THIS SALTWATER DRUG

“When a halo rings the moon or sun, the rain will come upon the run.”

Ice crystals cloaked last nights moon, creating a rainbow halo around it that was big enough to house a million wild horses. Squalls squatted on the horizon like trolls just beyond it.

Mercurial microbursts came and went, blowing wind then sucking it away. Shifting my seashell in sinuous motions upon the sea.

When the last one passed, leaving me with no breeze to blow in, I furled the jib, and hardened the main, setting the boat to drift.

I don’t know how long I slept for. My alarm never did rouse me, but when I woke the moon was still high and there was enough wind for motion.

It’s gonna be dangerous if my alarm doesn’t wake me in a few days time. There are obstacles in the waters up ahead; islands, atolls, sunken volcanoes, banks, fishermen, fire, seamounts, mother, cargo supply ships, whales, sailors, dreams, Polynesian gods, rituals, coconuts, high fronts, and I’m gonna be sailing among it all like a ghost ship.

The sun is getting my batteries up to 12.8 during the day, with only my instruments on, but through the night they are dropping back down to 12.4. I lost the use of my engine on the way to Hawaii too. I will navigate as I did then, with all instruments off except for once or twice a day when I need to jibe or to verify course.

I will soon switch into my 20 minute sleep cycle for night time too. This should get rather interesting. I’m still barely sleeping or eating much anyway. I truly think this is an effect of my ocean high and that I’m just still coming down. This saltwater drug will do strange things to you.

Today wind has come and gone. Main up. Main down. Main up. It’s here now. 10 knots true. I’m moving so soft and slow and smooth. Tranquil.

After sailing into that sea of giants, these past two days of slow sailing are welcome, but admittedly maddening at some points.

My sea safari is honeycombed by atmospheric extremes. High. Low.

It’s my 14th day at sea. I can feel a cold wind blowing from not too far away. Maybe Tonga. Feels like things might freshen from here. I’m wrapped in a Rasta-colored Mexican blanket out in the cockpit. Laying here long-eyed and staring at a sun-silvered sea. Thinking about mistakes I’ve made out here… everywhere. Thinking about how I can stay evergreen. Thinking about this deal my dad made with God.

I don’t think I made this up. I’m pretty sure that my dad went deep sea fishing somewhere in the south and the sea was so savage and heartless that day that he made a deal with God. The swap was that if my dad got back to shore alive, he promised that he would never, ever, under any circumstances, ever, return to the deep sea again. And he never has.

You know what is really special. Even though my dad has seen the rage of ocean and vowed never to enter it again, when I made up my mind to cross the North Pacific alone, he was the first person in my family to support my decision. I asked how he could be so calm about it compared to everybody else. He said something along the lines of, “Because I know that you know what your doing and I think you are prepared for it.”

I’m crying so much right now that I sound like an island of seals. I can see me and my dad in a helicopter together, the sacred Black Hills of the Lakota beneath us. I am young. Everyone else was too afraid to go up into the sky, but he went up there with me.

I can’t stop thinking about my family and how I miss them. I can’t stop thinking about all the water and asphalt and clouds between us.

The ocean has a way of bringing one to their knees. Entering it is a gamble and I don’t know if you can truly ever prepare for the mystery, the bewilderment, the seduction of it. Some days feel like the brewing of a Voodoo spell. Some days feel like the passion of lips against lips locked in a kiss. Some days feel like the slide or an avalanche. Some days feel like spring time in the lotus kingdom, perfume and all. Some days feel like the rebellion of oblivion.

Out here, I am the sting of a jellyfish, the spirit of a dolphin, the disguise of an octopus, the wisdom of a whale.

The only other boat still on the water is 22 South. Though they have already passed Fiji, it’s comforting to know that they are out here sailing beneath the same sky.

I don’t care when I arrive anymore. I have no control over it and I am happier not to rush. Plus so much is gained and garnered from being at the mercy of the wind. There is a lot to the sailing experience that motor-sailors miss.

A boat will move in 10 knots, it just takes work and constant fiddling, and of course the boat will never move as fast as you would like it to. But THIS IS SAILING.

My only fear is that the longer I am out here, the more risk there is for things to go wrong, for bad weather to rise, for an unwanted surprise. I don’t want to bury my bones out here.

7 Replies to “THIS SALTWATER DRUG”

  1. olivia… first rule, learned the hard way… when in doubt, always tack offshore.
    you will be safe. you have finally crossed over to the other side. the transition ( swinging your head 180) is nearly complete and forever you will be one with the idea of the ocean. the schedule no longer matters. you know now what really matters. actually brought tears to match yours.
    thank you
    barry

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  2. Dad did make a pact to never go deep sea fishing again. Hasn’t stopped any other ocean voyages and sailing excursions. Loved checking the tracker this morning to see the progress. Some sound sleep will do wonders for your spirit.
    Xoxo, mom

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  3. Never made a pact with God to save my bacon, but did make such a pact with myself; which I broke the next day. Akin to getting back on the horse. In my case it was to get back in a sick single engine airplane and continue on solo from Tarawa to Honiara en-route to Australia.
    A few things that cause low oil pressure; 1) low oil level. You’ve already ticked that box. 2) worn bearings, which means the engine won’t last much longer. In your case, since the engine hasn’t digested itself, you can probably rule that out. 3) over heating. Unless I missed you reporting it, you’ve inspected pretty much everything regarding overheating, except the mixing elbow where the cooling water and exhaust come together. Those get carbon and/or rust in them and restrict the cooling water flow. In your case, you can’t easily see the water flow exiting the boat, so instead, look for what looks like light smoke; which is actually steam. Had to take my mixing elbow apart between Hawaii and California as we motored 1,000 miles across the Pacific High. A partially restricted elbow will allow you to use the engine for short periods before any overheating damage is done, which will get you into port. My recommendation is to have a look inside that mixing elbow when you have an opportunity. You’re doing a good job taking care of yourself and your boat. Keep it up. Bucky Fuller once told me (I was his pilot) that when a man leaves the surface of the earth (i.e. sailing/flying) he really has to think, as that’s not where we evolved. Your thinking seems sound, albeit a little weird, (in an endearing/creative way) so eventually you’ll get to port with a smile on your face.

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  4. oooops . . . strike the “peachy” wx forecast inbound Suva. . . might be gusts to 30 through the Laus . . . Ni sa bula!! Thanks for sharing this voyage with the rest of us . . . impressive that you’ve got the extra reserve to post these updates every day.

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  5. Olivia, So inspiring to read your blog, I think of you often and sometimes wish I could do what you are doing!!! I love hearing your adventures and your fears and emotions and concerns. You are in my prayers for your safe return and safe arrival in Fiji…look forward to the coconut and the smiling faces. I just returned from Sundance it was amazing and wonderful and hard…my fifth year. Good Sailing hope the wind picks up for you. Sending love and hugs xoxo

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