Around The World Voyage : Commentary : Leg 4

May 17, 2002

7:30 EDT. 206 miles to Aruba 12 52.755 N 66 32.747 W

I had an experience last night, which I am almost ashamed to admit, but the story will serve as a reminder to all of us.

Several squall cells showed up on the radar. They appear as a large “target” and can usually be distinguished from a vessel by their large size and undulating nature. At one point I saw about 10 of them and several passed over the boat to prove their authenticity with rain and wind.

I was somewhat distracted at the time because I was sending and receiving a large batch of e-mail on the computer. The poor computer’s resources are over loaded and it has crashed several times, so sending and receiving e-mail is a white-knuckle experience requiring concentration. The light was on in the pilothouse but I was still glancing at the radar every few minutes to check on my “friends”.

When I finished the e-mail, turned off the light and looked around, there was a ship about ¾ mile off our port side. My heart raced as I quickly tried to determine where this guy came from, what his course was and what his intentions were. Basically, he was one of the “squalls” and was innocently passing us with his starboard side to our port side.

I called him on the radio and he said (in a heavily accented voice) “Yea mon, got you on my radar mon, no problem mon”. Relieved, I then became chatty and asked where he was going. “Goin' to Jamaica mon” was the last I heard as the ship slowly passed and crossed us with about a 2 knot advantage. Closest point was about ½ mile.

Moral to the story. PAY ATTENTION and don’t play with the computer or e-mail while on watch. Wait a minute…! That is what I am doing right now! OK, I going to punish myself with another cup of coffee.


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