The Sundance

Sunrise this morning tasted cherry. I swallowed a lot of reds and purples and yellows. After it rose, I closed my eyes and looked up in the direction of the sun.  I like the fluorescent patterns that the sun makes behind my eyelids while the boat dances around.

It’s the greatest abstract art I’ve ever seen. I call it The Sundance.

I needed this moment with the sun this morning. I didn’t sleep much. It was all rock and roll last night. In the middle of it, Sava busted through his lee cloth and got thrown out of his bunk and onto the floor. Josh got attacked by oatmeal that was in a hammock above him. And I have been getting slammed from one wall to the next in the quarter berth as well as getting drenched by waves that climb down the companionway. I currently sleep in a puddle. I think we all do.

The mermen call my berth “the sarcophagus!” I don’t mind it though.

We have fallen off the wind to a beam reach, and it’s a fast and wild ride. On the Beaufort scale, today is a 6. Otherwise known as a strong breeze. That’s 22-27 knots or 25-31 miles per hour winds.

If you drive anywhere today, find a hilly road, stick your head out the window and go down it at that speed. Imagine that the trees are wave crests. Think of larger waves forming, whitecaps everywhere, more spray. Think of a whistling heard in canvas and wires and mind. Think of being rocked back and forth hard in all directions. And think of an unexpected rushing of salt water inside your vessel.

Then think of me.

It feels like the sea is chasing me inside and out. I wonder-still staring with eyes closed at the sun- if maybe the sea wants to wolf me down. Take me to some undertow. Toss me around, give me a tickle, see how squishy I am. Then let its creatures eat me limb for limb?

I open my eyes after I’ve had enough of The Sundance. I’m drenched. Dripping. I’m in the trough of a wave, it towers taller than me. I see the crest of the wave break, ever so slightly, before smashing into me and Juniper. It hits with a thud. Sounds like a hammer pounding into metal and feels like I’ve just been attacked by a bull that’s made of water.

I drip more.

I see 25 knots of wind sustained. And I know that I should be double reefed, but I’m not. Everyone is still sleeping. Even though I’ve reefed one hundred times on my own, if someone is here, I prefer them on deck watching. Just in case the sea does want to eat me, ya know? At least I’ll have a witness. Someone who can tell my story. “Bro, I sailed to Tahiti once and I kid you not, this chick gotten eaten by the ocean! All I saw were bones and foam by the time it was through with her.”

A wave crashes. I’m soaked. Another wave. More wet. More waves.

I drip. I drip. I drip.

I ride out 25 knots with only one reef for a long time. Three hours. The whole time my eyes dart back and forth from sea to instruments to chart plotter. I grip onto the helm.

Josh comes out. I throw in the second reef and pull out a little more jib. We are flying close to 7 knots now. I can smell Tahiti. It smells like coconuts and sharks and French pastries.

My watch ended. I lay down beneath the rainbows in the saloon. Bathe in them. It’s all I have the energy to do.

I’m a little melancholy today. It’s the kind of day where you wanna get lost, but then realize that you already are. And you also realize that there is no way that you could possibly get more lost than this.

I think it’s the exhaustion. The heat. The salt. The puddles. My body slamming into everything. It’s not just me, we all feel this way.

I laid under the rainbows until I remembered why I love being out here, until those thoughts were palpable enough to take me away from the thrashing of today.

Josh just finished baking a new loaf of bread. I said, “Guys lets just eat that whole loaf and see if we can make ourselves feel better.”

They said “yes,” with as much enthusiasm as one can muster under these circumstances.

I’m putting on some elastic pants as we speak.

***Do you have questions for us? Put them in the comments and we can answer them. Is there anything you want me to write about in particular? What do you like. What do you not like. Talk to me.

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9 Replies to “The Sundance”

  1. Questions
    1) are sailboats usually this slow? I seems like you’re going 5-7 miles an hour tops?

    2) are you typing out these amazing blog posts on a phone or laptop? How does it stay dry?!

    3) did you guys sort out all the battery/electrical stuff? Are you guys running as normal or a slightly not ideal state?

    4) are you guys playing any board games like, I dunno, taboo? How do you remain entertained or are you just always doing stuff actively to make sure you stay on course / are dry, etc

    5) any more word on the alien luminescent orbs entering and exiting the ocean? That sounds like a deep mystery.

    6) do you guys wear sunscreen?

    thanks for humoring these questions and sharing such and amazing journey!

  2. Aloha to the group! I enjoy reading all of your entries, informative and poetry in motion. No criticisms from this follower at all! I am curious though about your music entertainment setup… Does Juniper have a built-in sound system or is it a portable setup? Also, do you and your crew mates share similar tastes or take turns playing the DJ? What’s some of your preferences out on the open seas?

  3. My heart is pounding, with fear of the wild ride y’all are taking. I really don’t want to see any of you eaten by the sea. The weather is crazy around with three Hurricanes. One came ashore in Texas this afternoon, another in the Caribbean headed to the gulf, one headed for the Hawaiian islands tonight or early morning. Hopefully the sea will be calm in the morning.
    Love xoxo,

  4. Reading Olivia’s posts every night puts me in a similar frame of mind as when I read Saint-Exupery. Thank you, Olivia.
    It’s so enjoyable to vicariously re-live my own blue water experiences while I follow your offerings. Especially from the comfort of my air conditioned living room easy chair.
    Long distance sailing is no picnic. You’re not sitting around, playing your guitar and sleeping like a baby while the waves gently lap the boat. There is always something that absolutely has to be done. Now! A boat is always trying to sink. The harder you work, the longer it takes. As Captain, you can never totally turn off the switch in your head. Even when sleeping there’s always some level of attention lurking deep inside you. It’s more akin to something psychic than just lightly sleeping. I’ve woken numerous times with a start, feeling some sort of vibe; only to go on deck and see a ship nearby. Twilight Zone? Just coincidence that the ship was there? Who knows?
    It’s stifling inside a boat near the equator that’s all closed up to keep the waves out. Cooking only makes it worse. Just moving from one end of the boat to the other is like climbing a ladder. Being out there is exhausting. After a long time at sea you hallucinate while on deck, alone, at night. As bad as all that is, it’s worth every uncomfortable, unforgettable, awesome moment. Absolutely awe inspiring actually.
    And describing that awesomeness so beautifully is what Olivia brings every night.
    Keep bringing it, Olivia!
    Eddie Bob

  5. When I read you blog, I feel what you feel. I feel the boat lunge through the top of a wave and then land (POW) in the trough, the boat sitting completely still for a moment or two. When the pounding happens the mast shudders and all of its parts vibrate to a non-harmonic rhythm. It gets you right in your teeth, like a bad rear-end fender bender at the intersection of Kavanagh and Cantrell.
    Your blog inspires me. I have reinvigorated my desire to go to Pitcarin, and I picked up one of my books long sitting on the shelf. Nautical Etiquette and History (protocol and customs for long haul sailors) My favorite, [salutes and dipping the ensign] I guess it is sort of hard to dip an ensign double reefed and force 6?

  6. Wet is Neptune’s way of testing your mettle . . . you’ve gotten his attention, he’s accepted your offerings, and now . . . wind, waves, and endless seascape . . . Juniper’s dancing to the music and her humans hold on tight. How more privileged can a person be than to have gotten the attention of Neptune himself? And then, to have Tahiti as your landfall!

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