A combination of lots of work and being slightly ill has resulted in a slight hitch in my 30 Day Writing Challenge - but I'm now working hard to make up for lost time and I start with Day 17's challenge of The Ocean...
March 5th, 2012
This is it. I am off. As I’m writing this as I can see the south coast begin to disappear over the horizon. In a few moments, it will just be me and the ocean. Well, just me and ocean and the smattering of freighters I can see a few miles off to starboard. Going to try and keep this updated fairly regularly. I know people think I’m crazy for doing this without loads of preparation but I know I can do this. Right, off to check the rigging then it’s time for a celebratory beer. Adios.
March 10th, 2012
Ok, I admit it, I’m crap at remembering to write in this. Just had a couple of dolphin shadowing me for a few miles which was pretty cool. Almost close enough to touch. When they’d gone I actually felt lonely. This is the longest solo voyage I’ve attempted so I expected loneliness might creep in over the course of the four and a half weeks but not quite this quickly. Luckily I’ve got all five seasons of The Wire to keep me occupied. So I’m going to catch up on how McNulty and Bunk are getting on.
March 14th, 2012
So far, so smoothly. There is something so serene in being out on the ocean at night. Not a light to be seen in any direction, the stars brighter above me than they ever have been back home. Just me and the boat.
March 19th, 2012
I thought I saw a whale flume today but I might have been imagining it. Reminder to self – check to see if you get whales in these parts at this time of year.
March 21st, 2012
I’d like to write more, really I would. But I’m either busy or knackered after having been busy. I find myself drifting in and out of little mini-sleeps. I’d call them power naps but it would be a lie. I’m wishing I’d bought a lot more sugary stuff than I did. The reverse trip I am SO going to stock up. Weather a bit rougher today. Biggest swell I’ve seen since I left. Biggest swell I’ve ever seen actually, outside of movies. Kinda scary, if I’m honest. Which I can be with you, dear diary. Don’t tell anyone – when we retell this story, we were bold and brave.
March 26th, 2012
Three weeks in. Feeling very tired. Not sleeping well. Had something of a near miss earlier today; went by a metal shipping crate no more than hundred feet off portside. Never occurred to me one of those things could actually float. Don’t even want to think what would have happened if I’d have hit it. Got me even more paranoid about sleeping.
March 30th, 2012
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Storm last night. Fucking storm and a half. Lost the mast. Just ripped right off and took the mainsail with it. Lost the outboard as well. Don’t know how we got through it. Bounced around the cabin like a pinball. Super calm now but everything is fried. VHF. EPIRB. GPS. All gone. I can only guess there was a lightning strike but I was too busy not dying to even notice. Writing this because I’ve spent the last few hours trying to work out what the fuck I am going to do. Currently drifting north, north-east.
March 31st, 2012
Been doing the math: I was meant to arrive in Bermuda on April 6th, give or take a day or two. Which means it’s going to be at least a week until anyone even realises that I’ve not arrived. My mum always worries if she doesn’t hear from me, but my dad always calms her down and persuades her everything is ok because he knows I’m crap at remembering to call. Feeling a bit like the boy who cried wolf right now. I’ve got food and water to last two more weeks and if I halve rations I’ve got enough to last me a month. Probably going to write more in here now the laptop’s just a paperweight.
April 2nd, 2012
Hardly slept since the storm and when I finally laid down, I ended up sleeping for eight hours straight. Most I’ve slept since I left Southampton. Trying not to think about how badly that could have gone for me. Finding myself spending more time on deck. Even though I know I’m miles outside the shipping lanes, I keep hoping I might see something on the horizon and get a chance to pop a flare. Don’t want to miss an opportunity.
April 4th, 2012
Still drifting north east; estimate I am making no more than two knots at best. By my best estimates, that means I’m maybe two hundred and fifty miles north east of where I was when the storm hit. I’m trying not to think how difficult it is going to be for anyone to find me. Trying not to think that the Atlantic covers about twenty per cent of the world’s surface and anyone looking for me will have no idea where in all of that I might be. Needles in haystacks probably have better odds.
April 6th, 2012
I am beginning to get a real grasp of the concept of loneliness. Back when I lived in London, a lonely night would be one in which I wasn’t going out, a night in with a Chinese takeaway and watching some bad TV. When I think that I am in a patch of ocean where there is not a living soul within, possibly, hundreds of square miles of me, it makes me realise it’s only at times like this that you can know true loneliness. I was meant to be arriving in Bermuda today. My mum is probably waiting for my call and my dad is telling her not to worry. Fuck.
April 7th, 2012
Heavier seas last night and, without the mast, the boat rolls a lot more. I made sure the cabin was securely shut and used nylon-elastic ties to secure me to my bunk just in case we rolled. I’m pretty certain that if we did a 180, then we’d come straight out of it but I’m hoping I don’t have to find out. Idea of being turtled out here is a pretty scary one. Now one day late.
April 8th, 2012
Writing here becoming a habit. At least it keeps me from talking to myself which I do way too much at the moment. That I’ve also started to talk to McNulty and Bunk is probably a bad sign but there’s not much entertainment in these parts. Really wish I’d bought some books along instead of the laptop. Seas fairly calm. Saw another couple of dolphins today and wondered whether they are the same ones I saw back at the start. If this had been Flipper, they’d be swimming off to tell someone of my fate right about now.
April 9th, 2012
Three days late and I’m sure, by this point, my mum will be insisting my dad do some investigating and she won’t let up until he alerts everyone. I find myself scanning the horizon, scanning the skies all day. Hope to see a ship or a plane. But, so far, all I’ve seen are the high altitude contrails of airliners ploughing their way across the sky and to pop a flare for them would be a complete waste. Feeling a bit
week weak from halving rations.
April 10th, 2012
Experimented with a jury rigged fishing rod today. Figured if I could catch something, it would allow me to save some rations. No luck. So back to half rations.
Nothing worth writing today. Five days late now and everyone surely knows I’ve got problems. Trouble is, no one has any idea where I was when I ran into problems.
April 12, 2012
Ate two days rations in one go today. Don’t even know why. Just seemed a good idea at the time. Now cursing my stupidity. Still no sign of anyone else out here. Started drifting in a southerly direction. Wish I hadn’t just relied on GPS and computer maps to help me navigate. If I could navigate by the stars, I’d at least know roughly where I was.
April 13, 2012
A ship on the horizon for the briefest of seconds. I saw it as we rose to the top of a wave and ran into the cabin to get the flare gun but, when I got back, I couldn’t see it anymore. Fired off a red flare on instinct but it was daylight and I never saw the ship again. Now wondering if it even was a ship or whether I imagined it.
April 14th, 2012
I am beginning to think about the EPIRB. The fact it hasn’t activated might make the authorities think things are ok and that I’m just limping after the storm. They probably wouldn’t consider the possibility that it’s fried and useless. My thoughts have been tending to the more depressing ever since I thought I saw the ship yesterday.
April 15th, 2012
Still drifting south. No sign of any traffic. Sleeping more. Feels like that’s all I can do. Sleep and wait.
April 16th, 2012
Nothing happened. Just me and the ocean. Seas are calm at least.
April 20th, 2012
Two weeks since I was scheduled to arrive in Bermuda and I’m in the mid-Atlantic somewhere with no means of propulsion and only a few days of rations left. I’ve halved what I’ve got again. Being hungry keeps me alert at least.
April 22nd, 2012
I am finding it tough to think straight. The real worry I have is that if no one has found me by now then the search has probably been called off. So, right now, everyone thinks I’m dead. Cried for the first time since I was a kid and once I started it was hard to stop. If you’re reading this you probably think I’m a big fucking baby but I don’t care.
April 24th, 2012
Hunger is an ever present. Gnaws at me all the time. Feel twitchy. Still drifting south, going where the Atlantic takes me.
April 25th, 2012
I realised today that I am writing this diary now not for the sake of being able to relive the memories but because I’m increasingly worried that I’m not going to be found and this is all that’s going to be left. If so, I love you mum and dad. You should know it was me who broke the window, not Johnny back when we kids. I don’t even know why I told you that haha
April 26th, 2012
Last day of rations. Very much regretting my binge of April 12th. Sea calm and quiet.
April 27th, 2012
Three weeks since I should have in been In Bermuda. First day without food and all I can think about is what I’ll eat if they find me. A couple of weeks ago it would have been when they find me.
April 28th, 2012
All I’ve got left is water. Tried fishing again yesterday but no luck. Got buckets set up on the deck to catch rain.
April 30th, 2012
Shark fin off starboard bow. Circled the boat, a dark shadow beneath the waves as it checked me out, then disappeared. Never actually been scared of sharks until today. I feel weak. Sleeping a lot. I think I’ve lost hope of seeing a ship out here.
May 1st, 2012
Fourth day with no food. Still no luck with fishing. Rained heavily and filled the buckets so I have plenty of water.
May 4th, 2012
Star Wars day. Four weeks late now. If there was a search, it stopped a long time ago.
May 5th, 2012
Lack of food really getting to me. Drifting in south-westerly direction now.
May 6th, 2012
Thought I saw a ship off to the east and fired a flare but, even as I did it, I was pretty sure I must have day dreamed it up.
May 8th, 2012
A big storm is brewing in the west. Big black clouds on the horizon. All I need. I feel like it’s me against nature. Not going to hide from this one. Going to harness up and ride it out from on deck. Wish me luck.
Excerpt from diary recovered from the Wish You Well, a monohull sailboat of the type Contessa 32, on May 25th, 2012 by sailors of the TI Europe. A number of other personal effects were recovered from on board but there were no signs of life. The ship’s owner, Stuart Milne, is presumed drowned.