Daily Archives: July 21, 2018

Flipside

I came on watch this morning before dawn and Jack went downstairs to take a nap. Shortly after sunrise we were hit with a sudden wind squall that spun the boat around so quick I didn’t have time to get the sails under control. We had been sailing wing and wing with the mainsail held out to one side and the jib on the other, both secured with preventer lines. I called for Jack who took the helm while I went from one side deck to the other releasing the preventers and sheeting in the sails. We followed the wind around in a circle getting slammed this way and that by the big seas until the squall passed and the wind decided on a direction, then got back on something resembling our course and the sails trimmed. It was over in about 15 minutes but we were both exhausted and flush with adrenalin.

I offered to go below and make coffee while Jack kept an eye on things. I should have remembered that slamming into steep seas would shift the contents of the cabinets but it wasn’t on my mind. So when I opened a cupboard door the stack of my beloved little Turkish bowls toppled onto the counter, and half of them onto the floor and down the steps into the port hull.

I loved those bowls. I bought them at Harris Farm Market in Sydney for $2 each on a day when Alex drove Jack and me all over the city to knock off a bunch or errands that would have taken a day apiece had we used public transportation. Alex embraced every one of our quests and entertained us with life stories to boot. We ended up at Harris and when I wondered aloud if I should get four or six bowls Alex said to get the six. They became our dessert bowls, my yogurt bowls, serving bowls for nuts, olives, salsa. I associate them with Sydney and Alex and they made me happy. Three survived, not enough to serve dessert to guests, but enough for the salsa and the nibbles.

It took the better part of an hour to clean up the shards scattered so comprehensively throughout the galley and port hull that the effort left me queasy. By the time I delivered Jack’s thermal coffee mug to the cockpit I was ready for this day to be over. In fact I may have said I wanted to move to a farm. I’m not sure now what may have come out of my mouth at the time.

The day did improve after that, but I’m going to miss those bowls.

Flying fish routinely land onboard during a passage, but not usually on the cockpit cushions.

This fish was on deck after a particularly lively night of big waves.

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Underway

It’s our second night at sea on the way to Debut, Indonesia. It’s a beautiful night, with a sky full of stars, a soft breeze, following seas. The air is still chilly enough when the sun goes down that I change into sweatpants and a hoodie, funny when we’re at 10 degrees south latitude, closer to the equator than we’ve been since the Marquesas three years ago and that was hot. There’s a near constant parade of ships in both directions but they pass at a respectful distance. I’m still on the lookout for fishing vessels which are often unlit. There’s a tiny bit of moon but it’s dark on the water and I have to stare hard on my every 15-minute horizon check to see that the way ahead is clear.

A ship that I hailed earlier on the radio to make sure he could see us has altered course and is now abeam about a mile and a half away, bound for Singapore. Jack is off watch and I hope he’s getting some sleep. It takes a few days to adjust to the sleep pattern of a passage and we both feel out of sorts at first.

This afternoon we piped a couple of podcasts out to the cockpit, then switched to music. The random shuffle of a hundred gigabytes of tunes gave us didgeridoo music by Ganga Giri as a goodbye to Oz, then a beautiful rendition of Over the Rainbow by our dear friend Mary Cassidy to make us a little homesick for the people we love.

Being at sea, being anywhere cut off from the world and stripped of the visual stimuli of modern life, always unclutters my mind. It’s meditation, a complete reboot, tabula rasa. It’s what I loved about camping, when the hours in a day are concerned only with shelter, water, fire and food. Onboard a sailboat at sea, we watch the weather, take care of the boat’s needs to keep her on course and moving well. We take care of each other too, making sure we get enough rest, stay hydrated and fed. But with no internet or TV our minds are free to wander. Sometimes I find I’ve been staring at the sea or the sky for an hour with not one thought except to look and listen. The sea is of course hypnotic and it’s easy to lose yourself in its soothing rhythm. That’s assuming it’s in a soothing mood, which it is so far tonight. The wind is steady so I’m not having to tweak the sails or the course. So far this passage reminds me of sailing from Puerto Rico to Panama, a thousand downwind miles that started us on our six on/ six off watch schedule because it was too beautiful to go to bed. It doesn’t often happen but the memory of it keeps us coming back for more.

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