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India Ocean

Let's go back ten days ago...

do you remember what you did that day? Can you remember where you went? Who you ate with at noon? And what did you talk about? And the day after, what did you do then? In the evening did you go to the movies? Did you go to bed early, did you spent the evening with a friend? now that you are back there, please, feel in your soul the time that has past since then, all that has happened, all the things you saw felt said, the experiences you lived, all you read ate looked
forward to or avoided... feel. The extent of it...

Before reading on, feel these ten days. Let them come back to you for a minute, meanwhile I'll boil water for a cup of tea.

Ten days ago I had left land since many hours already, 10, 20, 30 more? Who knows? Not me. On the water counting is poisonous, I told you that already, long time ago. Ten days ago, what I can tell you about it without counting is that I most probably sat on the exact same place, seeing the exact same things. My feet attached to my legs, some ropes and fenders and the water. Blue. With no one on it. Apparently. Most of the time. The Indian Ocean. Very smooth, no waves no swell sweet wind. Can't complain
about her, not one word. We haven't even had to close the windows, no water jumping on deck, no water wetting me then, great. Since ten days I've been sitting here, sometimes I move a little, shove myself 10 centimeters to the left, maybe sit on the opposite side of the cockpit, and if I'm very daring, ... I'd go sit inside for a while, throw my legs on the table and sit some more, then I would for long minutes at a time cut garlic and onions and some other veggies and cook for as long as I could.
Nap and come back. In the same place but by then I would lean on the cabin wall to avoid the stinging light of the slowly setting sun.

For days we were right on the cargo lane. Huge, mountainous ships would pass us by. Heading to or coming from the red sea. Their lane is very wide, it took us quite a while to place us to their starboard side.

I'm on watch, there is no moon, it is so dark all I can see is stars. Many of them. My world for the night. I'm sitting on my spot. I'm listening to the water while we slide over it, regular, comforting, so well known by now. Behind me a ship is coming, it is going to overtake us in what 15 minutes, a little more, a little less... I see its lights, I can't yet make out if the light is red or if it is green. Its color will tell me what side it is going to pass me. I let the monster approach. At sea
their is nothing but the horizon line. It makes evaluation nearly impossible. Where is the cargo now? Where exactly is it heading to? Are we, tiny insect sized boat on its track? It is approaching still. To me, in the darkest night, it seems it is going parallel to us. To me, in the darkest hour, it seems it is going to pass us to our right and I should not divert our route. Am I right?

We're sailing with the spinnaker, which is a huge baloonlike sail we can only use when the wind is light, when there are no waves. It lifts Mardek a little bit. It feels like we are being pulled forwards and up, by the nose. It is very comfortable, very smooth, very regular. With a spi you can't alter your direction very much or the wind won't fill the sail. You'll stop.

I think the light is red. Damn it is coming close. In the darkest minutes I can hear the monster motor roar. Dull and regular it trembles through the water, through Mardek's hull, through me. In the darkest moments I see in the pitch black of the night a huge shadow. Is it darker than the night or is it just denser? Maybe it is ten thousand times bigger than us. Probably the little men commanding this container town are not even aware of our presence here, below their feet. The roar tightens my guts.
The light is definitely red, no green in sight, which normally means that it is going to pass alongside. But what if it is not really parallel to us, what if they move on a slight slant. What if halfway the monster crosses our path? Remember, with no landmark to compare, I can not know where the ship is, not exactly. I see its windows, I see the bridge. It is close. But it is not going to touch us. No. I think not. Not if they keep on going, not if they touch nothing. But what if they suddenly decide
to turn? What if they for no apparent reason push this simple button once and turn to us. Then, we're doomed... it will crush us without them even hearing a thing under the roar of their own belly. Like when you, minding you own business walk on a working ant.

I'm filled with adrenaline, wishing, begging for them not to turn. They don't, turn. They pass us by, a darker patch in the darkest of nights. My heart's running a little podum pudum pudum pudum, for a change. The ship has passed. Mardek swings on its wake wave ones or twice, then I hear the thin fabric of the sail, it is dancing a mad dance, thinning, wallowing left and right. No wind, the sail is empty. shkilng clang shling clongk the empty sail hitting the mast, all shackles, bits and pieces
chatting for a while and then, ...bwoOOM the wind is back, the sail is filled, Mardek shakes then all is silent ones more, just the water and its soft song while we glide over it. The ship, the cargo, the container monster had blocked off our wind. So close, so close.

It made me think of that horrible story I heard not so long ago. A bunch of kids decided to cross the railway when closed already. They probably could see the train and knew they could pass. In extremis. What they didn't know was that the train created whirlpools with the air while cutting full speed through it, like water in an emptying sink. The last kid passed the train track just before the train arrived, maybe he thought he had made it when the whirlpool sucked him back in and crushed him. Maybe
next time I'll divert Mardek from its track, just to make sure, but what of my running heart, what of the little excitement? What?

Now I'm sitting, on my spot, many more cargos have passed us, one maybe came as close to us during the day. In daylight perception is different, the ship cut off our wind again but my heart didn't race. I felt relief, relief to know that Hakan lets ships pass us by very close as well, I'm not alone...

I'm not alone, I'm with Hakan. Him, me and the sea. And we sit. We sit on a desert of salty water. A cargo our excitement, our self our world. 10 days one adrenaline shot and on, to our next landfall. 10 days? remember your 10 days? The extent of it?

03.03.2007

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