The squalls have been doing us dirty and right now there ain’t enough wind to blow a dandelion seed.
Sometimes, when there is light wind, I feel like a ballerina in a box. You open me up and inside I’m just be twirling circles with arms and legs stuck in the same position. Rotating around and around and around. Like an echo that echoes an echo. There’s a looping melody that moves me. It’s on repeat and it begins to annoy you. And there’s a mirror behind me too, so that you can see your eyes reflected in my backdrop. And seeing yourself behind me, makes you feel better about your own axis in life. When you close my lid you wonder how I got trapped inside such a windless place and you’d make sure that it never happened to you.
I expected the wind to stay in the high teens / twenties until we got closer to latitude zero. That’s what my weather router said, but after four days of hair-whipping and rip-roaring sailing- with two reefs in the main, the staysail, and a reefed jib- we got next to no wind and we’re motoring.
It is important for me not to want more from the wind or life or someone else than they are able to give. To only desire the pieces of them which they make available to me, to be appreciative of those pieces, and to expect nothing always. Great expectations can be the death of everything.
Yesterday, at sunset, we saw something we didn’t expect. Dolphins! They were riding every wave. Jumping around the bow, off port, off starboard, everywhere. They were singing too. I saw two of them swimming and leaping out of the water in unison, over and over and over. I liked them. I think they were sisters.
The water and wind was still rough when we saw them. We thought about how amazing it was that the state of the ocean doesn’t effect the dolphins. They were out there playing in conditions that would make a lot of humans puke.
After sunset we got a lot of rain from squalls and we were cruising fast too. I held my face up to the raindrops falling from the sky. With mouth open and tongue out. It felt good. All that saltless water on my dirty, salty, face.
Around 3 am the wind started playing peek-a-boo and hide-and-seek and sardines with us. It shifted so many directions that we got all sorts of confused. Josh was on watch. He woke me up to tell me we were headed too far west. I asked how long it had shifted for. He said an hour.
I asked this question because my biggest lesson on my crossing to Hawaii was to hold your horses when a squall comes and shifts things around. Don’t tack. Don’t jibe. Do nothing. Just let the squall pass, then see where the wind is at. From my experience, squalls typically and temporarily shift you the direction they are heading. Once they’re gone, your right back where you started from.
Any squall passing us now is moving from east to west, so it makes sense that we were heading too far west. Anyway, I was groggy and it looked like the squall had done it’s deed, so I agreed that we should tack. It was a mess trying to tack Juniper in the shifty winds and totally pointless. Twenty minutes later the wind was back to its original direction and we were back on the port tack we had been on since leaving Hawai’i.
Then, this morning, the wind was deader than dead. I shook a reef and a flying fish fell out of the mainsail. It stunk to high heaven. I tried to find something in the air to capture but nothing was there.
So we started motoring along. We spotted a fishing net with a geo locator on it. There was a seabird sitting right on top of it and two seabirds fighting above it in the sky.
The guys said the aquatic life would be epic around it. They jumped in with fins and masks to see what was shaking down there.
Josh screamed, “We got sharks down here!” They both love sharks. I didn’t want to get in with the sharks. Not one bit. But they said I would be a fool to miss the view. Then they promised to protect me. So I jumped in.
There were more fish than water down there. We saw ono (wahoo), silky sharks, mahi, yellow tail hamachi and big eye travally. Lots and lots and lots of each of them.
Josh said that the yellow tail hamachi isn’t even a pelagic fish. After hitching rides far from shore, and breeding far from home, they have become an invasive species in the open ocean.
We all started licking our lips over the plethora of fish, so Josh grabbed his speargun. Shwoooo. He speared an ono. Within seconds, a gang of twenty sharks circled up to our feast with teeth glistening. They bit. They ripped. They demolished our ono before we could even get it onboard.
Josh went back down to try and spear another one. Again he got an Ono. Again the sharks attacked. They snatched our ono right off the spears shaft. Savages!
Most sharks are opportunistic. Hunting something that’s already bleeding and helpless, isn’t even really hunting. Sharks seem less frightening knowing this about them.
We spent the afternoon drifting, showering, and drying all the wet pieces of our lives. Pillows, clothes, the log book, foulies, cushions, our bodies, our brains, etc. It looked like we were having a yard sale out in the middle of the sea. Sava said it wasn’t just any old yard sale, it was a yard sale form the 1970s.
Mostly because I went through my closet again to see what I could hang on the lifelines. Everything was starting to mold. So I took it all out. Every little bit of it. And a lot of it’s floral-print vintage.
I found my flamingo costume at the bottom of the closet. Dripping wet. I’ve been a flamingo the past four years for Halloween. Costumes remind me of my dad.
One time, during college, I went home for a visit. I was in the car with my dad. We came to a stop light. He reached into the glovebox and pulled out a red clown nose. Then he placed it over his nose and kept looking ahead. I asked, “What are you doing?” I don’t remember exactly what he said, but something like, “Playing around, just act normal.” Shortly after, I heard laughter coming from the car next to us. They had spotted my dad and were pointing at us as they cracked up.
When the light turned green, my dad smiled, took the nose off, and put it back into the glovebox. There were other costumes in that glovebox too. A pig nose, wigs, etc.
It felt like I had just discovered a secret about my father. How could I have been in my twenties and never have known these little games that he played with the rest of the world. It shouldn’t have been so surprising, I suppose. Before I was born, my dad loved performing in musicals. And he can sing any song you give him and play every instrument, even ones that he’s never seen before.
I never got to see my dad on stage and I loved seeing this side of him. The side of him that turned his Toyota into a theater. I loved it so much that I went out and bought him a gift for his glovebox. It‘s an Irish hat that has bright red hair hanging beneath it. I think they call it a “Fat Albert” hat.
I hope my dad wears that hat at stoplights sometimes. And I hope that the cars next to him laugh. And I hope that their laughter makes my dad smile as soon as the light turns green. And I hope that he thinks of me as he tucks his prop back into his glovebox.
*Photo by Sava Bien