March 11, 2019
Another night, another blog entry! Tonight was poetry night on Charm and I was inspired by one of my favorite poets, Billy Collins, to think about the juxtaposition of me, the writer, and you, my Reader.
We are probably both fixated on bright little screens at the moment. For your sake, I hope yours is far larger than mine. And that yours isn’t so bright that it is killing your night vision so you can’t see anything beyond the instrument panel in front of you.
Conveniently, we probably both have the same lack of concern about ships on the horizon since I’m going to make a reasonable assumption that you, like me, are not in a shipping lane nor are you particularly worried about other boats of any kind appearing in the middle of the Pacific. Neither of us is greatly preoccupied by fishermen or pirates at the moment.
I would hope that you could glance over your left shoulder and see the lovely contrails of the boat’s wake, accented with sparkles of bioluminescent glitter. Oops, enough glancing. That sudden rush of wind on my left shoulder reminded us that we need to look away from the screen and push some buttons to keep ourselves on course and doing the things that are really important.
So, before I started thinking about you, Gentle Reader, I was thinking about banana bread. More specifically, the fact that I can be sitting here in the cockpit of our sailboat, 1,796 nautical miles from the Marquesas Islands, and have banana bread baking in the oven. While many people believe we are adventurous people, I don’t know if a real adventure includes the baking of banana bread?
I have a friend that did a horse race in Mongolia. I think she rode for about 9 days on native Mongol ponies, following a mail delivery route from the era of Genghis Khan, with her only supplies what she could carry or glean from the land or people who lived there. She slept in yerts and ate whatever they gave her to eat, which I believe consisted mainly of the parts of the goat that they couldn’t sell to others. I may have some of the details wrong, but the point is, this was clearly an adventure!
At some level, I guess “true” adventure (as opposed to fake adventure?) requires a certain level of discomfort outside the normal realm. Greater, for example, than the current brightness of this phone’s screen is causing me.
Don’t get me wrong- sailing can be very uncomfortable. Every time I walk past the starboard head and encounter the ineradicable odor of stale pee that has haunted me since we bought the boat, I experience a high level of discomfort. And when (as just happened), the boat is surfing down a wave in the dark and it feels as if it will spin right off the wave into a gybe, regardless of my vigorous autopilot steering, that also causes a level of anxiety that is unpleasant.
Often it’s hot and stuffy inside because we have to keep the windows shut or get waves in the face while napping (happened to John just yesterday), bugs can be an issue although, oddly, we don’t get fruit flies, even in port), and staying on top of mold growth can be taxing.
There is, of course, seasickness, and if, like Joe, you choose to sail in the North Pacific in the winter, there are freezing temperatures, sea spray that is literally icy cold, and constantly wet clothing.
But all that aside, when the boat was cruising along, with the balmy winds blowing my hair out of my face, the stars and bioluminescence mirroring each other, the water hissing and sizzling over the bows as we skimmed along, and with fresh baked banana bread on the table? The moments between the adventure? That needs another name.
Good night, Dear Reader, and may you also have fair winds and banana bread, all at the same time!