I found something that I wrote during my voyage from Hawaii to Tahiti. It’s odd how easily I forget the things that I already know.
July 2020 –
“The past couple or days, some hours have drifted by without enough wind to toot a horn. I’m not really in a rush. That’s sailing. That’s life too.
Sometimes you have more wind (or anything) than you want and sometimes you have less. It all boils down to how you handle these moments I think. The goal is to get to the point where, under these less than ideal circumstances, you are in the same state of mind that you are in when you have the exact amount of wind you want. To not let anything “rock your boat” so to speak. “
My boat was rocked the other day. From time to time I come to the realization that I am all alone in the middle of the ocean playing chess with my mortality. And I’ve got checklists running through my head of all the pieces I have to keep on the board just to stay alive. And it is in those moments that I want to do nothing more than run. The thing is, I can’t run. I can’t go anywhere. I have to keep sailing until it’s check mate.
I think this is what I was experiencing the other day, when I was “the pufferfish just before it puffs.” Because not only am I playing this game of chess, but I can’t make a move without the wind. I felt trapped on top of being trapped and I’m running low on supplies and major storm systems pop up out here like dandelions and I could very well die out here. That is the reality of this situation.
I realize darling, that I’m the one who put myself in this predicament. I’m here for a thousand reasons worth that risk. I love sailing. I love nature and all it’s moods. I love being encompassed by the mystique of the ocean- from glamour to gloom. I love overcoming obstacles. I love watching the sun rise and set every day with an unobstructed view. I love seeing the night sky without any light pollution. I love watching the birds go fishing. I love watching the moon grow. I love the way sailing makes my mind move. I love problem solving. I love going inward and connecting deeper with myself. I love the growth that comes from that. I love being on the edge, for it ensures that I will never take anything in life for granted. I love reducing life to its basic needs and being wholly reliant on the the sun and the wind, vulnerability and all.
The truth is, the closer I get to Fiji, the longer I wish I could stay out here. I think a part of me was rushing in the beginning because I was on the water with all these other boats. SV Wilderness and I have been adventuring together for the past two months. I wanted to keep up. I wanted to explore Fiji with them. I heard from them today and they are already sailing onwards from Savusavu. Sailing off, one or two days before I arrive. I might never see them again.
That’s how this sailing world is. It’s a lot of making deep connections fast and getting really good at waving goodbye. I’m not good at the goodbye part yet. I saw an 8-year-old cry when he had to sail away from a group of boys he met only the day before. That’s how it feels. It’s tear-jerking.
Anyway. Today, today. The day is still night. I’m thawing my body out of its deep freeze with long underwear, blankets, and soups. The boat is all rock-and-roll. I’m on a broad reach with wind sitting in the mid twenties and swell on the beam. The swell is pumping, but it’s the size of seahorses compared to the white horses I saw galloping last week near Samoa.
Juniper gets up to 7 knots plus STW through the squalls. Her mast and her keel start shaking and she blasts off and becomes a flying saucer. When she lands, everything soars from one side of the boat to the other, like it always does.
Imagine being a caterpillar on a weak leaf during an earthquake. That’s what it feels like.
The final two or three waves at the tail end of a squall are always the most spirited. They bang the loudest, jump the highest, jolt the boat the wildest. They’re like, “Don’t forget me….promise?”
The sun came out and I am watching the refraction of light through the wind-blown water droplets on the crest of waves. You know how colorful a spider web looks when the sun shines through it? Or how morning dew sits on the grass? That’s how the wave droplets look. A lot of little rainbows.
A wave just crashed over the port side of the boat and into the companionway. It’s the second time today that a wave has come inside to dampen me.
When waves fall onboard, I have decided that it’s a baptism, a kiss, a blessing from the space meteor or comet that those molecules of water fell from. And it makes me feel closer to the frequency of stars. Star water.
That water that just hit me, could be 4 billion years old, it could be forever old. What is forever? Who knows the age of the ocean? Maybe the ocean is the genesis of genesis. Maybe it’s ageless. Think about all the memories something ageless holds.
Memories of; aliens, dinosaurs, Vikings, Polynesian voyagers, Mayans, the ice ages, fallen monarchs, Plato, Neanderthals, dragonflies, Ancient Greeks, volcanic explosions, crystals forming, Ancient Egyptians, Adam & Eve, rainforests rising, Dodo birds, myths, whales, the first sunrise, pink dolphins, astronauts, the birth of every island, Aztecs, Jesus, Buddha, The Old Boy.
What happens to the 70 percent of water in our bodies when we die? Does it find its way back to the ocean through the earth, eventually? Probably. So will it carry our memories too?
I used to think that the interconnecting thread between everything organic was carbon, which is the base of all living organisms. But today I have decided this is not so, today I have decided that everything alive is laced together by water. Water is the life force energy. Water is precious.
The ocean is getting really excited by what I’m writing, either that or it’s pissed that I called the waves the size of sea horses. A waterfall of a wave just poured inside the cabin. Of all the time I’ve spent sailing Juniper, I’ve never seen that much water come inside.
I am passing Zephyr Bank and Hydra Seamount now. When I close my eyes a woman dressed like an opera singer is singing underwater, bubbles rising.
2 Replies to “THE MYSTIQUE OF THE OCEAN”
Thoroughly enjoying your posts, and I read every one. It’s a ~daily escape for me as I sit here doing my work and watching summer wane in the US while reading you write about sailing the same waters as Cook and Bligh. But we all have our course to follow. And as you said, we all charted our own course. Thank God we can change it if we please.
You mentioned a topic from July that reminded me of a tremendous learning moment I had during primary flight training. When I did my first solo flight, my euphoria was interrupted by a brief moment of terrified self-examination. I was alone, in an airplane, thousands of feet above the ground. No instructor now. What went right and what went wrong now was wholly on me. Why did I feel this way? Was I afraid? Was I adequately prepared? Of course I was prepared. And yes I was a little afraid. I’d had the best basic flight training available. And that little bit of fear was what kept me within the limits of my good training. It’s the people who do not have a little bit of fear who do not respect the limitations of their training and equipment. They are the ones who have no inner voice to caution to keep them out of trouble. Trust your voice.
Yes, those molecules of water you’re floating on are likely four billion years old or a little older. And, if my geology professors were correct (and I believe they were), each drop was carried to Earth inside a chunk of meteorite from the stars. I think of that often when floating under a dark, twinkling sky.
Fair winds, following seas and safe travels!
Thanks for another great account of what it is really like to sail oceans in a relatively small, slow boat. I am in a 37′ Pacific Seacraft which is larger and slightly faster, but also perhaps not as stable as your full keel Juniper.
In keeping with my conservative self I am taking a gradual approach to subjecting myself to the whims of the deep (and as you point out, the sometimes shallow) Pacific.
The west coast of Baja, its islands and the Sea of Cortez will be my teacher for a season.
I’ve told myself “I don’t rush for anything anymore” which is hard to live up to, but is a worthy goal as you explained so well.
Water does bind life together – through the underlying, overlaying, to the left, and to the right, in front and behind Omniscient, Cosmic Intelligence, Joy and Love -referred to often as God, Brahma, Spirit and countless other names.
Rabindranath Tagore explains beautifully in his book Sadhana that the road (or in your case the Sea) is the goal. Quoting – “we can look upon a road from two different points of view. One regards it as dividing us from the object of our desire; in that case we count every step of our journey over it as something attained by force in the face of obstruction. The other sees it as the road that leads us to our destination, and as such is part of our goal. It is already the beginning of our attainment, and by journeying over it we can only gain that which in itself it offers to us.”
You seem to realize that, I hope to someday. Sailing seems like a perfect teacher.