Ship Shape

The beauty of life is that everything is always up in the air and with the shape of your lips and thoughts you can change its direction. It’s as if life was the wind and our bodies were boats and our words were sails.

So, what is the shape of your ship? Mine is the shape of the stratosphere and a seashell and a sunbeam. She is my salvation. She keeps me golden. Keeps me gliding through the galactic.

The morning after the lightning storm, the sea was still wobbly and my galaxy was shaking. The boats around me in the Makua anchorage were all metronomes. Keeping time. Losing time. Traveling beyond time. Most of them decided that it was time to weigh anchor and head elsewhere. Another anchorage, another harbor, another something that rocked more gently and didn’t feel so topsy turvy.

Moondrop and I decided it was best to go too. When I went to start the engine, the glow was good, but the starter wouldn’t start. I had enough juice on my batteries, so it wasn’t that. My friend, Steve, taught me to whack the starter with a hammer to get it going. Said the solenoid was sticking. Hitting it with a hammer worked like a charm. Then he told me, “You better replace it, cause a bad solenoid is like a girlfriend who cheats, she does it once, she’ll do it again and again and again.”

He was as sure as the rain is wet about it. Hells bells! I got something else to fix. Never ending, always beginning when it comes to Juniper. But then again, in life, at the end is always the beginning. Right?

The sail back was tough. The wind was coming from the direction I was heading in and it was blowing purple stink all over my face. I was doing big long tacks, putting in reefs, shaking reefs, heeling above a 30-degree angle. I hate heeling over and being close-hauled. That point of sail is always a bone shaker for me. But sometimes you gotta go up to get back down. Right?

In those upwind situations, I give my ship over to God. I close my eyes and listen closely for advice while my heart beats like a woodpecker pecking a hole into wood. With eyes closed I hear, in high fidelity, things like, “Travel down, put up your staysail so you can point higher, reef the jib, breathe, now breathe again, good very good, now tack!”  

Anyway, it was a long day on the water and my autopilot got flooded with saltwater and no longer works and my wheel lock is pretty much shot, so it was just me and Ruby, my self-steering windvane, steering that ship.  And it was taxing and I didn’t sleep so well through the thunder and lightning and rain the night before. So I was plum tuckered to say the least.

I was trying to beat the sun, make it back to the harbor before it dropped.  But I didn’t arrive to the Ala Wai harbor entrance until 12 hours later. And it was well past sunset and long before moonrise, so I couldn’t see much of nothin’.

Before the sun set I did see that the storm had deposited a lot of debris into the water. I passed by logs and couches and shoes and baby doll heads.  After I went up to drop the main there was an invisible fist thumping on Juniper’s hull whenever I turned the helm. I didn’t know if I had run over some piece of the debris or if I had run a person over and they were trying to get my attention. I searched the darkness beneath me but found nothing, no limbs, no flesh. I felt like I was in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Haunted by that thump. I became convinced that I had indeed run someone over. The thump was driving me bananas. What is it?! Ok, I confess! I did it, my name is Mrs. Peacock and I killed Mr. Boddy in the ball room with the candlestick.

All the other ships on the water looked like legos. I felt like I was in some video game but I had forgotten what the buttons did on my control stick.

There I was, staring at that entrance to the channel and the thump was thumping. I steered Juniper through the first channel markers, but they were not lining up with my chart plotter and I couldn’t see the two red lights on shore. That channel has no other lights beyond the first two marks and those shore lights. I could hear the waves hitting the reef, but I couldn’t see jack sh*t and what the hell was thumping beneath me?

I peeled out of the channel and did circles. I made calls. I asked for guidance. I did more circles. I waited for some other ship to lead me through. One came, a small one, blazing fast, gone in a blink, no time to follow. Left me high and dry in lego land with my interior caving. I know too many people who have lived here their whole lives and still wrecked their boats on some reef around these shores.  

My neighbor, Tom, bless his heart, eventually came out on his boat to guide me through the channel. Then he sat me down and said, “Olivia you can do this, you just lack self-confidence.”

That’s the funny thing. You can cross an ocean all by yourself and still lack confidence. Still make mistakes. Still crave the warmth of another human when life feels chaotic.

I want an unshakable spirit. I want to be able to dive down to any fathom all on my own. When I am at the point of needing nothing, I know that I can have everything.  

A few nights later, Tom went out on the water with me and I navigated that channel over and over and over again, until I could do it with one eye open.

In the ocean, it’s good to always have one eye open.  That’s how dolphins and whales sleep, with one eye open and half their brain turned on, so that the sharks can’t get em’.

9 Replies to “Ship Shape”

  1. My first response is MIA!! So glad you made it back safely as hair raising as the outing must have been. I have always heard the two best days of owning a boat are the day you purchase the boat and the day you sell the boat. There is always something to repair. You are continuously learning as you have always been a person to persevere. This is when being OCD is to your advantage. Remember I have always heard a snapping turtle never lets go until lightening strikes.

    1. Thanks mom! Love you 🙂 True, often our perceived disadvantages are blessings in disguise. x

  2. Sailing the oceans all by yourself, you have to be the bravest woman I have never met. And also the most honest. Admitting your fears is the first step to conquering them. Believing in yourself is the second. Platitudes, I know, but you embody them. Be you. Be.

    1. thank you so much rawgod. It’s always terrifying to fully express myself, and I am grateful that you appreciate it and push me to stay in that space of honesty. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  3. Aloha and great story! M?kua Beach was one of my favorites to spend a day swimming and relaxing during my years living on Leeward Oahu. Glad you made it back to port mostly unscathed:). Malama Pono!

  4. Aloha Wayne! Thanks so much for reading and reaching out. It is such a magical spot! Would love to hear your stories from time spent there. 🙂

  5. I think we’re all on shaky ground when we’re staring down something that appears super scary in the pitch-black night with somebody, or something, thumping on the bottom of our boat — maybe a spinner dolphin that followed you all the way back from Makua and was trying to get you to stop so that you’d play with it some more?

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