The puffy clouds grow high all around. They look like people. They are my television. I see a giant, his knees are bent and his hands rest, palms up, upon them. There is a bird in his left hand. The bird sings the giant a song, “la-da-da-da-de, you are a human but I thought you were a tree.”
I am traveling north. The wind is too north of east. I need it to be more east. I need to be more east. Every wind forecast I checked called for an east to even slightly south east wind. I can’t trust anything anymore.
I’m almost back to the pins on my chart plotter that I set on my way to Tahiti from Hawaii. I’ve been trying to get to Ahe since then. It’s funny to back track.
Timing is everything. When it’s right, it will happen and it’s never right when you wish it to be right. We have to let go and allow. To be ok with wherever we are, before we can get to the place we wish we were.
I’m thinking about tacking back south. I’m thinking about not tacking and entering the island chain from the north. I’m thinking about a lot of things. Like my life. Like my mistakes. Like how I’m gonna be different in my future. Letting the ocean cleanse me of my past. Feeding it all my wounds. Sending subtle vibrations into the sun.
Papaya seeds cover the cabin floor. Everything is all slick and sweet. The fruit hammocks provide a hard life at sea. I must eat the fruit, but as always, I have no hunger out here.
Everything flutters and flows in this strong breeze. I am grateful that the swell is small. And that Juniper is, for the most part, dry. She drips here and over there, in small places everywhere, but nothing like before.
Being wet is the cost of my freedom and I’ve learned to make peace with it. It’s all worth it. It’s all worth this. This feeling I have right now, out here. Nothing else matters. I am lost without my little shell, my little ecosystem, my little sailing home.
I am reading again about navigating through the Tuamotus. My book says, “They are called the low and dangerous Archipelago” because they’re only visible when a vessel is within 8 miles. The motus (islets) are surrounded by reefs and bare awash coral and the “sound of the wind and sea often masks the sound of breakers.” The book warns not to “underestimate the dangers of these waters… the increased number of yachts lost and stranded on the reefs attests to the hazards.”
Dear mother ocean, please give me the wisdom of the whale to navigate these motus!
I just went to shake the second reef and put in the first, but my first reef line broke along the way. I’m bummed because that reef is my main squeeze, but oh well, at least I still have the second reef.
Around 11 am, I decide to tack, but it didn’t provide a good enough angle so we tacked back. When I tack, I always tack the hydrovane, Ruby, and the helm at the same time.
For a long while after the tack my sails were in balance, but Juniper kept rounding up. I tried furling in my head sail to no avail. I noticed that Ruby was hard over like she was fighting to hold course. I tried more with the sails, nothing. Finally, after three hours, I realized that when I tacked back, I forgot to tack Ruby back. No wonder Juniper was rounding up, Ruby was just doing her job, it was a total operator error. This operator makes many errors.
I will not beat my little sailing home into the wind. I will flow the direction it is taking us. We will keep heading north. We will stop in Tikehau first. We will get to Ahe next. The wind will shift and all will be perfect. But I am scared to enter the lagoons without a guide.
Brianna and I decide that a man named Juan, will be waiting for us at the entrance to the lagoon to show us the way in. Why Juan? We don’t know. That’s just the first name that came to us.
Tonight, the bolts of lightening are a brilliance of flashing zigs and zags. They are closer than the night before. Coming from all directions.
My depth sounder keeps going off. It’s alarming beep is in unison with the flashes. Beep. Beep. Beep. Flash. Beep. Beep.
Cold winds blow from a black thunderhead to my east. I watch it eat the moon. Everything is dark. It is coming towards me. I fall off course to go around it. I am frightened of it. It’s black heart encroaches no matter which way I steer.
Oh no, oh no, oh no, it is here. It is above me. Winds well above 30. I wake Brianna up. We furl the jib. Something big is dangling in the water off of port side. It is my solar panel and the bar that holds it to the boat. A bolt came loose and everything is overboard. We pick it up. We lash it down.
Brianna wants to sleep, “Let’s fix it tomorrow.” But I must fix it tonight. That bar serves as a lifeline in the cockpit. It is a safety issue that can not be ignored.
I break out my tools and my fastener box. I don’t have the right size bolt. But I rig something together. I put a longer bolt in. I put on a washer and then a nut and tighten it down. The bolt is so long that it sticks way out, so I take a bunch more washers and pile them on, then I put a cap nut on the end it of it all. So it doesn’t poke us, so nothing gets caught on it, so it is secure. It looks super cool actually. I might do all the bolts on the solar panel bars like this.
The storm passes, I furl the jib out and head back to the only course I can.