Sunday 10 November 2013
Day 23: Still Sailing Merrily
We are now past half way on our voyage, as well as past halfway across the Atlantic form St Helena to Brazil. And sailing along with a fair breeze and a warm sun. We have been sailing coninuously for four days odd. Good cruising, I would imagine. It is bliss not hearing the motors running.
We are now nearing the tropical waters off the Brazilian coast where we hope to catch a few decent fish. Fishing is almost becoming an obsession now. On both my previous voyages in these climes we caught fish before this stage. Perhaps still a side effect of the adverse weather.
Last night was the first night of the voyage where the moon was actually visible. Quite a sight when you can see the waves around you with the tops foaming every now and then in the silvery moon. There were still some clouds about, making it almost like being on a film set from and old monochrome Frankenstein movie.
Today is a sunny day again. The sea is that deep blue colour that I remember so well from previous voyages. Cerulean, I think is the shade. And I saw a bird again. We haven't seen birds for a few days now. This means we are gettting closer to land again.
Soon we shall be seeing the cumulus clouds over the Brazilian mainland again. And the brilliant sunsets in those clouds. More picturesque moments to look forward to, I guess. It is really beautiful surroundings we are sailing in, but therein lies a big caveat for photographers.
There is a very real danger that one will have a large number of photographs that are essentially all the same: A red, cloudy sunset. Or sunrise. With hardly a proper subject or theme. This makes for an interesting challenge to the photographer: Avoiding repetition.
Or how to go about collecting images of the voyage without repeating or becoming boring with repetition. The end result needs to be an essay of crossing the Atlantic, not a gazillion happy snappies of sunrises or sunsets with some clouds for decoration.
The typical equipment on hand consist of a compact camera and, in my case, a small adjustable tripod. Having such meagre equipment puts a very real limit on technical effects. Then you realise just how important the composition and subject matter becomes on a voyage like this, perhaps more so than when at home with all your fancy equipment.
One of the limitations I have is that I can take images only in JPG format. I have set the camera to the most manual mode possible in order to get the images I want, as opposed to some sort of general focus- and light settings. It helps, but you need to know your camera intimately. A stage which I probably I shall reach only by the time this voyage is over...
Post-processing is a relatively primitive affair, as I am using ViewNX2, the free package from Nikon that comes with the camera. Perhaps I need to purchase a copy of Adobe Lightroom when I have a chance. But the fact remains, you start with an in-camera processed image. Even though it is in relatively high definition, the image may have lost sharpness where you wanted it. Never to recover.
Enough technical speak.
I had a proper set of sun sights today. It was also brought home to me yet again that dead reckoning must include an estimate of leeway. I allowed for about four degrees of leeway, even with the wind almost from astern. We are sailing a catamaran, which is more prone to drifting than a monohull vessel with a deep keel. And my plots proved me right. The difference between my calculations and the GPS is now less than ten nautical miles. This from a difference of over twenty miles and diverging.
Live a little, learn a little. And to me this is a life skill.
I use this time aboard to broaden my horizons. No pun intended. A voyage such as this offers the traveller ample opportunity for reading and study. Opportunity that is sadly missing in urban society.
Authored by Johan Zietsman
Last updated on 2013-10-17