It was a dark and stormy night in the Tropic of Cancer. Drop. The sea was a swirl of water and rain and prayers. Rain. Hard. Like ice. Falling. Drop. Lightening filled the horizon. Flash. More Lightening. Flash. Flash. Flash. All around. Flash. Can’t see. Drenched. Crash. The waves are giants made of blue glass. Crash. Waves upon waves upon waves upon waves. Crash.
As Juniper was flung further into waves that frothed and foamed and grew fangs, I realized that once again death had seduced me into playing a game of gamble. I am soothed by knowing that if I wasn’t comfortable with death, if I wasn’t able to sit down across from him and at least pretend that I was holding a royal flush, then I wouldn’t really be living.
I am soothed by also knowing that if I do die, at least my grave will not be shallow. If I do die, at least my bones will sink into a world of phosphorescence. If I do die, at least I might be reincarnated as an immortal jellyfish, so that I can glow-in-the-dark and grow from old to young and live forever and ever and ever.
But if I do die, my epitaph will read “She was a fool for loving something as heartbreaking and restless as the sea.”
And I don’t want the word “fool” to be in my epitaph. So I find my faith in this salt-covered wilderness and I find it fast. I wrap my arms around the neck of the Goddess that hung the moon and painted the sunsets pink, then I wait for her to sing me sweet, sweet lullabies.
And she does. She sings. She sings like a fisherman singing to lure his fish. She sings, “Hush little sailor don’t say a word. King Neptune’s gonna bring you an albatross bird. And if that albatross bird don’t sing. King Neptune’s gonna bring you a coral ring. And if that coral ring ain’t pink. King Neptune’s gonna bring you some octopus ink. And if that octopus ink don’t float, King Neptune’s gonna by you a brand new boat.”
Her song is sweet and I fall asleep in the pounding of waves and rain, dreaming about that boat. I love Juniper, but after this voyage the new boat sounds as sweet as peaches. So I hope that bird don’t sing and the coral ain’t pink and the ink don’t float. King Neptune, King Neptune, King Neptune, all this sailor wants is a boat that doesn’t leak. A boat that doesn’t leak and can cross an ocean. A boat that doesn’t leak and can cross an ocean and won’t easily fry electrical gear, and ruin all my clothes, and drip salt into my brain.
I’m tired. Tired of being wet. And sneezing. And watching everything I own fall victim to corrosion and rust and mildew and expansion.
A gal can dream about dry and smooth sailing, right?
Anyway, just before the wind got wild and the world got stormy, all was calm. You would have thought we were on a pond. But it was still dark. The blackest black that black can get. We couldn’t see anything. Not our hands in front of our face. Not even the white of another persons eyes. The only things visible was the invisible.
I never did see the moon or a even a star. I saw one bird though. He was not an albatross and I haven’t a clue where he was headed, but he was alone. Hunting for something with scales that he could swallow like slime.
In the eerie calm of the night, Josh and I decided to turn off all the navigation lights and watch the plankton glow green down our wake. It looked as if the sea has a million eyes made of jewels. Every wave, glowing. Every wave, it’s own galaxy. Every wave, a world inside a world, inside another far away world.
After getting lost in that, we decided it was time to look for Thetys Vagina. It’s this blob-like jellyfish thing that looks like a woman’s lady bits. I’m most certain it was discovered and named by a man. We got boobies flying in the sky out here and vaginas bobbing in the water. It’s a man’s world, for sure.
To find the aquatic lady bits, we needed light. We grabbed my spotlight and shined it all across the water. We could see flying fish with their psychedelic-blue wings spread, and squid, and shrimp, and little unidentifiable things skipping across the surface, and a fish that had butterfly-shaped fins and floated all alone. It was magic, all these living things thriving in the darkness. It reminded me of Fantasia… for some reason. Like they were all down there swimming and jumping and gliding along to classical music.
We never did find Thetys Vagina. It’s ok. I know exactly what one looks like.
I don’t know what time the wind went mad, but it did. Absolutely mad. Like the wind had just discovered his wife of a billion years was having an affair with the sun. Could you blame her? Anyway the wind went mad and the storm came down from the sky with hands that tried to strangle us. The raindrops were vicious and shaped like claws. And it was indeed a dark and stormy night.
The weather out here can turn on a dime like that. So can life. This is both the tragic and beautiful thing about life.
This morning the boat looked like a tornado hit it. So many objects had taken flight in the night. The ditch bag and it’s contents all over the floor. Shoes flew to the galley. Fenders here and there. Seashells broken after being slingshot against a wall. A full bottle of rum nearly exploded. Fruits rolling around the ground.
The peaches are long gone. I miss the juice of them running down my lips. But they never would have survived last night. They’re far too delicate of a fruit.
After I cleaned up the mess, today turned into the kind of day that you want to toss behind you and let the wind carry it somewhere far from your memory. Somewhere so far away that all you can remember is yesterday or maybe even the day before. But heavens forbid you remember one lick of today.
This is what happened- the day after the dark and stormy night. The digital voltage reader broke. Upon investigation it was corroded to death and it’s only three months old. This is my boat on salt.
Then I tried to get the analog reader to work properly and I broke it, but it was already broken, so did I really break it? I just broke more of it. Now it certainly won’t work. At least we have the handheld voltage meter.
Next, I went outside for my watch. Exhausted. Hungry. Ready to lay down and write. And the wind went from 8 knots to 30 knots in five minutes flat. I got drenched putting in reefs, dowsing the main, hoisting the main, adding reefs, shaking reefs, rescuing flags.
I’m still wet because nothing I own is dry. And I don’t remember if I brushed my teeth today or not. But there is too much else happening for me to really care.
Then there was the smoke. Puff! Not long past sunset. I’m laying down in the quarter berth. Right next to the electrical panel and right on top of the batteries. I’m there writing this letter to you when all of a sudden I smell it. Smoke. Lots and lots and lots of smoke. And I could see it too, wafting out of the panel. The smoke didn’t even make beautiful shapes and it was brown. It didn’t smell nice like some smoke. It smelled like burnt plastic. I wanted it to smell like sage and parade out like a vine growing down a tree.
But it didn’t.
I yelled, “fire” so the mermen could hear me. Then the mermen came running from opposite directions of the boat. One was on the toilet at the time. I switched off the main DC breaker on the panel and we settled into another dark and stormy night.
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