The mariner and poet Chris Couch sent me this poem, which sums up the more positive feelings I had about the ocean during my Atlantic crossing. (The less positive feelings were decidedly un-poetic, and indeed unpublishable...)
Alone on an open sea
Gazing at a star filled sky
Where would I be?
Had I passed this planet by
An empty vessel
Floating through time and space
A blue marbled port
How on earth did I land in this place?
Not easy is this world
A life of battles
Defeats and victories hard fought
Seeking balance on the surface
While living deep in thought
An unknown destination
Towards which I ride
Beyond a moonlit horizon
Where my two worlds collide
A truth we have learned
This secret we share
Feeling her movement
Breathing her air
Taking measure of life
Standing at the edge of this step
All I have lost
All I have kept
Having forgotten more
Than most will learn
Surrounded in her cold darkness
She beckons for my return
[Photo: sunrise on the Atlanti - photo taken by me]
A contact in Hawaii sent me this appalling picture of rubbish on a beach - and maybe the most horrifying thing about it is that this island is uninhabited. It is Kaho'olawe Island in Hawaii, and all the rubbish has arrived via the ocean. Much of it comes from Korea and Japan, as evidenced by the language on the plastic bottles. Once in a while volunteers arrive for a clean-up, and the rubbish is helicoptered out.
If this is the amount that ends up on the beach of a small island, how much more must be still swilling around in the ocean.... and who can clean it up from there?
A sad commentary on the state of the oceans, by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston... see this article in the Times.
It makes me sad that the ocean I will be setting out across this summer is a less magical, and more dangerous, place than it would have been forty years ago. If it has changed this much in the space of one lifetime, what does the future hold? Will there be any whales left at all? Or will the oceans be criss-crossed by a series of container ship superhighways?
What IS all this stuff being shipped around the world anyway? Is it really necessary, or dictated by the desire for financial gain rather than common sense?
According to Wikipedia, the world's biggest container ship is 400m long and can carry 14,500 containers, a cargo worth up to $300 million. Between 5 and 6 million units are in transit at any one time. This "entails a great deal of risk" says Wikipedia.
I guess they mean financial risk, but I'm thinking more of the risk to a little 24-foot rowboat...
From May 1st I will be off on my travels again. I am flying back to the UK for various meetings and a one-woman, self-imposed writer's retreat to work on my Atlantic book.
I will have only occasional access to internet, but will try to keep up my blogs using my mobile phone to post updates. But please forgive any longer-than-usual gaps between blogs from now until my return to the US on May 15th.