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September 8, 2023

Setting sail to southern Spain

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© OCEANA / Vera Coelho

 

Today is my first time on board the Ranger, after being prevented from joining last year’s expedition due to COVID. And, in two words, it’s an impressive vessel! At over 21 metres, it is an imposing yet elegant catamaran.

We slept on board, in harbour, rocked by the waves. I was woken up before sunrise by the sound of the engines, as the Ranger left Sagunto. This was perfect, as it allowed me to get up and be on deck for the sunrise at sea, which was spectacular. There is nothing like waking up to that beautiful light, the smell of the breeze, the rocking of the boat and the wind on our skin!

We had fantastic weather – calm water and blue skies. There was only a bit of wind, but enough for the crew to get to work on hoisting the sails. That’s when the Ranger is at its best: speed picks up, and the sight of the Ranger with unfurled sails is a real beauty.

Of the marine animals we saw, my favourite were the flying fish – we saw many, as they flew away from the stern of the Ranger in small groups of three to eight at a time. They are such interesting animals – one of the crew members described them as a mixture of fish, bird and dragonfly (which I think is a very apt description!). We also saw a few groups of juvenile tuna feeding at the surface, usually accompanied by marine birds.

Life on board never stops, though. Between keeping the course, watching out for other vessels, cooking meals and cleaning up afterwards, recording videos and photographing marine wildlife, there is always something to do. But everything is done in the rhythm of the sea and of the Ranger. It’s a big change from our usual daily routine, when we are ruled by our schedules of advocacy meetings and document deadlines. It’s good to be reminded that the ocean operates at its own pace.

At the end of the day, I was exhausted from all the new sights and experiences – and from trying to keep my balance on deck for so many hours! But we were rewarded with the most beautiful starlit sky, as it was almost a new moon. We could see the Milky Way and enjoy the ocean breeze at a perfect temperature – no longer hot like during the day, but not cold either. Just a perfect embrace from the sea air to end a gorgeous day.

© OCEANA / Vera Coelho. Deckhand Cristina Urien on the Ranger’s stern at sunrise. Sailing from Sagunto to Almerimar, Spain.