Sunday, November 8, 2015
Sunday, November 1, 2015
30 OCT 2015 – 0615hrs
First light hung over the African coast as we approached Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.
We had seen the moon rise over Africa the night before: a deep ochre egg, streaked with clouds. It was not quite full, as if something had glanced over it and shaved off a bit. But it was still huge, and potent; illuminating the deck like a giant spotlight.
The next morning I was up for dawn patrol, and watched the peachy pink of first light paint the eastern sky like a rainbow: bands of pink, pale yellow, goldenrod, cornflower blue, blending into the raven night sky ... blotting out Venus, which just moments before had been so bright; and defining the silhouette of Isla Fuerteventura, now far astern.
Still a dozen miles out of Gran Canaria, the luminous blur we had seen all night came into focus, as thousands of pinpricks of light materialized on our bow.
In truth, I approached Las Palmas facing aft (east), entranced with the promise of the new day.
It took a whole hour for the sun to appear – from its first pale awakening, to a crescent of neon light that blushed the underbellies of the clouds, and painted the sea milky white. You could see the sun had already risen to the east, as the distant sky turned bluebonnet: their day had begun.
And finally, at last, a shard of light burst over the horizon, announcing our new day.
Sunrise takes so long, and yet sunset always seems so quick, so sudden.
One minute it is day, the next – night.
So it is in life.
I am still grieving the loss of my dear friend Sue, who passed away so suddenly. One moment her light still glimmered; the next – gone.
I am reminded of two things: firstly, we are spiritual beings, having a human experience. Her light still burns, but not in a concrete way. I need to keep my eyes open, to the unseen.
Secondly, a favorite essay, from Eduardo Galeano:
A man from the town of Negua, on the coast of Columbia, could climb into the sky.
On his return, he described his trip. He told how he had contemplated human life from on high. He said we are a sea of tiny flames.
“The world,” he revealed, “is a heap of people, a sea of tiny flames.”
Each person shines with his or her own light. No two flames are alike. There are big flames and little flames, flames of every color. Some people’s flames are so still they don’t even flicker in the wind, while others have wild flames that fill the air with sparks. Some foolish flames neither burn nor shed light, but others blaze with life so fiercely that you can’t look at them without blinking and if you approach, you shine in fire.” — from Eduardo Galeano’s “Book of Embraces”
Monday, October 26, 2015
23 Oct 0100
A sail change kills an hour, most welcome at 1am.
EL GATO has some new sail inventory, so we experiment with our debutants, to determine the optimal conditions, angles and speed. “Stella” (every sail has a name, and this one – a sunflower yellow asymmetrical kite with a white star in the middle) has been floundering as the breeze has gone right, forcing us to head further west than desired. Annie and I get her down – this involves locating and running all the proper lines, in the pitch dark, making sure nothing’s foul, all while clipped onto jacklines that run across the boat aft, and up to the bow. Annie goes up to the bow, I alternately watch the sail, and the glow of her red headlamp, to make sure she’s still onboard. We snuff Stella, ease her down onto the deck, and jibe the main – all very measured and controlled; then determine we can unfurl “Gordo” (the fat Genoa) on this board, and commence that process.
Unlike racing, where everything is rushed (and you have a larger crew) every action is measured and cautious. Then we assess vmg, and settle in.
It’s odd what you can do in the middle of the night. Annie’s not sleepy yet, so she reads a book – ADRIFT – taking a break from the various manuals and tutorials. I clean up the dinner dishes, popping out on deck every 10 minutes to check the sails and traffic. One lone container ship passes astern 3nm; there’s a great deal more traffic going in and out of Casablanca, but we’re well outside of the shipping lanes so that’s moot.
23 Oct 645pm
Finally I slept a sweet peaceful slumber, not the fitful sleep of crazy boat dreams. I snuggled up across my bunk, leaned on my mountain of pillows and read, then closed my eyes, listening to gentle music. The motion of the boat was so calm, it felt like we were at the dock. The sky dull, making my otherwise bright cabin dark enough - I took a long lazy nap, until 530, when I roused to get ready for watch.
The sky is whitewashed gray, the water flat. It is sprinkling. Annie is making oatmeal cookies. I’m on deck til 9, but will find time to make some dinner in that time.
We have been following a pretty simple watch of three hours on, six hours off. With just three of us, it works well – no-one get stuck with the same watch. When Lewie joins us in the Canaries, we’ll mix it up.
I’ve done several watch schedules – 2 on at night, 3 at dusk and dawn, 4 during the day. 2 at night, 6 during the day. Or a straight 2 on, 2 off. And so on. Even so, we have tried to coordinate meals so we have at least one common (hot) meal ... today we decided to try to make lunch our ‘big’ meal of the day, and we did: we had curried chicken with rice and veggies. But then we had happy hour snacks ... and made pizzas for our dinner ... and Annie made cookies ... FAIL! We have all eaten tons of food – it seems a common theme on boats – which is good, I suppose. It means the sh*t isn’t hitting the fan. Sometimes you just need to eat, and sleep, in preparation for those times when eating (urp!) and sleeping (chaos) is impossible. But so far, that’s not our issue. We are just pigs!