The Ocean Song.
3636 Nautical Miles from Chile.
We spent most of the day lolling around the Southern Ocean waiting for the impending storm we knew was inbound, guess you can say we were in, ‘The calm before the storm.’ Which if I’m being honest, is a very strange feeling. You know it’s coming, you can see the big anvil top of the cumulonimbus clouds brewing on the horizon. Your senses are heightened, you batten down the hatches, tie and lash down anything that moves, perform a full inspection of all running gear and anything else on deck. You check all systems two and three times just so you can get some peace of mind and sleep before suiting up. Even then, you’re half awake, listening out for any new notes being sung. That will always be the first tell tale. You see, The Nanook is constantly singing and dancing atop the deep blue, singing the ocean song. One of great persistence and courage, one of tenderness yet with no mercy given.
The storm hit in the early hours of the morning and had been and gone in a matter of hours, lighting fast and brutal in its assault as it moved overhead. It threw the Nanook and her crew around as if we were just a rubber duck in a big bathtub. By the time it had passed it was late in the afternoon, and the next system hot on its tail giving us a short breather before it kicked up the dust again.
The day had been rather nice, well, all things considered. We were making great headway in a favourable direction, it's just the swell that was messing us around. The time had come to change watches, I was to take over from Geoff. After a round and a quick debrief on tonight's predicted weather and sail plans, he wished me a safe watch and headed for bed. It wasn’t 5 minutes before his ears picked up a new note he hadn’t heard before, and for all at sea, the process that follows is an unnerving one. Geoff alerts me to the new tune being sung, silence falls on the Nanook as we both listen intently, all the while, trying to pinpoint its location and mentally making a list of what it could be creating the noise. It was a deep clunk, metal on metal. I could barely hear it from the saloon, so I popped my head into Geoff's cabin and heard it instantly. Geoff says it’s coming from the aft of our old composer.
As I opened the Saloon doors and stepped out into the darkness of the cockpit, I had this anxious feeling arise. I turned my head torch on as I clipped in. I scanned the area to see if it's anything on deck, but everything is where it should be. It's below…I opened one of the stern steering lockers, it's here where I spot the bass of our rudder stock shifting in place, the bolts moving from side to side, my stomach sinks as I can see drops of salt water coming in through the seal. I freeze for a second before snapping out of it and getting my ass into gear.
From inside the boat, Geoff patiently awaits for my report back. As I turn, he can see the busy walk I am now in, and without hesitation he starts putting on his foul weather gear while I relayed what I’ve seen. All the while rummaging through the tool bag in search for an array of spanners and shifters. We get back out into the cockpit and start ripping everything out of the steering lockers, fenders, rope bags and drogues. We need to get to both sides of the base to tighten up the bolts holding our rudder to the boat.
With the bolts tightened the new song had stopped and she went back to her usual lullaby’s, the ones we have all grown used to. So she continued dancing and singing her way across the Southern Pacific Ocean, taking us ever closer to that horizon of mountains we are so desperately pursuing…to Chile.