I look at my lonely swimmers on the clothesline and think of all those lovely women – Max, Rosie Beth and the little bird – with their mess, their noise and their life-affirming enthusiasm. They have all flown the coop.
I was sorry to leave Sinop, which is a splendid stopover on this long coastline. Now at sea, alone and feeling abandoned, I am crashing west into a short chop and a fresh westerly wind.
I have been short tacking under main, sometimes with staysail, with help from Henry Ford. Ferocious black squalls have been passing over Tainui in relentless succession. Hand steering in driving rain, luffing into the breeze during the puffs. Strong wind and the steep little seas are all over the place and it is very tedious.
The shoreline is quite lovely, when it appears through the rain squalls – serried ranks of steep, two-dimensional purple and black hills, which are very occasionally splashed with a touch of sunshine. Then they turn emerald and positively glow.
This would be a lovely coast to cruise at leisure. There are protected little harbours along the way, at 30 mile intervals. They are well lit and secure. There are fishing boats galore and now and again a freighter passes by. But here on Tainui there is neither laughter, mess nor fine smells from the galley. Unless I make them myself.
For me the main trouble with single-handed sailing is the people you have to share the boat with. Today I have just one boring old fart who talks to himself. Chris says we are each of us ultimately alone. If so, I don’t much like being alone with this bloke. I never have. I marvel at people like Tony Gooch, who positively thrive in the solitude of single-handed sailing. For me it is all about the company on board, and arriving at new and unknown ports.
Still, I can’t complain. I came into Cide Harbour at dusk last night and dropped the hook in flat water. With peaceful silence broken only by the wonderful sound of gentle rain on the deck and evening calls to prayer I sat in the cockpit with a medicinal apple juice and felt very content. That is what cruising is all about.