Sunday, July 1, 2012


Noon Position: 9 27' S, 116 25' W, SOG 4, COG 060, Day's Run 50nm.
There are times you wonder if the wind will ever come back, or if you
are doomed, like some seafaring Tantalus, to roast forever beneath the
blazing tropical sky, teased by patches of rippled water that wander by,
just out of reach. You know the wind will come back, it always does,
but still... You recall stories, horrible stories, of sailing ships
becalmed for weeks in the doldrums, until water runs dry, fresh food
runs out, and when the wind at last returns the scurvy-ridden crew can
barely trim the sails to escape with it. You wonder what the crew of
the helicopter that circles you thinks, seeing you sitting there,
panting in the tiny patch of shade under your tarp, as the wind whips
the shirt sleeves waving out the open door. You wonder what they would
think if they pass over again on their way home and see you sitting
there on the motionless sea, under the same tiny scrap of tarp, reading
the same book, roasting in the same sun. Will they wonder if they've
flown into some sort of time warp, a Bermuda triangle of the pacific?
You swim, you tease the pilot fish, scrub at grass and algae and
insatiable barnacles. You sit and sweat, and swim again, diving down
into the cool shadow of the hull, looking up at the totality of your
world, rolling in the swell. Just for fun you tug at the bow with your
fins, towing it to point North, then kicking hard to tow it to face the
sun, trying to give yourself as much shade as you can when you get back
aboard. By the time you're dried off and looking for shade the boat has
spun again, another cycle in its aimless circle out here on the sea.
You chase the shade, moving from one seat to another, as the sinking
afternoon sun creeps beneath the edges of your canvas. You watch as
rain clouds mushroom up over the sea, thick gray cylinders topped with
white cotton candy, an stationary example of the water cycle at work.
You watch, hopefully, wondering if that cloud is moving, moving towards
you, away from you, it doesn't matter, movement means wind. But the
clouds keep watering their little plots of sea, relentlessly determined
to desalinate their little piece of the Pacific. Finally, just as you
resign yourself to another windless night, the sun sinks below the
horizon and there's something different about the boat, noticeable by
its lack. Then you realize - the main has stopped it's flapping, the
mainsheet has stopped creaking and clanking on the traveller, and the
boat has steadied, quieted. And you go on deck and are greeted by a
breath of cool night air, moving across the sea to brush your cheek. As
you unroll the jib and trim the main the boat gathers way, becoming once
more a living being, awakened from a hot and sullen sleep of creaks and
groans to the almost inaudible gurgle of water along the hull. You knew
the wind would be back, but still, you want to shout for joy, shout for
salvation, "Wind! Wind! The Wind is back!" Still, even as you slide
softly over the sea, you know that next time you will once again wonder
if the wind will come back.

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