Sailing West Through Uncharted Waters — For Me

Day 57, Grand World Voyage

Wednesday, March 1, 2023; Indian Ocean.

I guess these waters of the Indian Ocean are charted – and probably well charted given satellite technology – but they are new to me. Today is our seventh day at sea since leaving Fremantle, Australia. The month of March will bring us to Africa, past the calendar midpoint of our 128-day world cruise, and to entirely new ports for me.

We’ve had an incredibly smooth crossing in my opinion. Sure, there were a few days with some swells, enough to rock me to sleep at night. But I haven’t heard a word about seasickness from anyone. Tropical Cyclone Freddy moved along our path but several days ahead of us. Tropical Storm Enala is spinning around (clockwise, of course) south of us. In his noon reports Capt. Friso updates us on his course changes to avoid its path. By the time you read this, we should be past it.

Most people who read this blog know I love sea days, and I’ve remained incredibly busy, despite taking a bit of a break from writing blog posts. I’ve spent most of my time on two major projects – planning future cruises and catching up on my sketchbook painting.

When this cruise ends in Fort Lauderdale on May 12, I will stay aboard another nine weeks, sailing back to northern Europe and eventually leaving the ship in Boston. In the fall I’m cruising from Montreal to Antarctica and back to Florida. Then it’s another world cruise.

That totals 120 ports to explore.  I’m planning the big ones first – Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls, Taj Mahal, Petra, Port Isaac (aka Portwenn — Doc Martin fans will know). We booked the last three spots for the April 2024 overland in Israel to Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth, so I dare not put off planning too long.

My real challenge during this week at sea has been catching up on my painting. I brought four sketchbooks (Etchr’s “The Perfect Sketchbook, size A5) and have filled the first. Sailing away from Fremantle seemed a good stopping place.

I’d like to add a photo gallery option to my blog site, so I could post lots of paintings, but it’s beyond my WordPress skills. (If someone wants to help, I’m in the market.) So I’ll sprinkle a few here for now. In a number of my paintings, I’ve practiced a few new techniques Deb taught in watercolor class. Some worked out better than others, but that is the purpose of a sketchbook. It’s all practice in the end.

I’m also changing my sketching strategy a bit as we move forward. So far, I’ve mostly sketched back on the ship from photos I took on land. I’ve sometimes been overly ambitious, doing several sketches from some ports. I won’t have long stretches of sea days to catch up going forward.

I’d like to return to my previous practice of sketching on site. That means rougher sketches as I won’t have time to plan them in pencil before jumping in with ink. And I might have to strike out on my own rather than sticking with the group. That was a little easier when I was traveling alone. It will be a challenge, as some of our ports won’t be as safe or comfortable as the previous stops. We’ll see how it goes.

I wouldn’t be so far behind this cruise if I hadn’t spent the first block of sea days finishing up the sketchbook from my fall cruise!

One thing I know is that I won’t have big blocks of sea days for catching up. In March we have 14 sea days, and in April only five days we’re not in port. I need to find a middle ground for exploring, sketching and writing. And wouldn’t it be nice to read a book?

I’ll leave you with a larger painting I did (of the Three Sisters near Sydney) for a silent auction planned for later in the cruise.