On-board Diary: We approach San Vicente. Wednesday, June 8th, 2005
Author: Ester Casado
Date: June 8, 2005
As you know, we have had rough seas, with the blowing hard on the prow side of the ship. By the end of the day, the weather improved. It is surprising how fast climate conditions change in the ocean. In a matter of hours, the situation can go from calm seas, without seabreeze in sight, to a storm, and vice versa. Although we know about the influence the oceans exert on the planet climate, it is in these circumstances when you really appreciate the dynamics involved, and how the sea as a whole is a living entity.
As we come near Cabo San Vicente, we enter one of the main seaway systems of the Atlantic, with great numbers of merchant ships, oil ships and large fishing vessels, en route to the Mediterranean and to West Africa's fishing grounds.
This inevitably brings to mind the eerie experience suffered by Nano, one of the sailors, when he arrived to the port of Noaudhibou, in Mauritania, during a crossing onboard the Snooty. They arrived in the dead of night, with no previous reference of the port. As they came near, they realized the docking area was full of ships, so they were forced to anchor amidst them. However, it was a great surprise when, in the light of day, they became aware they had docked at a phantom port, filled with abandoned, upside down and sunken vessels. The spectacle was uncanny, but it was even more surprising when they heard the explanation: those vessels, most of them old fishing boats, had belonged to large companies, who abandoned them on that spot, after they could be used no more.
There are many problems linked to fisheries in West Africa, but no one takes notice of them. These are rich fishing grounds with entirely artisanal fleets, victims of inifficient or inexistent fishing regulation and under exploitation by European fleets.
The Ranger proceeds navigation with hopes of arriving at the port of Lagos in Algarve ( Portugal ), tomorrow morning.
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