It is odd to think how easily land just slips away. You know it is going to happen, and yet it doesn’t quite register. You might be sitting in the cockpit chatting, raise your head for a look around only to find that all the solid ground has gone. Or maybe it was there when you went to sleep, but has seemingly disappeared by the time you get up. Either way, it’s there, and also it is not.
You can see water – deep blue expanses in every direction you look. Perhaps the abstract shape of a cream sail far off on the horizon. Maybe even a spattering of water droplets blasted into the air by a passing pod of whales (if you are as lucky as us). Not much else. This sudden lack of terra firma scares some people shitless, sending them into a sudden panic, while others marvel at the fact you can still be alone – and I mean totally alone – on this busy planet of ours. Setting the AIS (the radar that identifies ships around us) to a radius of 32 nautical miles, and seeing nothing on the screen… the enormity of being the only people in that area (over 10,100 nm2) is somewhat mind boggling.
And land appears as suddenly as it disappeared – three, five, ten days later. Sometimes seemingly an illusion, as incredulously, someone will ask “is that land?” Sometimes as solidly as you would hope, a distinct, dark shape in the distance. Other times you know it is there before you see it, as Holly experienced upon approaching Spain. The smell of – sadly – burning plastic, as we neared the industrialised outskirts of Gijón.
I find that its sudden materialisation can lead to mixed feelings; relief (the thought of flushing toilets and hot showers!), anticipation, but also a pang of sadness that your time of solitude is over. But then, new land is the promise of whole new adventures!