Fish Move Like Birds

Breakers. Water. Ocean. Fracture zone. Strong Rippling Observed Here. Lava. South Equatorial Current.

These are the things that I see on my chart for the ocean that surrounds us. Yes sometimes it just says water or ocean, as if next to the water was a mountain or block of ice that meets the water, but there’s not. It’s just water flowing upon water flowing upon water. And it runs deep. Loud oceans run deep.

The Pacific is the deepest ocean. It’s maximum depth is 10,924 meters. They call that Challenger Deep.

I was flat on my belly, in the quarter berth, when we went through the South Equatorial Current of this deep ocean. It felt like floating. Juniper carved the waves as if they were watermelons. Surfing into them without all those up and down seesaw motions she normally has close-hauled. It felt so fun, so free.

Still this point of sail is hard on me. I detest it. I can’t ever rest easy in it. My nerves fire in all directions all the time. I think mostly because it catapults me back to that time we lost that mast. Off Bermuda. Close-hauled on a 30 ft. sailboat in 25 knots of wind. Crack. Steel cables everywhere. Maybe I’ll tell you more about that tomorrow.

Sometimes, out here, I can feel lunar gravity pulling me towards it and creating bulges inside of me. The same way that it does to earth’s water, on the side of earth nearest the moon. When it does this, the moon, I feel like an alien to myself.

And inside I become like the water surrounding the equator, with a mirror image of flow, that creates opposing gyres in my Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

Gyres. Loops. Eddies.

The pressure drops. I fall asleep in flight.

I awake to the sound of something falling down into the companionway. It’s dark. I reach my hand towards the sound. Something cold flaps onto my fingertips. I scream. Josh wakes up, “What is it another fire?” I say, “No, it’s something with wings!” He brings his headlamp over. He says, “Oh I can smell it. I can smell it.”

We move things around searching. Beneath my orange ditch bag we find a big flying fish. We giggle. Pick it up. And toss it back to sea.

At night I always see flying fish flinging themselves out of Juniper’s spray. I love watching that show. The flying fish show.

Out here fish move like birds and birds move like clouds.

Creatures are everywhere. Inside and out. We got winged insects growing out of our heads, flying fish flying into our beds, dolphins spy hopping by our bow, and a cockroach in the galley that I’m still on the hunt for. I put peppermint oil everywhere to make him suffer over that sweet scent.

Waves keep crawling inside Juniper’s cabin too. It’s our fault. We need air. We need breeze. So we leave some portholes open. That’s how the waves find their way in. One slapped Sava while he was sleeping yesterday. All over his bunk. Then this morning, over breakfast, we all got drenched in the cockpit. That same wave came through the companion way hatch and the galley porthole. This time my bunk got it. Everything wet. My pillows. My blanket. My reference books.

Maybe one day my things will dry out.

They guys decided to shower after that. They shower in the sea. They throw a line off the stern and hang tight while they dangle on it with soap suds fizzing around them.

It’s blowing 22 knots, I bet their holding on hard.

Meanwhile, I again became a huntress on the prowl for that cockroach. Cleaning everything. Throwing all cardboard overboard. Sprinkling more peppermint oil in every cabinet and every corner.

I don’t want to see his eyes ever again.

I decided, while doing so, that if my body was made of meridians- which it is, because everything is- and I was divided into latitude and longitude based on my bodies position between the zenith and the nadir, then I would be divided as follows. My latitude would be broken down by body parts; crown of head, forehead, eyes, nose, ears, lips, mouth, neck, heart, arms, stomach, hands, fingers, pelvis, legs, feet, toes.

But my longitude would be divided by what I did with these parts. If the activity is negative it is located closer to the nadir, but positive ones take me closer to the zenith. The possibilities for actions are endless; meditation, observation, speaking without thinking, reading books, reading news, smelling flowers, listening to music, chanting, listening to gossip, singing, screaming, drinking flowers, drinking booze, kissing, speaking truth, speaking lies, dancing, doing nothing, hugging, hiking, sitting on coach, eating potatoes, eating carrots, killing cockroaches, sailing, etc.

Then I realized that I’d better let that cockroach live. Cause I’m trying to keep my longitude high. Hell, I want it right on up there next to the zenith, always.

2 Replies to “Fish Move Like Birds”

  1. A wonderful and insightful metaphor for the geographic coordinate system, Oliwia.
    Aloha nui loa!

  2. Birds, cockroaches, flying fish . . . everyone wants in on the act! Here on Oahu we await our fate as hurricane Douglass bears down on Hawaii. Oahu is in its cross hairs and, as of this writing, the monster will hit as a full-on hurricane. It’s almost as if Juniper would leave no trace behind her.

    In the wake of her departure, mariners on the island of Oahu can now be found sitting around in small groups and speaking in hushed tones over half-finished flasks of rum, marveling at Juniper’s crew’s now legendary — the stuff of folklore! — routing prowess.

    These same weathered mariners eagerly follow Juniper’s progress to Tahiti and offer advice, whispered among themselves. “Best to know your compass,” they say . . . . “The captain surely knows that her compass’ declination at 4-south latitude and 150-west longitude must be 9 degrees east of true north”, murmured one, especially grizzled. I took a long pull from my flask, all the while tracing with my eyes the deep lines etched map-like onto the face of the bearded one directly across from me. I thought to myself, “what is this compass declination stuff . . . “9 degrees east of true north?” As if reading my mind, the bearded one leaned across the table, real close like, and looked me square in the eye, “a true mariner would know what we was takin’ about, now wouldn’t he lad . . . .” grinning, his teeth were blackened and his breath smelled a combination of rotting enamel and cheap rum, with just a hint of banana. I gulped hard . . . and took another swig. “. . . 9 degrees east of true north . . . compass declination?”

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