“Hand me my camera so I can get a photo of you in that outfit. It’s on the nav station and I don’t want to move.”
It’s not laziness that led me to make this request, not really. It’s more that I was almost warm and didn’t want to disturb the bubble of reasonable temperature that enveloped me here in what I call my hovel, a messy area on the settee complete with a selection of blankets and pillows. Yesterday, when I wasn’t cooking over a blessedly hot stove, I spent the entire day sitting here. All the things I did were done from this few square feet of space, covered in 100% spun polyester blankets, the only things that feel dry on the entire boat. Right now, natural fibers suck. Literally. They suck moisture from the air making us feel not just cold, but wet as well.
I keep the vision of my blessed children encircled once more by my loving momma’s arms firmly in the foreground of my mind to keep the feeling of chumpness for leaving Hawaii at bay. (Since they are both well into adulthood this vision is fleeting at best, but I need to believe my suffering has meaning. Just let me have this without judging, ‘kay?)
I know what you’re thinking: cry me a river, right? Well if you had seen this morning what we awoke to as the daily watery dawn crept in you would be more sympathetic to our plight. Grey gnarly seas, grey skies, even the air is grey. Yesterday we were visited by whales. They were grey. Grey grey grey. Not a blue hue anywhere. Mold has started to take hold on the inside of our dodger from the constant dampness. The mold? It is grey.
The boat was so rolly last night that over time my polar fleece bottom sheet worked its way completely off the mattress and I woke to find it wadded up under my feet. My hair, never my best asset in the morning, looked like a small rodent had made its burrow on my head and claimed it for its own. Honestly if the boat keeps this up my pillow will wear the hair right off of my head due to chafing; like those babies left on their backs in their cribs for too long, I predict the development of a bald spot.
Mike was in the cockpit because he can bear it up there. He had on my foulies, a thick wool sweater, his hiking boots to keep his feet warm, and I handed up his wool cap; an old friend that was a welcome touch to his increasingly heavy, grey ensemble. Today he added his sailing jacket. What’s next? Gloves? I tell you the last few days have given my daydreams of sailing in higher latitudes a bit of a challenge as the reality of cold sinks into my bones.
People who have been on board Galapagos will remember that we have a diesel heater and may wonder why we are not using it. The answer lies in the installation of said heater, which was on the boat when we bought it, a fact which I mention so you will know we were not in charge of that installation. In a word, if there is any wind the installation is worthless. Wind above 10 knots is likely to blow out the flame because someone called ‘Charlie Noble’ is the wrong Charlie for the task. Yesterday Mike did his darndest to get that stove going, only to fill the cabin with choking diesel smoke. A smoke filled cabin is not a good look when you are still 800 miles from land. So we have no heat to speak of unless we keep the oven going. Running the engine charges batteries and heats up the cabin and heats water for us, but we refuse to make way with the engine at this point so other than charging batteries because solar panels don’t do well in fog, it feels wasteful. So we layer on th e
clothes and count the days until we are back in summer temperatures. We understand that the interior of Washington state has finally found its summer legs. Too bad by the time we get there my summer legs will be as of the whiteness of lilies again.
In other news, apparently 17 days is about how long it takes my psychological walls of compartmentalization to begin to crack. Looking back at my journal from the passage to Hawaii, during that passage also day 17 was the day I had a moment of panicky realization. I wrote previously on the blog about how I manage to be this far from everything land based by not thinking too hard about that and focusing on the tasks in front of me. It’s not that I don’t know where I am or that I don’t realize how isolated we are. It’s that it does no good to dwell on that when there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. I have to find a way to stick it out and stay mentally strong. Being 1500 miles from the nearest coastline is not a place to allow weakmindedness to creep in.
Yesterday I felt the first rift in those walls as a mild panic crept into my awareness. I could almost see water trickling through openings in the mental dams I have built to be able to embrace the greatness of passage making. We still have about 6 days to go and suddenly that felt like a very long time to be out here. Suddenly the cold water surrounding the boat felt deadly, the sea a malevolent force. I knew I better not allow that feeling to take hold. It wouldn’t do to go down that rabbit hole of dread. It’s ugly down there, with monsters.
These moments remind me of when I was pregnant with Andrew. One day I was resting and had the sudden overwhelming feeling that my body had been taken over by an alien. I was so close to having a real panic over that. Of course what I should have realized was that the baby was a boy, so that’s why it felt alien. But what I did to cope was to take a nap. It worked and I awoke with completely loving feelings toward the little being who kept me up at night.
Armed with that experience and others like it, yesterday I did the natural thing and took a long and impressive nap. There’s a piece of advice there for all the Covid 19 shut ins. When things feel overwhelming a good nap is just the thing. In the past I have been nap avoidant, but out here I have nothing more interesting going on. I awoke in a better frame of mind ready to greet the next week and get this passage under out belt.
Less than a week to go if we can stay away from the light wind areas that are emerging. We are trying to outrun them but we shall see. Our winds have been a little stiffer than we are used to but we are sailing well and really clocking the miles. I’ve got a nice potato leek fish chowder for supper, big chunks of Dorado surrounded by creamy goodness. And a beauty of a loaf of sourdough bread I made yesterday. I have a lovely sourdough starter that has been sitting collecting Wild Pacific yeast over the course of thousands of sea miles. I call it Yeast of Eden (TM, maybe?) Hit me up for some when you see us. We will be the ones with all the clothes on.
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