My mystery ghost ship is back. Cleopatra! She is off my port bow, holding steady with me as I go. Nobody aboard has invited me to swim in the pool yet, but the sky is black and moaning and raindropping anyway, so I couldn’t go even if they asked. I set my sails for the squalls and lay down with my PFD (personal flotation device) still on. My body shakes and shivers. It’s freezing out. I can’t feel my toes. This is winter in the Southern Hemisphere and I’m in the midst of a cold front! I wrap myself in a gold and purple Mexican blanket. I don’t set an alarm. I want to sleep all night. I want the boat to guide herself to our new home. As I drift into moon-dust, I wonder where Cleopatra comes from. I wonder how many angels are lost at sea. I wonder if anything happens without reason.

It’s some hour before dawn. It must have been rough out last night because my back is aching and the bells inside my boat are dinging. I’m in a bad mood. I could sleep forever more. I clip onto my tether and step out into the cockpit. There are salt crystals the size of pebbles caked onto the exposed parts of my life, though I suppose living on a boat all of my life is exposed. The air is thick with a wild wonder.

Cleopatra is still there, right where she always was and there are no clouds in the sky. Behind me the sky is dripping spring, it’s turning from black to grey to purple to peach. The sea is eggplant. Cleopatra evaporates into the red rising sun. After two days without it, the sight of sunrise is a spiritual experience and I look at it with full devotion.

The wind is light. l shake out the jib and the main and turtle around the ocean. I see another sailboat behind my port stern maybe 6 NM away. They look like they’re headed where I’m headed. They don’t show up on AIS either. I think it’s Complicity. I text them on satellite and give them my coordinates. They don’t give me their coordinates, they just say “Last night was rough.” I don’t dare tell them I slept the entire night and have no idea what they are talking about.

I get out my monocular. That boat looks just like Complicity. Same sail covers and everything. I bet it’s them. Maybe they’re embarrassed to say so, because how on in tarnation am I in front of them again?

I see birds and flying fish and rainbows and sun glitter in every direction. Life is alive. I feel alive. This is the swirl. The boat is barely moving- there is only 10 knots of wind- and I’m still on a close reach, but who cares, because this is a fairytale kind of day and the swell has dropped down to six feet. I clean up my cabin and make a veggie bean burrito. While I’m making it the wind kicks up a touch and I’m running back and forth between the galley and the cockpit to manage it all.

It’s more challenging to sail when the wind is light. The boat needs constant small adjustments to keep her trucking. Also I’m a bit lazy. I’ll sit and watch the world a while before I shake a reef, because a drop of change in wind could be due to a lurking squall and if I move too fast I might regret it. This is a lesson for me. Beyond the boat- in life and chess and love, I must not move too fast. I must sit and observe it all for a while, then make a move.

I think I cooked with an old onion. You know how on onion sounds when the knife is slicing through it? Well this one didn’t have that crisp sound and I cooked with it anyway. I’ve been in the bathroom more than usual- I’ll spare you the rest of the details. If it wasn’t the onion, maybe it’s all that saltwater I accidentally drank when the swell was up in my face and shoving itself into my mouth.

It’s 11:30 AM. I check my days progress. I’m at 18°27.240’S 173°0.622’E and I’ve only made 117 NM. That’s three nautical miles less than the day before, with an of average of 4.8 NM per hour. I’d move faster and adjust my sails more often if another body was onboard, but there ain’t nobody but this body.

I have a few issues. The first is power. I need more power. Always! At sun drop I’m having to turn everything off except my navigation lights. My batteries are only six months old. I have more solar than ever and the same amount of amp hours as before. The second is that my lee cloth is breaking in two places. That’s the canvas running vertical along my bunk to keep me from flying in the air like somebody on a bucking bronco. The third is that I bought a bunch of fruit and vegetables and cheese before leaving Fiji because I don’t know what Tanna is like, but I assume it’s a food desert, and I just realized that I don’t have time to eat it all and customs is going to take it away. What a waste! The fourth is that the starter button on my engine has lost its mojo. I have to press it long and hard to get any action. I haven’t turned my engine on since I left Fiji.

It’s 4 PM. The wind is still light. A voice inside my head said, “Double reef your mainsail now!” I don’t move. It screams, “Do it now!” People always look at me like I have an alligator on my head ask me what I mean when I say a voice inside my head. Well that’s what I mean! And no I am not mental. There is a voice in my head that commands me to do things, I think it’s God. It’s always been there and it’s not me, I mean the voice doesn’t talk like I talk and it doesn’t sound like what it sounds like when I think. And I always regret it when I don’t listen to that voice and I’m always rewarded when I do.

Did I tell you about the time I had iodine in my bag? It had been in my bag for seven years, since my journey to Thailand. I was about to get on a flight and that voice told me to remove the iodine from my bag. I didn’t listen because I’m stubborn and what does a voice know about my life anyway. Well I got on that plane and the iodine leaked everywhere and ruined my laptop. Now I always listen to THAT VOICE!

Anyway, so I listen and I go throw in the second reef and ten minutes later the wind kicks up to 25 knots. Technically I don’t need a second reef at that wind speed, but the voice knows that I hate heeling over hard on a close reach and that second reef keeps my boat more flat to the water. I love that voice. That voice loves me too. Do you have a guiding voice?

The squall is gone and the wind is doing it’s confused clock flutter that it does when it’s dying or changing direction. It drives me bananas to keep the boat in motion when it acts like this. Ten minutes later and the wind is filling in east of south. Now I’m on a broad reach baby!

Have you ever noticed that somethings in life come in different colors and flavors, but have the same aftertaste? Maybe everything has the same aftertaste? Anyway, I realized why I come to sea, because it unearths me. Here I am! Unearth me. Unearth me.

2 Replies to “UNEARTH ME”

  1. I wonder what ship Cleopatra was! And, yes, I, too, have a guiding voice and when I’ve chosen to ignore it in the past, results have not been favorable either! I always listen now, no doubt! I also love what you wrote about not moving too fast and just observing— I really need to do this! I’m always reacting to hastily to situations and then I get myself all jamboned up. I’m so happy the wind has shifted so you can sail on a broad reach — I know you like that point of sail better! Love your posts and so look forward to them each day while you’re at sea! I like to save reading them, as a treat for myself, when my day is done and I’m all tucked in for the night — then, I can dream about my own adventures at sea one day! Thank you for all of the incredible inspiration! ❤️⛵️ (Hope you don’t mind all of my silly ramblings in reply to your posts! I just want you to know how much I appreciate your writing!)

  2. The “sleep” thing when you’re solo sailing — you nailed it. So impressed with the way that you are sharing the depth of your introspection . . . “the purging” that solo sailors, especially, experience. Great adventure!

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