Report 38: Sputnik coming up
On this trip, we sailed a north-eastern course. The Bermuda Triangle probably still stuck to the captain’s bones. [Report 18] On the other hand, we had to catch all the wind we could, because the fuel supply for the engine was not increased, as long as we did not reach a harbour for replenishing. Whether hitting port on the Azores was considered as an option, I do not know. All I knew was that we were now at sea for almost two months, it was getting colder and that we had passed the Azores in 200 miles distance, according to remarks from the officer on duty at noon yesterday. Then the wind fell asleep once again. It was slow and annoying like the coffee grinder bread and cereal soaked in sugar water. Since the equator, the free watch sat for hours on the railing, hoping that a fish would bite on the string with bent wire hung in the sea, even if it were only very small. We could also see some fish. Just that they would not bite, because no convincing bait was attached. The best we could offer was some crust from our loading-grain bread. The cereal was absolutely of no use. A radio message brought life back to the place: The Russian frigate who’s ID we have been obliged to ignore, came forward and asked for an observation around the horizon.
Because of our tall masts, we can oversee a vast sea area, and that with several dozen pairs of eyes. The most glorious Soviet Union was testing their first space satellite with an animal on board in the early morning hours*). This could fly past in a position approximately 200 nautical miles north-northeast of us at about 1,500 kilometers altitude above the Atlantic. Alternatively it was arranged that the satellite would splash down in the designated sea area on a parachute.
The way communications went in particular did not leak through to us. For us it meant that it is a matter of life and death when a dog is in the device. However, there was no chance to reach the sea area on time, neither tomorrow nor the day after tomorrow, because it depended on the wind which was only blowing in the potential landing area. “No problem”, should have been the answer: “Give us a towing rope and we bring you there in time.”