The sea is a bitter brew today. Sunless. Wind squalls. Frigid. Rain squalls. Gray. Head squalls. Lifeless. Body squalls. The swell is a touch smaller, but I’m still getting bounced around. Now I know for certain what a pinball feels like inside of it’s machine. At the squalls crescendo, the gusts fast fly me across the crest of waves and my boat leaks and screams. I clocked her torpedoing 9 knots through one storm, but on average I’m doing 5.5 knots. As of 11:30 AM today, I’m at 18°9.396’S 175°1.523’E. That’s 120 NM for day one.

The squalls are always fleeting and I end up just spilling air from my sails till they blow over. I realize now, far too late in life, that I must do this with my emotions too. Sit alone and spill my air until they subside. I tend to want to give them expression and make them known.

My friends on Complicity just sailed past me. Can you believe it? In this whole great wide ocean they found me! I’m ecstatic. They sailed right up to me, so close I could see the sun-kiss of their young Australian faces and we waved at each other between the blue. She’s a paramedic, he’s a mechanic, and they have a cat onboard, Coco. They left the pass two hours after me and average 7 knots, I’m all lit up over the fact that it took them more than a day to catch me.

Now their at home on the horizon and I’m the slowest poke in the fleet. But I’m in no real rush for this journey to end. I like the sink and fall of it all, besides I can only go as fast and as far as the wind lets me. Also I sort of feel like if I stay at sea long enough I’ll become a true siren, I get strange powers out here and I like them, but I don’t know how to keep them on shore. I don’t know how to keep anything on shore; even myself, even my moxie, even my song.

Maybe I should get a boat pet like everybody else has. Something that can make me laugh or help me with the sails or tell jokes to me. Either a bearded dragon or a monkey or a parrot. They all sounds nice right about now. Maybe I should get all three. Can you imagine? Biosecurity wouldn’t know what to do with me. When I lived in Rockaway Beach I had small petting zoo. A gazillion plants and creatures; a bird, 6 fire-bellied newts, a pink cat, a hat-hating dog, 2 turtles, 5 fish. Dang, I sound like Dr. Seuss or Dr. Doolittle or Dr. Dog. Did I already tell you all of this before? Oh well, now you know again.

Sometimes, I miss the balance and ease of life on land. I’ve been thinking lately to spend half my year on land somewhere and half my year at sea. I don’t know where that somewhere is just yet. Somewhere with rainforests and waves and horses and fruit trees. Just not a desert, the sea is far too much like a desert. All the things growing in both places look like they could also thrive on Mars.

I woke every 30 minutes last night to look for ships. The one I saw off my bow on my first look out, was off my stern by the next and it stayed there all night. It’s a big old thing, big enough to have a ballroom and a pool, but it’s not coming up on my AIS. I can’t explain it. It has no name. It has no known course. It’s in front of me, then behind me, and always at the same steady distance and when the sun rises, poof, she vanishes into salted mist. She’s my mystery ghost ship. I’ll call her Cleopatra.

In the deepest spell of night the clouds cracked open and I saw the moon and her stars and the dripping radiance of the Milky Way. I got lost in the magnetic zing of it all for a long while. After that I allowed myself to sleep until morning. No alarms. No watch. No dreams. Just sleep.

I’ve spent most of the day sleeping too. If I’m not in the cockpit adjusting the sails, I’m on the settee sleeping, or in the galley pigging out on junk food. I could fall asleep again right now or pop a few pieces of candy in my mouth. The next time you see me I’ll be fat, but we’ll rested. It’s like I’ve overdosed on the sea’s tonic. Actually I think it’s more that the sea makes you feel all the feels, you couldn’t escape yourself out here if you tried, and I happen to be in the midst of my life’s winter. I’ve endured a lot of change and loss in the past four months, so much that I haven’t even told you about. It’s like every time I turned my head something in my life was different or gone. I think I need this deep sleep on the ocean to kill all the crows chewing up my heart.

You know what my biggest fear is out here? Hitting something. So many things end up lost at sea- like containers, or airplanes, or comets, or horses. Yes, horses! A friend was anchored of an island in Fiji and saw a dead horse float by! Anyway, I could hit something and bang my life would become bones, and I have to ask myself right here and now if there is some part of me that is turned on by the risk of all this? Or is it just that the center of me exists in the middle of the sea and I have to come out here to find me? I don’t know the answer. Feel free to analyze me, darling.

Oh, before I go, if you see any mermen send them this way please. Oh, and tell the squalls if they back off then they can have the map to my treasure. Oh, and tell all your ancestors to invite me aboard the Cleopatra ghost ship for a ball or a swim or a game of cards or whatever they fancy.


3 Replies to “A BITTER BREW”

  1. Oh my!!! Glad you made it through the squalls. I am sure they are not the last. Hang on tight and don’t hit anything in the vast sea.

  2. Hi, Olivia! I always am so moved by your writing; your openness, honesty — sharing the rawness of your life experiences! I think I’d say my biggest fear at sea would be hitting things, too. Followed by dismasting. I just listened to a sailing podcast about these sorts of things. I also totally get it about enduring so much change and loss in such a short period of time. At times, I feel like I just don’t know how much more of it I can take. At the breaking point, often, it seems. Like I’m stuck in a rip tide, in the midst of it all, and though I try my hardest to get out of it, metaphorically swimming sideways/parallel to shore, I still get sucked further and further out to sea. I’ve come to realize that perhaps the safety of shore is only just a myth and that being pulled out to sea isn’t malevolent at all, rather benevolent and where I’m called to go. Maybe, just maybe. Thank you for your updates and sharing your heart with us — you are a true siren, indeed! Stay safe!🩷🌞⛵️

  3. P. S. I am reading Sterling Hayden’s ‘Wanderer’ now — remember the quote from his book that you had included in your blog so long ago?

    “ What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention from the sheer idiocy of the charade.

    The years thunder by. The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

    Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?”

    Sterling Hayden

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