Perhaps he would find some evidence that could help put his mind at ease. Were his memories of those last few minutes before his boat foundered in the cyclone just imagination, or hallucination from the extreme sea sickness. It did not seem at all likely that they were reality. That sort of thing just did not happen in real life.
Rob had followed time honoured traditition when he re-named the boat he bought for his solo voyage from the very prosaic 'Wild Wanderer'. Obliterating any trace of the old name and even going as far as writing its old name on a piece of metal in water soluble ink and throwing it into the sea while reciting an invocation to Neptune. Rob thought the new name, This Way Up' very witty, especially as he had the sign painter letter it upside down. He had spent almost the last of his pre-departure budget on the minature of champagne to sprinkle on the boat and into the sea, with a taste for himself. When he waved farewell to his friends in Portsmouth he had told them to expect him back in four years.
The first few weeks had tested him. He had several really close escapes while navigating across the marine highway that is the English Channel.If the cargo ships and tankers even saw you in a sailing boat it made little difference, they ploughed on in their pre-set courses and the most that would happen would be a warning blast from their klaxon. Never mind that power was supposed to give way to sail he doubted that most of these vessels even had a real lookout, instead relying on radar. Once across the Channel he was glad to tie up in port and sleep. He was beginning to realise that getting enough sleep was going to be a real problem when he had to travel further between ports.
Rather than venture out across the Bay of Biscay Rob decided to hop from port to port. To make enough money to pay harbour fees he took holiday makers out for short day trips and even out fishing. He was glad to be alone though at the end of the day. This was his boat and he did not want to share her with anyone else.
The cruise down the coasts of Portugal and Spain to Gibraltar gave him a chance to practice night sailing. Setting a timer for a 15 minute nap after checking position and scanning the horizon, waking, checking course and position, another nap and so on through the night, this was going to be the pattern over most of his voyage. He was averaging many more miles per day now. Perhaps he would make it home in four years.
Tying up in Gibraltar he promised himself at least a few days rest and relaxation to explore 'The Rock' before seeing to essential repairs and maintenance and replenishing stocks of food and water. His plan was to follow the African coast down to the Suez Canal and from there head into Red Sea. That would mean making sure he had enough fuel on board for all of the 120 miles of the canal and enough packs of cigarettes for 'presents' to officials and pilots. It was a good job he had given up smoking, at least he would not have to worry about using them up en route himself.
His frustration and anger at the delays and petty corruption he suffered on this leg of his journey had almost been enough to make him start smoking again. There were set fees for transiting the canal, but 'agents' were always adding their own cut. Customs and police expected 'presents' otherwise you could be held up for days. Hoisting his sails as he exited the canal and entered the Red Sea he breathed a sigh of relief, gain he was on his own and reliant on nobody else. ....