Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Noon Position: 6 33' N, 117 12' W, SOG 3.6, COG 030, Day's Run 51nm,
Week's Run 817nm. Yesterday we sailed into what I would term the
beginning of the Doldrums, although my friendly weather forecast would
call the frustrating, hot, cloudy wet day yesterday merely "A LARGE AREA
spent far too much time on deck (changing course and sails with every
squall), with not enough clothing (because of the rain), got far too
much sun (despite the clouds), and finally just rolling around becalmed
through the night. Last night we drifted into what I at first thought
was an immense oil slick, but I soon realized that the sea was carpeted
with tiny specks of something - plankton, jellyfish eggs? who knows?
We were still in them when I woke up at 6 this morning, and the coating
was heavy enough to prevent wind ripples from forming in the light
breeze - we were disconcertingly sailing at 4-5 kts over a sea that
looked like an undulating sea of glass. Any number of feathers floated
by, man-o-war jellyfish large and small, as well as two weird pink
swimming crab-like creatures, that looked vaguely like cross between a
jellyfish, crab, and pink flying fish with wings extended underwater,
which frantically and ineffectually struggled away from the boat. I
started in on my second to last unread paperback, Foucault's Pendulum,
and as the sunrise wind slowly started to dissipate I heard the sound of
breathing from on deck. There were little dolphins all around the boat,
some leaping energetically, some languidly surfacing, but all slowly
passing us. By the time the tail of the group arrived ten minutes later
fifty or sixty must have gone by. I got out my mask and jumped in to
see if any would swim with me, but just like the last time I tried
swimming with dolphins in the doldrums, as soon as I hit the water the
rear-guard scarpered, and I just caught the vaguest impression of a fast
moving shape out of the corner of my eye before they were gone. I did,
however, discover a pilot fish, maybe 8 inches long, hiding behind the
rudder. From underwater the plankton cloud was even more noticeable, a
haze extending through the top foot of the water column. Instead of
diving with dolphins I decided to battle with barnacles, which despite
the thorough scraping I gave the boat just a few weeks ago had already
come back in force. I climbed back aboard and rigged lines from bow to
stern to give me something to brace against while scrubbing and got out
my scrapers and scrubbers. While I was cleaning Odyssey's accompanying
guard of fish multiplied - first I noticed a little finger-sized pilot
fish who followed me around, curious what this strange creature was
doing, while his larger sibling still shyly tried to keep the keel or
rudder between us. Soon he was joined by two equally diminutive fish,
one small and blue, the other skinny and brown, that looked like it
might be a tiny remora or some sort of sucker-fish. By the time I got
out the breeze was slowly coming back, and another bigger pilot fish had
arrived, and seemed to be involved in some sort of territorial dispute
with my original escort. Back on deck, I saw lithe black bodies leaping
on the horizon - the dolphins hadn't gone far. We're now sloowly
drifting downwind, and I'm sitting in the shade of the spinnaker on the
bow typing, as the only vaguely comfortable spot on the boat. A few
minutes ago a small pod of whales passed me on the eastern horizon,
heading south, blowing and spouting spray.

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