5 am and an impossibly beautiful sunrise over glassy water.
Alone in the cockpit with my first morning coffee I have been thinking about the enormity of this voyage. We are approaching Kazan, meeting place of Orthodox and Islamic cultures and something of a milestone for dear old Tainui. But ahead of her are another thousand miles until she reaches Istanbul.
I wouldn’t have missed all this for the world, but crikey, what an undertaking. The Volga just goes on and on. Time dilates and a hypnotic sameness threatens to stop individual days defining themselves.
Except yesterday, for example, when around a river bend there loomed Makarieff Monastery. Totally unexpected, its huge ramparts and massed golden onion domes glistened in the afternoon light. We stopped to visit the peaceful cloistered gardens and dark, brooding chapels. Unforgettable.
So, are the days really all the same? Of course not.
An experience like Makarieff seems to come our way every few days, reminding us why we’re here, demarcating the endless miles far more effectively than any clock or calendar. As if we should need reminding!
Time to strip off for a swim before I wake the girls and put on their coffee.