08.12.2009 - 08.12.2009
I was hallucinating. It was the only explanation.
It was, I believe, day 11 of the voyage, and almost 6days since we had left Walvisbaai. The Equator was a full days sailing behind us, and we were still less than halfway through the Walvisbaai – Vigo leg of our voyage.
Looking out of my window in the early morning, I caught a glimpse of something. I looked twice. Three times. I rubbed my eyes and peered again. But there, unmistakably, was a light on the horizon. I was not hallucinating. It really was there. I think. By daylight, I headed up to the bridge and confirmed that it really had happened:
At my best guess, something over 124hours after I had last seen anything resembling life, land or humanity (that was not on the Green Cape, of course), I could see another ship. The discovery of the fact that the world still existed out there was a momentous one in it's way, but irrelevant really. She was just another cargo ship in the distance, and although we followed a parallel course at an only marginally faster rate or knots mean't that we could see her for a full 24hours, she might as well have been a hallucination for all the difference it actually made to us.
Since the last bit of Namibian land, and the last ship around the anchorage had disappeared from, firstly, view, and secondly, radar contact, I had seen nothing except open water, occasional fish or dark shapes of dolphins passing the hull, and the even rarer bird. But now, as we come up towards West Africa, we are almost back in civilisation: The ports at Monrovia, Freetown and Conakry though too far to be seen – as, indeed, is all land - are not all that far away, and traffic to and from Ghana, the Cote d'Ivoire, Cameroon and the Nigerian oilfields is also coming into track: At one point later that day we had 6 (yes, SIX!) vessels on radar heading to/from Monrovia, or arriving from the Gulf of Guinea.
Still in the middle of nowhere on the grand scheme of things, we are at least now reaching some reasonably well traveled shipping lanes, and from here to Vigo (still a good week away, and with really miserable looking weather forecast for the last couple of days) we should at least have the vague excitement of being able to see a couple of vessels a day.