Chasing the Albatross

My adventure in search of a bird by David Lawson



0 Monday 9th July

  • by David Lawson
  • 09-07-2018

Monday 9th July 8pm

And finally the hills of Donegal come into sight off our starboard bow. The most westerly point of Europe. At one time we did think the first land we would see was to be Iceland.

We should arrive in the small hours of Tuesday morning and I’ve learned today that now I have crossed the Altlantic I can have a tattoo of an anchor……mmmmm….not sure about that one. I can also have a bluebird as I’ve sailed more than 5,000 miles on my various Legs of this overall race. I’m sure there are a few more but hopefully not too many as I may run out of skin at this rate.

So it will be interesting to see what Derry has to offer. I’m sure it will be great.

Monday 9th July 2.00pm

We’ve just come on deck and as Michael our resident Irishman informs us ‘the weather is out’. I thought the weather had been out all the time on this passage but what he actually means is that the sun is out.

In actual fact the sun is high in the sky and foulies have now been predominantly replaced by shorts, shirts and the occasional jacket although DK still has his foulie bottoms on. For some boots have been replaced by deck shoes and trainers. Only Trevor retains his woolly hat and sunglasses are now the norm.

The sea is calm with a little swell. As the sun glints off the ripples on the ocean it’s as if lights are doing flashed on an off all along our starboard bow.

A thin layer of cloud hugs the horizon all around and the pale blue sky of the horizon deepens to a mid blue the higher I look.

The sound of the waterfall behind the boat has now subsided to more like a stream as the rudders create a wake behind.

The boat rolls in a gentle motion from side the side and forward and back. Occasionally the breeze picks up and we quickly gather some more speed. As the breeze drops the mainsail flaps occasionally.

The talk on board has now turned to Derry and what we will all be doing. On shore duties have been allocated around the boat. Early tomorrow morning should see us arrive in port.

The first order of the day will probably be breakfast. Lots of tea, bacon and eggs. I can taste it already.

Monday 9th July 4.38am

It’s 4.38am and the sun has just risen over the low cloud on the horizon off our port bow. 141 miles to go and that will be a crossing of the Atlantic completed for me.

A gannet flies past us on the hunt for breakfast. Long fingers of low broken cloud stretch behind our boat painted in creams and grey with a tinge of pink. The pale sunlight glistens on the surface of the ocean which undulates with a light swell.

I’m sitting on the rear port quarter of the deck listening to the waterfall that is the wash created by the twin rudders behind the boat.

Manx sheerwaters glide over the surface and above us an arctic tern flits left then right before wheeling away.

The early morning sunlight gives our sails a translucent glow.

DK sits on the deck in the opposite quarter to me. In full foulies and a black balaclava with only his eyes visible. I imagine an Arab assassin waiting to pounce.

Trevor holds the ‘string’ which controls the working sheet to the spinnaker. Unmistakable in his black woolly hat flecked with white and his mittens hanging from his red jacket he is the ‘father’ of the boat. Jerry stands high in the starboard helming station. His hands in Outdoor Research mittens guide the helm and our boat across the sea. Andre sits in the cockpit making some notes to capture his thoughts. Lambo is catching memories on his camera and Michael, Adrian and Colin watch the sun rising. Fiona, in her canary yellow drysuit adds a splash of colour amongst the rest of us in our red foulies. My blue mug of tea, the first if the day, has just been passed back along the boat.

These are the images which surround me and from which memories are formed. Another lovely day is on its way. Wonderful.