Isla de los Estados (Puerto Hoppner)
Night watch is a concept of utter cruelty.
It is night it is cold but all that doesn't matter. I am warm in bed, dreaming the dreams of the happy ones, rejoicing in my state of warmth and comfort, aware that outside, just a few cm away from my exact position it is not comfortable anymore, it is a place where one should stay awake against the will of night. But I'm in bed, relishing the mattress, loving the smell of the sheets, adoring my head lightly sinking in my pillow, feathers all around me, warming me, comforting me, helping me to fly and rest my tired self. It is dark, it is cold, I lift my blanket just a little bit just to cover my ear, to keep out the draft, and instantly life is just how I like it. Mmmmmh, mmmmmh turn a little bit, hmmmm hmmmm I could stay like this forever.... but there's something missing, in all this. Where is Hakan? To make it perfect, until the sun rises I need Hakan, just here, with his arm around me, with his breath in the nape of my neck. No, Hakan is on watch, he watches for our life, he's outside in the cold air making sure we're not about to hit something, adjusting the sails so we'll fly to our destination where we'll throw anchor, where we'll rest undisturbed if the wind and the waves play with us.
I feel warm and good but something is pulling at me, from inside, Sophie, Sophie, you must wake up, you must deliver Hakan, you must start your watch, it pulls at my dream, wakes me. My eyes are heavy, my belly wants to resume sleep, but I must fight, I must gather the energy to wake up. But it is dark, it is cold, I have slept just a few hours, for days now I have slept just a few hours on a row, I want to stay in the warmth... I look out, Hakan is there, I know he waits for me to wake up, I know I must go, put on my clothes and stay awake for hours in this cold night. I look out and see Hakan, he doesn't know I'm half awake, maybe I sleep a little more and then have more strength to gather the energy, yes that's what I'll do, I pull the cover over my ear, to stop the draft, the cold air, hmmm, delicious, for a minute, not even because the pulling is there, because I should stand up and watch, watch the boat that is not there, watch the black sea, the black sky, the black cabin, everything is dark, everything sleeps, I must wake up. Wake up against my will against my health and deliver, deliver sweet Hakan who's been waiting for me to take over the never ending watch circus.
Finally I make a sound loud enough for Hakan to know I'm awake, to forbid myself to sink back in the dreams, in the warmth, the comfort. I ask him if he wants to sleep ??of course?? he answers, my world crumbles around me, I put my clothes under the blanket to warm them up before pulling them on, aaargh it is cold, Hakan tells me it is not that cold tonight, but from my point, cold cold cold brrr. Hakan's in bed now, I'm outside, outside of the bed, with layers of thermal underwear, layers of swollen skin under my eyes, Hakan is in bed and I want to slip in bed as well, get his arm around me and sleep like that until the sun rises.
This night is hard for me, the motor is running, so we're having electricity made, I want the radar, I will stay awake, but I want the radar! So I will not have to put my head outside in the freezing wind, I can stay inside, write to you, not move too much to keep the warmth I make close to myself, instead of losing it behind me.
The radar is on, for the first time since I live here, on Mardek. The radar will not beep because there's no soul in the waters, 50 degrees south, no ship around, no fishermen, no cargo no tanker, no cruise ship no sailboat, everybody away from us, utterly alone in this night. But the radar is working and I don't have to check the empty night for confirmation. Knowing from inside there's no one around is not enough, you must go check, with your eyes in the night, look for the unexisting light from another vessel, here, 50 degrees south, the unexisting light, unexisting vessel.
I did go out though, out of pure habit, scan the horizon. The sun hasn't completely set tonight, too close to the south pole, too close to the longest day of the year, in the south, where we're heading, light is there, timidly yes, but there! How close we are from the midnight sun? 3 30 am and the night hasn't set, it is like we're heading towards a huge city, but there's nothing out there, just the midnight sun over Antarctica, the ice continent. Brr just the thought of it gives me the chills. I will, right here right now make myself a noodle soup, to warm me, to keep me awake, then maybe I'll come back to you, write more.
4 30am, had a noodle soup, it took me one hour to make it, to eat it, and to come back to you. How wonderful, you see, when I tell you time had a different value at sea... Make and eat a asian fast food styrofoam cup soup doesn't take an hour, go to the restaurant and have a steak with a green salad takes an hour, but not a dehydrated soup... beef flavor, spicy, my lips on fire.
Light is clearly here now, closing in to the pole, in a few days we'll arrive at Isla dos Estados, a few tiny island at the extreme south east of the continent, with no human presence, at the entrance of the strait of Le Maire a few miles from Ushuaia, where we'll enter the channels, the glaciers, the crazy winds and the amazing views. I'm a little afraid of this area, for it is said to be so damn humid. Last year it rained all day, every day... I hope the people telling that were exaggerating, seeing it trough the filters of their own frustration, a few hours every day, or all day but not every single one of them...
I'm exited as well to go there, if you look on a map, the tip of the continent is just a total labyrinth of channels, glaciers, fjords, scattered land, wild, untamable. Then I have contradictive information. On one side they tell me that no fish lives in the channels, and on the other hand, I've heard that the dolphins help you to find the proper anchor place, so if there is no fish, why would there be dolphins? For our sole amusement and comfort? Just for those reasons, to find out about the fish, about the dolphins showing us the way? I'm glad to go. Well anyhow, I'm going so I better be glad or I as well, will see rain all day, every day, and that, really, I wish not.