We arrived back in the anchorage around 1 a.m. on Saturday morning having dutifully sailed the required 40 nautical miles offshore to release our baby barnacles into the deep blue sea. The operation proved far more challenging than anticipated. Unfortunately, the flat-calm, glassy seas of a few days ago had been replaced by a vicious chop. We hove-to (basically forcing the genoa onto the opposite tack from the main sail, so that the main and the foresail work against each other, stopping the boat and calming the motion). But even this attempt at nautical parking didn't achieve the desired effect.
Shepherd Moon ploughed on at around 1.5 knots, rolling from side to side like a drunken sailor. I tied a rope around my middle, and we ran another rope along the side of the boat to hold onto, and then, with sunset fast approaching, the time for procrastinating was over. We have a small air tank on board and a long hose with a regulator on the end, and so armed with that and a scrubbing brush, I plunged in. It was challenging to say the least. Holding on with one arm and scrubbing with the other, while the boat kept bouncing around above you. After a while it became more and more difficult to breathe. I know I am 55 but a little bit of sub-aquatic scrubbing shouldn't leave me that out of breath. I then realised the air tank must have run out of air and I still had another side to do.
I returned to the back of the boat to report progress, only to be told the good news that the shark that had been following the boat had now disappeared. My immediate reaction was "Shark! What shark?" Apparently, they had tried to warn me with a couple of gentle tugs on my rope but didn't want to panic me unnecessarily unless the shark got closer; it had been holding station a couple of waves behind Shepherd Moon. The fact that the shark could swim that distance considerably faster than I could reach the back of the boat was deemed a minor concern in the general scheme of things. Anyway, with the light failing and the air tank empty, I had to go back and complete the other side with just a snorkel and deep breaths. Whilst more of a struggle, it did at least stop my mind from wandering to some of the more gruesome scenes from "Jaws".
At 16/02/2018 22:36 (utc) our position was 01°11.82'N 089°10.14'W