Sunday, April 15, 2007

Tax Day?

A pint of bleach and a dozen rags, and I can clean anything. Trust me. I just lived through an effluent nightmare. There is a one way valve inside my nemesis, and it’s called a “joker”. It’s aptly named, as it’s the only humor in the whole procedure. I am, of course, referring to the pump I had to dismantle, that evacuates the holding tank. That’s black water. Not so nice. I’ll stop with the details immediately, but suffice to say, it was the worst chore I’ve performed yet on Barraveigh. It was one watermelon seed that was my undoing. Can you believe that? One watermelon seed. We now joke that we need to chew our food a bit better.

Sorry – but you need to know that it isn’t only a life of extroverted sea lions circling the yacht as we sip sundowners with ice. Sometimes the black tip reef sharks appear in the form of a clogged head. But – there really are black tip reef sharks that swim our perimeter hourly. Cool huh!

Prior to writing this dispatch I went back and read the very first one from over 16 months ago. I was at 30 degrees north by 116 west. I’m envious of the later. I’m currently at 90 and won’t reach the Marquesas until I hit 138. I’ve got a long trip just to get back to the westing I had when I left San Diego. We are only 10 days away from the beginning of that voyage. 3000 miles. That’s 3 times the distance we just pasted onto our charts. We are standing on the edge of an abyss called the Pacific Ocean. I will never forget these days.

I also don’t think I will ever forget the level of consciousness one attains when at sea. It’s a level of awareness that I (and I can only speak for myself) never approached when I lived on land. The music that the water makes as it fingers the hull, and what its changing octaves mean in terms of acceleration and heel. I can accurately guess the speed of the vessel within a tenth of a knot from the sound alone (as I lie sleeping, no less). I am deft at spotting the “cat’s paws” on the water, and how to pursue the elusive zephyr. I have a special relationship with the clouds now, when never before did they reveal their intentions to me. I’m a palm reader if you don’t believe, but if you’ve been out here, and lived this existence, than you know it’s not snake oil I’m selling.

My cousin Don recently emailed me and he wrote of planting bird seed millet and getting the corn crop in the ground. He’s the real deal; a farmer in Nebraska. That’s a man that has an intimate relationship with his surroundings and the forces upon them. I’ve spent the majority of my life in cities of over 3 million. And most of those cities never had 4 seasons. I was detached from the rhythms of the wilderness. I was an uninvited gate crasher when I stuck my toes in the big salty to test the waters, and I am just now beginning to feel like I have the playbook for this Sunday’s game. There is a brotherhood between those who depend on the weather. Tonight I’m lifting my drink to the dazzling array of brilliant stars that can only be seen from the outskirts of civilization.

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