OC*EA.N’ South HE*AV.EN’ West

1 a.m. The moon is a lemon smile masqueraded by wine-colored cumulus clouds. I’m trying to make something of the wind. I ease the sails. I harden them. I ease them. Sometimes when I ease the main, I can hear it exhale, as if it’s been holding it’s breath, more than a century, for the rush of air.

The wind is so delicate and the swell so colossal that I can often only move north or south. West is a euphoric state that I need the drug of a breeze to obtain.

2 a.m. My batteries are low. I just started the engine, and the oil pressure warning light came on again. I killed the engine. I’m not running it until I know why that light is coming on. I don’t have enough power to keep the running lights and instruments on, so I’ve turned them off. I only have the anchor light on now. I look like a slow shooting star out here.

Don’t get jealous but I made like 50 NM yesterday. Haha! Since 6 am. It’s gonna be a 70 NM day, if even. Oh my lord. Wind I miss you. Come back honey. I don’t care what kind of mood you’re in, I’ll take you any way I can get you. Baby girl gotta be in Fiji in 7 days so she can work and save up to buy a bigger boat!

I could say screw the job, and just keep sailing and writing to you every day. I don’t need to stop on shore. Anybody want to sponsor me to do that? I’d do it. I’d just keep going. I’d take you around all the capes. I’d stop at all the little places where no planes go and describe them to you. I’d radio fishermen and trade them my seashells and spiders for fresh food and fuel.

A gal can dream right?

3 a.m. I’m trying to sleep. I just closed my eyes. I see a clown looking in a mirror and putting on makeup. Of all the visions I’ve ever had behind closed eyes, this is the absolute most bizarre. What the heck does this message mean? Am I to stop searching for the wind and become a clown? I’ve never thought of that as a profession, but it’s in my highest good to do so, I’ll do it. Or maybe it means, the whole world views me as a clown for being out here, alone like this, trying to capture the wind. Or maybe I’m looking so haggard, the message means that I should spend some time in the mirror and spruce up with a little makeup, because my face is scaring the wind away.

I’ll do just about anything for the wind right now. Wind, you want lipstick, eyeshadow, blush? All of it? You got it, honey!

I apologize if watching my tracker is as entertaining as a turtle race. I’m debating strapping a school or flying fish to the bow of Juniper to see how fast and far they can fly me. That will spice this voyage up. We could start casting bets then. We could give each of the fish names and sing songs about them, like we do for Santa’s reindeers. Isn’t one of the reindeers named Comet? Did I make that up? We’ll have to steal that name for one of the fish in the fleet of flying fish. Clementine could be another one. I just love that name. Maybe they’ll all have names that start with a C. Oh, but then one will be called Elvis and he’ll be the leader, the Rudolph, the special fish of all the fish. What makes him special? All the flying fishes wings will glow neon green, like a firefly, but Elvis’s wings will glow neon pink and he will get drunk on salt and sing sea shanties about the moon and mermaids and sea monsters as he flies.

If you didn’t think that I was weird before, now you must really know so. Shhhh. Let’s keep that secret between us. Let’s pinky promise, swap spit, and draw blood over that secret.

5:30 a.m. I am awoken by the sound of the sails whipping back and forth. So little wind. I’m hand steering. Finding what wind I can. Doing whatever I can with it.

6:15 a.m. I’ve hung the Coconut Wind Goddess back up. I got scared and took her down after she instantly had me surrounded by squalls the other day. But if the only wind out here is in those squalls, bring the squalls on sister!

7:00 a.m. I messaged the other boats. They’re all a handful of days away from Fiji and I can’t even bare to look at their coordinates. All my mojo would shrivel up on the vine to know how far along they are. I stopped sharing my coordinates with them, for the same reason. When they ask for my position, I write things like OC*EA.N’ South HE*AV.EN’ West.

Anyway, I finally told the other boats the truth about the night of the gale. I said, “Y’all I thought my 38 year old rigging was going down that night. I was getting prepared for wherever life was taking me next. I grabbed my ditch bag, cans of food from the holes where the spiders live, and my best party dress. I was ready to roll into that life raft.” I also told them about my goal of being the “Slowest Sailor On Earth.”

Captain Brandon on S/V Wilderness wrote back, “I can see your picture on the cover of Cruising World magazine now… “Mastering the art of slow. How one sailor ditched the speed for Barnacle farming at sea.” Or maybe “Engine maintenance at sea. How one woman found her way while going nowhere.”

8:45 a.m. Wind speed 3 knots. Boat speed 0. Direction, East. What in tarnation! I could go for a couple of bottles of rum right about now. I’m almost certain days like these are why sailors become alcoholics.

It’s interesting how the wind circles around like a confused cuckoo clock when it is either disappearing or approaching. It’s winding around all over the place right now. I’m an hour without any minutes.

I just dropped the main. I’m a bottle again. It’s hard on the rig without wind, everything bashing around. Too much wind and too little, thats a way to break something. That’s how I broke the lazy jacks. I think I already told you this, but I miss my lazy jacks, it’s a real workout to hoist and drop and reef the sails without them. I miss being lazy, Jack.

9:30 a.m. I feel wind. I‘m going up on deck to hoist.

10:00 a.m. False alarm. Main was up and thrashing. Dropped again. But the sun is shinning. A spinner dolphin just jumped out of the water with a fluttering twist. I see schools of fish slivering beneath me. I see Pluto circling me with a love-binding spell. I see the shadow of Juniper across the surface of the ocean. Life is quite mystical!

There are squalls ahead of me on the horizon. They have wind. Maybe I should motor to them? Oh but the engine has a problem. I will cross my fingers and turn it on, and see what happens.

10:30 a.m. The oil light popped on briefly then turned off. I’m going for it. I’m keeping this engine on. I’m charging these batteries and motoring towards the squalls.

11:00 a.m. I found wind. Killing the engine. Back in a flash.

11:30 a.m. I’m back. Full jib and single reefed main are up. 5 knots of apparent wind and I’m moving at 4 knots SOG (speed over ground). Not too shabby!

Now I need to sleep and eat and sleep some more. And tomorrow I will tell you all about the mystery of the oil pressure light. If you like. Or perhaps that’s boring. In which case we can talk about the hole in the sky that lets all the rainbows in.

6 Replies to “OC*EA.N’ South HE*AV.EN’ West”

  1. we are sitting on Taveuni reading your writings under the same-ish sky, and its like I’m there. Loving your poetry and feeling how it is. Reminded of my old captain Steve who would crank the engine in a panic every time we dropped under 5 knots. I like your way better. Hope to meet over a pineapple soon

  2. Please please please tell us the story of the oil light. It is so vital to the nature of the nature of the nature of the story. Woman against elements, woman against machine, it is such an integral part of the weaving of all these things together.

  3. Can we do a kickstarter or something to get you some solar panels, slightly bigger batteries and an electric motor so you’re always at some minimum speed running directly off the sun’s energy? (Wind is awesome but it’s indirect solar power, so is burning diesel — that’s stored solar energy)… 🙂

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