The Last Stretch

The last stretch – just over 24 hours – we’ve made via engine. Quest is a completely different animal with her engine on.

The wind died out – but the seas stayed big for a while. This is the benefit of sail that, as soon as you turn the engine on, you don’t feel anymore. Bounce, bounce, bounce. From left to right, sorry, port to starboard and back again. A sail will keep a sailboat locked in position, but take it away and everything began to clatter and sing.

In particular, when any of us came to the back of the boat, we stood with our heads cocked. ‘What’s that noise?’

It was the eponymous clunk. Could we find the offending item though? Well, at least it gave our captain something to do. While I made pork and rice for lunch, and the girls read their beautiful books, Jack searched through every cupboard at the back of Quest.

Not such a simple task – since all the dive gear is stowed away in a large cupboard at the back which is accessed via the swim platform. You could have got the impression that Jack was a potential jumper from the amount of times he hung out of the cupboard, half-suspended over the sea. I told the girls to keep an eye on him while I cooked.

They both shrugged. ‘If he falls in, we’ll just stop,’ Lu muttered.

Yeah, if you hear him, I thought. Oh well, hopefully he’ll be ok.

He was happily searching – but he still couldn’t find the source of the rolling clunk. Steering system checked, dive bottles eyed over. Gas tanks at the back of Quest, in their own special vented locker. We made sure they weren’t loose.

‘Maybe it’s a dive weight,’ Jack eventually suggested, though there was no way he’d be able to access them, down at the very bottom. Though I could see his face twitching.

‘Don’t you even think about it!’

We lived with the clunk which, as time went on, became less and less. The sea became calmer as we headed southwest. Indeed, as the light softened in the afternoon, even though we were still 150nm away from the mainland of South America, it was like we could feel it in the air.

It no longer felt like wild, open sea. A ship approached and passed us. It was an amazing sight – it looked like it was towing a small city. It was towing a gas platform – or the scaffolding for a rocket ship, towering into the air.

We shrugged. Maybe it was a Venezuelan sell-off. Indeed, the ship we could see on AIS, had a Chinese name. It was towing this huge contraption at over 15 knots, northeast towards Mexico. Set to arrive on the 4th of August.

With the soft light and extra balmy conditions, we began to dream about South America. How cool it would be to visit on Quest.

For now, Bonaire. And diving. I feel like the next stretch of our journey is going to be about the work. Perhaps from the work we’ve put in to get here. In this way, I’m not sure it will be as fun and free as Barbados was. More ‘eat the Edam and go diving’. We will see.

Just before sunset, we caught a large barracuda on the fishing line. Some people happily eat them, but we aren’t so keen. It was so big, Jack couldn’t free the hook with his normal pliers. I had to go below and find the big ones.

‘Hurry up!’ Lulu shouted. ‘You’re killing it.’

I scrambled round and raced back up. I didn’t realise it was all down to me.

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