I was reading from some of my old sailing journals when I came across this entry. It captures so perfectly what it was like to be crossing oceans in a small sailboat with young children, that “wondrously strange” brew of the ordinary and extraordinary mixed together.
The photo is of our landfall at Nuka Hiva in the Marquesas Islands after a 28-day crossing from Mexico. But in the middle of the voyage we had no idea how long it would take or even if we would ever reach the islands. The fact that that mist shrouded green gem rose from the sea exactly where we thought it should rise seemed a miracle.
May 1, 1986, 11° N 123° 40′ W Pacific Ocean
We are flying wing to wing at 6 1/2 knots toward the Marquesas, at last. We’ve been at sea 16 days, since April 16, and are not yet to the half-way mark. Out of 2800 miles we still have 1560 to go.
So far our crossing has been better (physically and mentally) than I imagined. We were all a little sea-sick our 2nd and 3rd day out but have been fine since. We try to live one day at a time (always a good idea) and not think about how long it might take us to reach our destination–especially now when a 40 day crossing seems likely.
Our worst days (and nights) have been during the two rain storms we’ve had so far. The dampness and clamminess of everything is disheartening, and the black, wet night watches uncomfortable. The constant roll and pitch of the boat make the simplest task arduous. Brewing tea can become a chore of maddening dexterity and frustration.
And yet in other ways, life goes on uninterrupted, unperturbed, as if we were still at anchor in San Carlos. Sometimes I sit cuddled with Dale in the dark cockpit surrounded by a stream of sea and stars and marvel at the children’s voices drifting up from the galley, their light banter as they do their nightly dishes amid a dim circle of light. The only light in a thousand miles of darkness.
Then it strikes me as wondrously strange, our few feet of ordinary human activity adrift upon an endless indifferent sea beneath an ocean of stars.
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The glassy surface of the ocean rose up creating a razor-sharp edge as it continuously slipped along beside us, like a wave that never breaks. Watching it, I thought, I never want to be anywhere but here. And, I never want to lose this. I sought to etch it in my mind so it would always be part of me.
She seemed almost as alive to us as the other creatures that she cavorted with, the dolphins that played at her side, the whales that swam beneath and circled her, the flying fish that landed on her decks. Her spirit was all her own. But her breath, her pulse, her beating heart, her life blood, was us, the people who inhabited and cared for her, plotted her course, walked her decks, stroked her beams, and dreamed her dreams.