10.12.2009 - 10.12.2009
One thing that surprised me was daylight: Whilst admittedly we are the further West now than we will ever be, but in terms of longitude we are not all that far away West, and are further East than some places in the same timezone. But I am surprised at just how late the sun is now coming up, considering we are still well within the tropics. In the last year+, I have been used to the sun coming up at 6-7am at the latest, and being perfectly bright and sunny by that time. In some places, such as Mozambique, the sun was up and bright by 5am at the latest. But here, passing West Africa, at 8am it was still pitch black. By 9 it was light, but it would be 9.30am or so before it could be called daylight.
And that was a definite shock to the system.
Passing Dakar, over 150 ships were in range on the scanner, and that did not include small local/fishing boats, though over half were in Dakar harbour or at anchorage. But we are now into busy sea lanes and traffic is fairly frequent. We pass at least 3 or 4 ships a day and have also seen a couple of private yachts. The weather remains warm not hot, and horribly humid though hazy, and even though my eyesight is generally pretty good, it is amazing how hard it can be to spot other ships, even when they are quite close: The wrong shape or colour, and they can bled into the background with astonishing ease.
As we head inexorably North, it starts to change: The good (and even occasionally full) mobile phone signal we received passing the more developed and populated parts of the west African coast – though no network was reachable except for emergency calls – slowly dies out to nothing as we start passing the empty desert of Mauritania. The water, whilst still very calm on the grand scheme of things becomes noticeable more choppy, both to look at and feel. We are traveling over a knot slower. The waves pick up, whipped into white topped pounding water: The wind is increasingly strong, and walking down the deck becomes a bit of a struggle. It is noticeably cooler. We are rolling forward and backwards (as opposed to side to side) which i have always found awkward to sleep in.
Unlike some ships I have traveled on where the crew pretty much spent their time at sea drinking and playing cards, this crew take their jobs seriously: As a general rule Polish crews really look after their boats [unlike certain other nationalities who tend to wear them out much quicker], partly out of duty an respect for the sea, and partly I suspect out of boredom. And so despite the fact the ship is soon to be retired, pretty much the whole of the deck and fittings have been repainted since I boarded; machinery has been stripped and oiled. Slowly reaching Europe and the end of this voyage, it is good to know that the crew are diligent and I am in good hands.