Howling At The Moon

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Lapita Voyage Logs
Matt Fletcher

Last night, after a long day of little progress the wind showed brief promise, and then died. Again. I sat alone on deck as we started to drift back towards the Philippines, spinning gently through 360 degrees in the full moonlight. It was the last straw for my tired soul and I lost the plot. As I stormed around the deck tightening sails, then loosening them, and trying to paddle us back on course then throwing the paddle down in frustration, I began to rant. Out into the calm night I yelled curses at the wind, waves, current and ragged swell we'd endured all day. Damn the Gods of the sea. Damn them all.

That last rant may have been a mistake. Too much time at sea in bad conditions can make even the greatest atheist irrationally superstitious and cautious about causing offence to the elements. And true to form the sea got its own back five minutes later when a big swell swept out of nowhere and T-boned us. At the time I was going through my hatch, which swung noiselessly through 90 degrees and smashed into the bridge of my nose. It bled quite a bit. I looked like I'd been in a pub fight. My mood did not improve, but it did mean the end of my watch. I went below to dab off the blood and have a quiet word with myself.

Matt on deck

So today at breakfast my friends admired my new look (the busted nose goes well with the 10-day beard and cheap Pilippino board shorts) and cooked more porridge whilst going nowhere fast. But we sailed on with a little breeze under a cloudless sky along the east coast of Biak and at dusk snuck into a tiny fishing village called Korido where we ate fresh fish fried on the quay where it was landed. Now we sit around on deck under a spectacular star-lit sky with a new crew sharing jokes and brandy. I guess everyone howls at the moon now and again, but life on the Pacific is clearly a matter of give and take. The trouble is you never know when it's going to give and when it's going to take.

- Matt Fletcher