Ship’s Log: Day Twenty One (Melbourne to Tilbury)

Twenty-first day of the voyage; fourteenth day of the Pacific crossing.

At last, the first hint of land after two weeks. It came via land-based birds, and their effect on a sailor is clearly noticeable: four appeared today, from the legendary Galapagos Islands (what a thrill to be so close the islands at the heart of evolutionary theory),

They dove for the flying fish, following the ship, settling on it for the night. Hovering, with wingtips curled, they would flip over, pull their wings in and dive bomb into the ocean before flapping up again with their catch.

When they first turned up, they made me realise that there are no insects out on the ocean – no mosquitoes, flies, beetles – and the only birds are the ocean-going ones, the albatrosses and mollymooks further south, who love the wind and storms, or perhaps migratory birds, high above and at the right season. The intriguing flying-fish don’t count, really; little black things that look like swallows, flapping along just above a wave for thirty or forty metres after being disturbed by the ship.

But land birds signal hope, an anticipation for creatures hard-wired to walk on terra-firma.

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