You need to keep your cool to get through the doldrums. We’ve been trying to make headway through this burning, becalmed hell for the past 24 hours. The situation in the early hours is not glorious. We’ve been caught up by our four pursuers in a matter of hours.
One week of effort, choices and sweat reduced to a handful of miles this morning. We’re sailing within sight of each other and whilst it is a heavenly sight it is also the land of Satan for sailors on a quest for the magical gust or the miraculous breath of air which will give us back the edge or at least get us out of this gilded prison.
The fine, sparkling sea has a smooth, pure and wrinkle-free surface and the small black jellyfish drifting across it give us an indication of the weak current in this zone, which is carrying us forward in this long, tiresome march northwards. The horizon is speckled with hundreds of little clouds, which plunge over it by way of a reminder that the earth is round. A dark zone appears to be drifting towards us and with it pressure and deliverance.
The perpetual flogging of the sails comes to an end, the boat heels, we gradually ease the sails and power up and glide along. A gentle breeze sweeps across the deck for a few seconds before running out of puff, then a second breeze kicks in but unfortunately it doesn’t take us in the right direction. Here we are facing a headwind and forced to tack if we want to make the most of its benefits as quickly as possible. It passes by, without waiting for us, and the water becomes mirror-like once more, the rays of sunshine come crashing down on the deck of the boat.
We just have to sit it out and wait for the next one, the suspense unbearable.