After several days of light winds and clear air, a mist encloses the Europa as we sail south. The mist changes the atmosphere in more ways than one as it thickens, giving us a strange, limited and constrained world bounded within a stone’s throw in every direction. While we are still in the middle of the great ocean, psychologically we are now a ship in a small pond whose grey edges are undefined. Peculiar.
The limited visibility does something else. The anachronistic nature of a tall sailing ship in 2017 is emphasized. We can dis-assemble that word “anachronism” as “out of its time”. In clear air and long views, the Europa is a modern equipped ship, in a modern world with a modern crew. But as she ghosts along in the mist has our voyage become a journey in time without the context and clarity modernity? Sea fever encourages a febrile imagination, and becomes untethered. My fellow crew are the same people but I notice strange and secret phenomena. A beard from the 1800s, a weathered smock in a style from an earlier age, a phrase from an antique mariner’s language. Ghost vessels are nonsense and fabricated, of course, but tonight as the light falls, the Europa is no longer sailing in a rational world. As we dissolve into the fog, past and present are blurred and blended. Our compass is now a clock and the wind is pushing us through the mist in degrees and seconds, and centuries. We are fiction, a spectral ship in our own imagination, travelling south in time.