Sunday, 16 April 2006 at 22:36|
Latest email from Ellen:
"Well it's time to write after finally getting some sleep since our early departure from Shanghai 24 hours ago. The sky is clear, and we are in the last few hours of darkness, but the night has been long. Very long! Leaving Shanghai went incredibly well in contrast to what we dealt with on our arrival. Oli came up with a master plan for leaving the marina - which worked a treat - we left the pontoon and squeezed ourselves out using the fenders on the side of the floats, it was like a cork popping out of a bottle! We then headed down the river and met up with the pilot boat on time and as we motored down the congested waterway there was a huge sense of relief for everyone onboard. After covering over 100 miles to the start line, the water became clearer and our spirits lifted, it was an incredible feat to put B&Q where she was and now we were on our way again!
I remember a few things vividly from the river journey, such as the black swan that flew alongside us for a while – who it seemed was also trying to get away fro the city and the congestion imagine! The barges, many of which were tied up, sometimes five or six deep at the side of the river, I don't know how a river can have so many boats on it, it was incredible, just incredible. The massive ships which were being welded in the dark as we headed up the river were now visible - huge tankers – it is hard to imagine them being built anywhere - let alone on a river in the middle of a city!
The second part of the trip to the start line was relatively uneventful - but the wind was dying - and where we had hoped for a slightly faster trip, it was beginning to look very slow. Which is exactly as it is now - light and upwind.
The most unbelievable part happened just after dark where we had a situation where fishing boat after fishing boat mounted up around us. Once dark the scene was surreal. I can only compare it to being out on the water during the fire works display in Cowes Week, or during the Royal Navy Fleet Review where the water was literally thick with boats. It wasn’t only boats but also their nets, cages and floats - marked with green and red flashing lights, as well as fixed green and red lights - funnily enough their were identical to our nav lights!! There were also cargo ships steaming through - and I have no idea how they don't take out the fishing boats, there were hundreds - literally. At the beginning of the night as it was going starting to go dark Loik counted 47 - and then they multiplied - massively. I would estimate that there were at least 150 if not 200 in view - and at least as many floats and lights.
We all stood in the cockpit looking around us, and none of us had seen anything even remotely like that before. It was just incredible - unreal and surreal. How can any fish survive amongst all those boats? We couldn't sail for any period without ducking and diving round boats, and altering course for nets and buoys - it's miracle that we didn’t pick anything up or hit anything - wow.
Later we tacked as the fishing boats cleared somewhat, now we are on port tack heading east, which shall help us later. We tacked around a tiny group of islands called the Jinggangshan Archipelago which were quite interesting - and just a mile from east to west.
Everyone is ok onboard - some are quite tired as it's been a long day, and being at the boat for 0430 am meant that most only had 4 or 5 hours sleep from the previous night. I on the other hand could not sleep yesterday. Sometimes I think that my body tunes into something - and it did yesterday - it must have been anticipating the onslaught of fishing boats! It was a very long 22 hours before I finally slept.
Time for a quick peek outside – I can still see fishing boats out there - though a lot fewer than before, what an experience!