By Brian Hancock
It’s Turkey Day here in the USA and to celebrate, Pen Duick VI rounded the 45 degree south waypoint and I made myself a spicy bloody mary for breakfast. One needs to get a jump-start on a day like this that involves a tad bit of over-indulgence and a long nap while everyone else is watching to football game – I prefer rugby as you may know. I may just watch a re-run of South Africa beating the New Zealand All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup final just for the fun of it… Sorry, I know that there are people in New Zealand following the race but sometimes I can’t help myself.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s update, the Southern Ocean seems to be in a good mood so let’s instead talk about my most favourite bird, well except for the African Fish Eagle which I absolutely love; the Wandering Albatross. They are such majestic animals that make a sailing trip across the Southern Ocean a sheer pleasure, despite the cold and wet. The albatross are pelagic birds which means that they spend most of their days at sea and only come back to land to breed, a bit like me when I was younger. Except that I couldn’t fly. I did skydive a few times so maybe that counts.
When you are on a boat sailing some steep waves and looking out on grey skies you start to feel all alone, even though you are with a full crew, but when you see that albatross come cruising in riding the breeze with very little effort, it’s a sight nothing short of magic. They can fly 10,000 miles without stopping (way better than my old VW Beetle), and have a wingspan of around 10 feet, a little over 3 metres for those of you living in the metric world.
They come in low and slow, their beautiful wings just skimming the water, and as they get closer to the boat they bank off to the west (or east) and show you just how graceful a bird of that size can be. Funny thing. At sea they are as graceful as a ballet dancer, but on land, not so much. I have seen small colonies of them when I cruised Tierra del Feugo and they waddle around looking for a mate, just like I did on my first date all those years ago.
So, because the bloody mary is kicking in I will leave you with that image that you won’t be able to get out of your head, and wish the entire crew of the McIntrye Ocean Globe Race a Happy Thanksgiving, especially Godspeed. I haven’t forgotten you even though you have withdrawn from the race, you are still part of the OGR family.