Lat: 35 07.137′ S
Lon: 20 43.302′ E

I didn’t think I’d have much to write about by myself out here, but I guess I was wrong. I’m emailing twice a day anyway to keep a close eye on the weather, so why not?

Last night was one to remember. There have been more seabirds here than anyplace we’ve been except maybe New Zealand. At sunset, they spread out over the ocean fishing for dinner. Hundreds of them, spaced well apart, covered most of the visible ocean surface. They fished by flying at a relatively low height, flying odd, swooping patterns at 50′ or less. When they spotted prey below, they immediately interrupted their flight with a direct dive down into the water. Sometimes they’d spotted something ahead and just nosed down into a dive, but at at other times the fish was beside or even just behind them and they turned into aerial acrobats, executing a quick combination of rolls, turns, and spins to point nose first at their target, then tucking their wings, they dropped with the force of gravity until they disappeared with a splash. As I sat watching them in the orange glow of the sunset, I could see the unmistakable plumes of spray from whales off in the distance.

DSC_0633 Taking a break from fishing

DSC_0639 On the hunt

DSC_0658 Some birds will dip a wing to skim the surface in order to scare or herd fish

DSC_0709 Sunset flight

This far south during the southern winter the days are noticeably longer than in the tropics, and there was still a faint light from the sun left in the western sky at 9 pm. When it faded, and before the moon rose in the east, the sky was covered in a soup of stars. The Milky Way stretched across the sky and even common constellations were a little difficult to identify because of all the dimmer stars, normally masked by ambient light, that were shining brightly. Even 50 miles offshore, the water hasn’t turned blue here; it has a greenish hue and is rich with phosphorescent plankton. In the starry night, every whitecap or disturbance in the water became a glowing, frothy white. Behind me, the boat’s wake was two glowing streams of phosphorescence that stretched more than 60′. The hulls themselves created such a glow that it looked like that boat was made of fluorescent lights below the waterline. As we moved along through the crisp night air, it made me wish there was a way that you could capture a sight or an experience like this so that you could re-live it. But you can’t. All you can do is keep having new adventures.

Sailing is all about highs and lows — fighting not to puke while struggling to perform the basic necessities of life and sailing one day, and then staring in awe as you sit quiet and undisturbed the next day, taking in some of the planet’s most beautiful sights. Those highs and lows are a little more extreme when you’re singlehanding, but aside from the fatigue and loneliness, it’s much the same.

I just changed course and headed WNW for Cape Agulhas, about 40 nm away. The new northerly component will stay in our heading until we reach the US. It looks like I’ll round the cape in daylight today and reach Simon’s Town tomorrow.