It is raining cats and dogs and they’re getting all hot and heavy with Juniper. I let the rain loosen me. I whistle back at the wind that carries it. Raindrops slide inside my butterflies. I‘m a puddle. Liquid and languid. But the fish, they are flying.

The rain stops. I go to shore with the Wilderness catamaran crew. I find Aroma. I say, “We are here for fishing.” Last night he made me pinky promise that I would be by his side three hours after the sun rose to fish for fish. But in true rockstar fashion, he has forgotten telling me that. He has forgotten most of the night before. He has forgotten, but he keeps his forgotten promise.

Daylight drifts across his shark teeth tattoos as he wraps fishing line around plastic water bottles for each of us. The eyes on his back wink at me. I say, “You ever think that you might make that heavy metal music because you were raised by a lagoon of sharks?” He doesn’t know. He just knows that he likes the power of the shark when it bites.

His families motu has no coconuts, only pines that they planted. We cross the water to the next motu. Coral cracks our feet. It rains more. We limp towards shade. We hunt for hermit crabs. Aroma smashes the shells off them. I see them naked, finally. He breaks their honeys off their heads. He sticks a hook down the middle. I watch, but don’t watch. Just like I do during horror movies.

Our hooks are all alive with hermit crab honey. We stand in the water between motus. We hold our bottles in one hand and swing our lines in forward circles with the other. We toss. We reel. We toss. We catch five grouper. Those are my camouflaged-full-flower-moon-mating fish friends.

We carry them home on a stick. But we never eat them. It’s so tragic. Another boat tells us that this fish is a known fish poison fish. They have seen a lot of people get ciguatera from them. Pressure drop, mild electric shock, burning, vomiting, aching, itching, numbness, loss of skin, and so on.

The Inca say that gold is the sweat the of sun and silver is the tears of the moon. The sun and moon must be making jewels to know the carless damage we have done today to their sister, the sea. Robbing her for nothing.

I fly the pass on the days last incoming tide. It’s a rapid daydream; eagle rays, puffer fish, barracudas, blue trumpets. I fall in love with a yellow-tail fish. They are like clouds licking coral blossoms.

25 plus knots of southeast winds is in the forecast and I must go to Hirifa in the southeast corner of Fakarava. Where there is less fetch and the lagoon is glass.

The wind is already a pipe. I shuffle water out of Daisy, my dinghy. I try to get her onboard but can’t. I think and think and think and I think that I can either use a halyard or let some of her air go and try again. I release her valves and she puffs. I try again. Not without great effort, do I finally get her onboard.

I don’t know what the swimming man did but I can’t get my mooring lines free. I jump in the water. The waves are big and the current is pushing against me on its way out to the ocean’s mouth. I swallow salt and cough as I dive and dive trying to break lines free. I get one, but not the other two. I climb back onboard and go up to the bow with a knife between my lips. I cut the safety. I pull with all my little strength, but can’t get the last one to let go. I want more hands, twenty of them. I try to train the sharks to grab my line and twist it free. I try to wave down a passing dinghy. I fail at everything. I get the mooring ball almost on deck and cut the last line loose.

Oh well, the lines are old anyway.

I follow Wilderness to the southeast anchorage. We drop our hooks. We play cards. We eat fish-less burritos. A little girl decorates me with glitter. I often feel like I’m at burning man, though I’ve never been.

The night is all stars and the wind, is a stampede. My anchor is bump bumping. Juniper drags 100 feet through the sleepless night. I wake up, far away from everything.

On a boat, one must always be alert. It’s as if your standing naked in the elements. And nature can be so very capricious, sometimes. From her hush to her hurricane.

3 Replies to “THE SWEAT OF THE SUN”

  1. I am interested in how much you are compensated for your work on the chartered boats. I am interested in a new purchase and will enlist one or two people to assist in helping me get my sea legs as I am not a seasoned sailor.
    Thanks in advance.

  2. Nice writing as always. Good to have had the encounter with the fish watcher to warn you of the poison! I’ve also felt the dread of harming fish with no positive outcome, eg getting to eat them. My hope for you is that you get a stupidly large anchor and can stay of the dam mooring balls.

  3. “The Inca say that gold is the sweat the of sun and silver is the tears of the moon. The sun and moon must be making jewels to know the carless damage we have done today to their sister, the sea. Robbing her for nothing.”

    Why do we feel entitled to ravage the creatures of the sea?

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