The Carriers of Grey Clouds

Yesterday I went through squall after squall. I call them The Grey Cloud Carriers.

The Grey Cloud Carriers are cold-hearted ninjas. They creep in, kidnap the sun, eat every patch of blue in the sky, and then confuse the wind until it spins every which way to Sunday.

They play games with me too. They take the wind in their fists and funnel it on top of me all at once. Then they shift it 40 degrees. Then they suck the sky dry, leaving me windless, while they drop water all over my head.

No air, too much air, wind shift, rain, no air, no rain, air…..

There is no control. I trim and try to keep whatever wind there is in my sails. I go in circles, tacking, jibing, tacking. Round and round seeking the wind.

I’m hungry, but I can’t eat because it takes me and the self-steering windvane to keep the boat moving. I want to close my eyes and wake up when it’s over, but I get trapped by the The Grey Cloud Carriers for hours and hours. They interrogate me. Call me names. Freeze my body until I confess. Confess what?!

I start confessing to them.

“I confess, I confess. When I was 5, I did steal that baby doll from Hobby Lobby. It only cost 3 cents and I didn’t have that much in my piggy bank. I’m a terrible person. I’m sorry.”

That’s not what The Grey Clouds want to hear. They leave me for a brief moment and come back and throw the sea in my face.

“I confess, I confess. The first time I made love wasn’t beautiful or soft or sweet. In fact, it wasn’t even love, it was winter in the back of a Ford on some dead end street. I’m sorry, I was young and foolish!”

The Grey Clouds don’t care. They close in on my from every direction now.

“I confess, I confess. I have tried almost every hallucinogenic drug, except for toad. What kind of a name for a drug is “toad?” But that was all years ago, now I just get high on meditation and red wine!”

The Grey Clouds grow closer and closer to me and the sea.

“Shit ok, I’ll never drink wine again!”

After I give them all of my dirty laundry, the Grey Clouds lift high into the sky and charge ahead of me. I am surrounded again by golden droplets of light on the water.

There is a proverb:
“When a halo rings the moon or sun
The rain will come upon the run!“

The other night the moon did have a halo. I didn’t realize until today that it was because I was viewing the moon through the ice crystals of a cirrostratus cloud. That indicates an approaching low pressure system and rain. If you see a ring around the sun it indicates the same. Moon halo forecasting is 65% accurate and sun halo forecasting is 75% accurate, according to the U.S. Weather Service.

Anyway, after all of the squalls and rain showers yesterday, I was dizzy and ready to run and hide somewhere away from it all. Somewhere on land with the sand as my pillow, the sun as my blanket, and the smell of flowers in the air. Land! I need land!

Out here there is nowhere to hide. Nothing to run to. Not from the weather and especially not from oneself.

I’m at the mercy of everything: wind, waves, rain, thoughts. All I can do is ride everything out and see where it takes me.

I experimented and found that if I tried to control where the boat was going in the squalls I was worse off positionally than I was before. When I would just let go of the helm, and ride the squall out, it eventually took me to a better wind angle and breeze than I was in before. I just had to be patient.

I realized everything in my life is like this. Normally I am very resistant to change. I see something shifting around me and I’m like “No, no, no don’t change, go back to the way you were before.” When I look back, every instance of forced change in my life took me to a better place. Even though it hurt like hell getting there because I kept trying to “control the helm” and hold on to the way things used to be.

I gotta remember that. The great lesson of The Grey Cloud Carriers, “Just let go and ride it all out.”

I haven’t seen Pluto in days, so this morning I scrubbed the boat clean of his droppings. I figured keeping them on the boat was like holding onto a letter from an unrequited love, plus I could hardly stand the stench of digested fish guts any longer.

Pluto, I will cherish our memories through the rocky nights with a deep fondness. I promise, I’ll never forget you!

Two nights ago, on the evening of the day without wind, the wind came back with full force. I had all of my sails flying and was surfing well with the swell off my stern.

If the wave is faster than the winds ability to push the boat, the boat can not catch the wave and the wave will just flow beneath the boat leaving it behind in its trough. In this instance the boat bounce’s up and down with the waves passing. Rising and falling and rising and falling. It’s a clunky kinda ride.

When the wind is at a decent speed the wave will carry the boat with it for a long ways. It feels like gently floating above the earth. Once that ride is complete the landing is soft and a new wave is just behind it ready to carry the boat even further. Thats how it was all night long.

That night while the rides were hot, the wind had its way with my lazy jib sheet. I had the lazy wrapped around the wrench with a little tension on it to prevent the working sheet from collapsing so much when a wave hit it from its quarter. Whatever that sheet was rubbing on gnawed right into it. I woke up yesterday to it torn in two. As if a dog had chewed ride through it.

I furled the jib and took the other half of the lazy sheet from the cockpit up to the bow. I reunited the line with a reef / square knot. It’s a temporary fix, because this knot can’t be used for anything with a lot of tension but as I’m heading direct to Hawaii now, I shouldn’t have to jibe or rely on it much. It was more just to tidy the half of the line that was tossing about in the wind. Now it looks like I have a Vodou doll dangling in the middle of my lazy sheet.

I’m traveling westward through time and the sun is setting later and later. I don’t know what day of the week it is anymore or the meaning of the numbers on my clocks. Time doesn’t really matter much to me out here. I just keep moving sunrise to sunset.

***If you enjoy these tales from the sea and are not already receiving them directly to your inbox, just go to, scroll to the bottom of any page, enter your email address, and click the button beneath it. I believe it says “sail along.” Then go to your email and click on the confirmation email that WordPress sends to you. Voila, now each post will sail straight to your inbox.

I know I’m close to shore, but this journey will continue. Once on land the humpback whale exploration begins and I will post tales of fiction inspired by my time at sea.

7 Replies to “The Carriers of Grey Clouds”

  1. Olivia so glad you are moving closer and closer
    To your destination, which of The islands ? do you think you will arrive to? You seem to be handling what mother ocean is giving you, you are so brave and we think of you every day. Hope to hear you have arrived soon to your destination, Blessings

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience at sea!!!! I have been enjoying your words and experience so much. I have been praying for you along your journey!!

  3. Olivia, thank you for being my daily entertainment as I read about your journey. Learning alot about sailing which has begun to fascinate me. I am more of a ski boat on a lake kinda gal, but now you’ve peaked my interest in the sailing. Happy travels to you,

  4. I’m digging this non-fiction . . . The Grey Cloud Carriers, Pluto, vulnerability. Brave, brave, brave, brave, brave, brave, brave. I remember one of the first times I met you. I was tipsy on some parents’ looted gin and chain-smoking Marlboro Lights off the last one’s cherry. You called me out on it and I felt exposed . . . a nervous fraud. You were so much cooler than me. I’ve done some pretty cool stuff in the last 23 years or whenever that was, but you’re still cooler than me and that makes me happy because I don’t like change either.

  5. I’ve so enjoyed your journey so far. Thank you for putting yourself out there! Been praying for you too.

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