It's only 3more days on a boat!
19.10.2008 - 22.10.2008 25 °C
It's a bit strange. Leaving Ascension, the mood aboard is very different. Though we only gained a few new passengers, the balance seems to suddenly be very different. The sky is mostly semi-overcast, and though still hot, we've seen very little sun for a couple of days now. The general feeling is now almost one of almost anger that we are so close yet so far, and people are becoming withdrawn. Everybody knows it's only just a couple of days more, but instead of anticipation, we seem to have more frustration that we aren't there yet. It's very odd.
Loading luggage onboard from the pontoons; Georgetown, Ascension Islands capital city; the pontoons departing having done the job, and the piranha-like blackfish. Not tasty for humans, but hungry and lots of the blighters
Ascension itself is an interesting if strange place. Effectively it is one big transit lounge, and added to the status and types of people that live there, it just doesn't seem quite right. It also fulfills a number of very special roles: It's a major hub in the transatlantic and South Africa to Europe communication cable networks, once of crucial significance. It's a major repeater station for the BBC world service, and is one of the base stations for the worlds GPS system, and has also been a NASA tracking station amongst much else. Having said that, even though i had barely an hour ashore in daylight, it looks varied and in places beautiful, and certainly some areas would be worthy of more time and exploration, particularly Green Mountain. I kind of doubt that I will ever go back, but it certainly wouldn't be the end of the world if i was to one day get stuck there for a couple of days.
Watching Ascension disappear into the background, some of the Geology and strata of the North east coast around Boatswain Bird Island, and this happy fellow who flew alongside us - with the Dolphins again coming out to play as we departed - for some time before getting bored
I am spending my last couple of days as I have most of the rest. Some reading, some talking, and a chunk of just milling around and watching the sea slide by. There were however, a couple of new diversions: First up, a tour of the engine rooms and ships belly - despite obviously being huge, I was surprised at how small the diesels actually are, whilst my abiding memory is one of amazement at just how many pipes and electrical cables there are down below. I also tried, unsuccessfully to solve some of the little mysteries that the ship had given me, such as 'What happened to the clock above the pool which suddenly disappeared?' (it's in pieces being fixed) and why does the lift show a maximum of 8psg and 600kgs on the top floor, but 8psg and 630kgs on the other 2 floors?? (gravity? stupidity? It remains entirely unknown - none of the ship's staff had ever noticed it before. At least I have the satisfaction that it will now annoy certain other people, and not just myself!)
Slightly bizarrely, we were also given a full rollcall and lifeboat drill. Now, call me picky, but why the heck you wait for the last 24hours of a 16day trip to hold such a drill was a little beyond me. Whilst i freely accept that we had been joined by some new passengers (15) at Ascension, that didn't really help the exiting 91 who had been on the ship the whole way and through both much busier sea lanes and choppy seas where there may have been more cause for concern. Oh well. Who am i to tell these people what to do?
The waters are choppier than they have been, and with Captain Young seemingly in a hurry to get home, we are still barreling along at a great rate of knots without any stabilisers (well, stabiliser, as the other one fell off during a recent dry dock overhaul, and hasn't been re-attached). By all accounts, we will even be a few hours early. As for me and my mood, it's also a bit strange. Some anticipation, some excitement, some relief, some sadness and some anxiety. But regardless of all that, i'm inching relentlessly closer to St. Helena, this almost mythical Island I have been hearing about for so damned long.
Roll on tomorrow.
Above: Nobody ever explained what this marker mean't (it used to mean plague...) when it suddenly appeared on a cabin door, and below, position plotted. We're finally almost home!