The next morning, my water tank ran out of water.
When I wanted to pour my reserve into it, I noticed that it was filthy. There
was very little swell of the sea, so I decided to get the water cleaned. I had
about 50 litres, including the emergency ration, so that would be plentiful.
Suddenly the wind was rising and I had to go out and reef down. Because of the
strong wind and North Equatorial Current, I nearly ran 8 knots fully reefed
Late in the afternoon, I heard a strange splashing sound and looked down in the
keel. In here was my 50 litres of water. The water tank was empty because I had
forgot to turn off the tap - big idiot. I had poured my emergency ration into it
as well, since I wanted to change all the water when I call at a port. And what
a brilliant idea that was. My ration will now get a marking; for emergencies
only or while in port.
I studied the chart and the nearest island was Isla Margarita down by Venezuela,
135 miles away. This would mean I had to go 180 degrees south, across wind, sea
and current. It would be risky and probably completely impossible. My speed was
constantly about 7-8 knots fully reefed down, and from time to time I had a wave
coming in over the stern. Should I then attempt to do this sideways, no way - I
just have to carry on. When you are this stupid, I guess you have to suffer. And
with the current speed, it would only be three more days, so.....
That evening the wind had died down to a breeze, but the current still enabled
me to go 4-4˝ knots. Okay, now it's four days. I have some moisture in form of
canned corn, canned tuna in oil and canned liver paté. During the first 24
hours, I had put all containers outside, and had emptied them for drops.
second day, I tried drinking seawater with an overdose of orange powder mix. It
was so strong that it temporarily drowned out the salty taste. But a burning
sensation in throat and mouth followed. I'm almost on the brink of throwing up,
when I drink water from canned corn. It's simply too nauseating and sweet. Why
did those damn black boys have to eat all the canned fruit?
I rummaged through the boat several times to find something drinkable, but no.
Instead, I found three pieces of chewing gum. It tasted like heaven and produced
saliva for a while.
On day three without water - and still two more days at sea
ahead - I decided to go out into the ship route and call the first ship, I was
to meet. Sagaso, a big tanker from Panama appeared in the horizon around noon
and answered my call immediately. I had imagined that they would just throw a
couple of bottles tied to a rope overboard and then go on. Then I would surely
get to them, even if it had to take me all day. Or they could let some fresh
water run through the fire hose. Just get beside me and splash my little boat.
Then I would catch it in a spare sail inside the cockpit, but no. The captain
insisted on getting to a standstill and staying there until I had received the
water, which meant that he had to spend 30 minutes switching from Heavy Fuel oil
to diesel, so he would be able to operate the ship. When he came to a halt, they
had tied a 200 metre rope to a 20 litre container. I went round his back and
caught the rope with my boat hook. I did this three times for his sake only,
since they had prepared three containers for me. I guess 10 litres would have
been enough, but now I was eyeing a fresh water shower ahead. It was difficult
to get the boat turned around and getting so close to him in the strong current
and sea with just a light breeze. And then doing it three times. The tanker
looked terrifyingly big when approaching the rear end of it, but things went
well. Their cameras were flashing and they were videotaping and waving joyfully.
And a joy it was to get water in the tank. First off, I drank two litres of
lemonade. Then a litre of cocoa (powder), a whole jug of coffee, then some more
lemonade, and I didn't even have to pee for the first 24 hours or so.
I had several conversations with Sagaso. They were just happy to be of
assistance. No reproachful remarks whatsoever. The whole operation cost them
about three hours plus switching back and forth between diesel and fuel oil,
I don't think I could have died from water shortage, since I had the cans of
corn, some jam, etc. But I might well have been in line for recreation, had I
not received this water.
It's funny how not having any water gets on your mind. And it gets even harder
trying to get some sleep when you can hear the water trickle along the hull.