounstephen as he was keenly interested in all of our flying friends when on board.

The sea was balmy and calm, the force six decreased to force five. The wind was on the nose, the worse place sailing wise, but it was enjoyable sailing, albeit life at 45 degrees again, mostly in not quite the right direction. Suddenly a huge pod of dolphins showed up and stayed for nearly an hour. There were at least forty, but could have been many more. They cavorted around the boat, leaping and jumping. It was a stunning and very special show. I was there, all alone with the Wild Goose, laughing and applauding wildly. It was amazing and such a privilege. Towards evening four dolphins came along side the stern, two either side. They started whistling to me through their blow holes. Whilst my attempts to encourage their conversation were probably not understood, something was. I have never experienced this behaviour before. It was sheer magic and by the time they left I was crying with joy. My soul felt like it had found heaven. Then, after dark, more dolphins came along side, this time leaping so high they looked like they were in danger of coming on board. Again a new experience for me. I thanked God, this was a piece of heaven for me.

A good job really as I was then taken into a dark place. As night fell it was clear there was no moon and it was overcast. It was so black that any light shone like a beacon. Well that is until the fog came in. Start Point light house, clearly visible previously, was now invisible even a mile away. Normally it can be seen for over twenty five. It isn’t the worse fog I’ve been in but it was challenging. I struggled to keep course as with no visual reference I had to keep checking the compass. I remembered my hands and letting God have a play. What to do in a dire situation? Obviously, set things up so one can grab some sleep and hand it over to the almighty. So that’s what I did. With the boat self steering, a radar and AIS check on potential threats, and I was able to comfortably sleep below for thirty minute stretches. Thus as I arrived safely in Plymouth this morning at 10:00, twenty seven hours after departure, I had managed a good four hours sleep. That really does feel like luxury. Despite the darkness, for the periods I was on deck, the waves phosphoresced. Sparkling like something from a fairy story, the bleak fog bound night was transformed into a magical place Disney would struggle to replicate. It is an amazing thing when the light gets to play its tune.