To Azores Day 5

Saturday, July 29

James’ 12:00-12:30 pm watch: Dena and I talked about people of color in our writing.

James’ 1-4pm watch: I managed to get her nice and balanced on a straight downwind run by over-compensating Lovebot’s angle to windward and Cetacea’s rudder to lee…we’re clipping along at 4.5-5 knots. I can’t complain!

With the clouds

Damn!!! I put a hole in the luff of the mainsail shaking that last reef out…keep an eye on that.

James’ 5-6 pm watch

5:22 pm: People say pics or it doesn’t count. I (Dena) think pics means you didn’t see it.

Only true for some kinds of experiences, I know. Some things hold still for a long time or repeat. Maybe you watched for a while. The Taj Mahal photo James shot is gorgeous and should in no way be taken to mean that he didn’t also just gaze at that with his full focus.

But in this watery realm, only the sky moves that slowly and even there, there’s lightning and birds.

All that to say no, I didn’t get a picture. Here’s what I have.

After three hours of a long off-watch, I took over from James with my head still in a whirl. I forgot that I’d created some people with character. Also at least one caricature that I’m going to have to work on. I’m cautiously pleased to be picking up a manuscript I started years ago for a storyline that won’t leave me alone.

I sat in the cockpit and checked our course on the chartplotter, confirmed that there were no large ships dying to run us down, and shut that shit down. A brace of minutes with my eyes on the waves and the whirl in my brain slowed.

And then a set of waves with an especially ornate set of mini-peaks approached and from them a flurry of flying fish took to the air. As the waves passed me where I sat in the cockpit and as the boat passed through them heading the other way, one particular wavelet rose an extra foot, elongating and thinning to let the afternoon sun shine through.

As the airborne flying fish whirred by and more took to the sky, I saw, in that little backlit wavelet, a flash of fish shape which clarified into a picture perfect view of a single flying fish not flying, one of the few in that moment that was content to watch the rest through the skinny water.


Dena’s 8-9 pm watch

8:38 pm: Having the main and yankee running this morning felt satisfying, like normal sailing. When the wind veered, we needed to go farther downwind and James furled the yankee. The wind lightened and he shook the first reef out. We haven’t seen much of the bottom of that sail on this trip!

On his last shift, he pulled that first reef in the main. On mine, the wind started veering again so we gybed. We’d talked about doing so regardless because it put us on the starboard tack (the port settee is James’ favorite sleeping spot). Beluga prefers that tack too, for his own obscure reasons. I use the vee berth regardless.

It gave us a pretty good heading with Lovebot dialed in to a downwind run. Even Lovebot likes this tack better. It’s developed a limp of sorts where the paddle doesn’t turn as smoothly in one direction as in the other. We get farther off course before it can correct on a port tack, and that’s no good.

Poor machine. Bent frame, worn bronze gears, and rusty stainless because it’s from the 304 grade era…it’s a wonder that it’s done so well for us. This expensive piece of gear isn’t easy to replace though.

We’re going to look at options in the UK and Ireland, but I’m glad we have the tiller pilot in case of Lovebot failure. I wouldn’t trust the electric pilot unsupervised and definitely wouldn’t run it all the time, which means more active watches than the largely supervisory ones we’ve been standing.

Sunday July 30

Dena’s midnight-3 watch

2:21 pm: This is about as perfect as it gets. Enough wind to be well in control, maybe 10 knots, and traveling faster than we’ve done in days, but not so much that big waves are being kicked up.

The nearly full moon is dropping slowly through wispy clouds, veiled and then revealed over and over. Shooting stars salt the soft black and, away from the moon, constellations are simplified by moonlight and easy to identify. Hello, Cassiopeia!

The circumstances couldn’t be better for feeling good, and I do. My tired eyes could use a break from the breeze, but I’m otherwise comfortable.

I’m soft in my attitude, listening to music and slowly, easily letting myself ponder why I’m writing about guilt, reconciliation… Shriving. The method is akin to meditation, a lack of attachment that will allow me to really consider the ideas that arise and hopefully recognize some home truths. If I’m going to complete this in a way that satisfies me, I need to know what I’m looking to have a conversation about.

James’ 3-6 am watch:

…The overnight somnium…moon, stars, growling waves, meteors and…the verse, wow…the morning was a crescendo of reds gold’s yellows and blues exploding off our bow… “sailor take warning!”

Then the seas got big and sloppy. We’re still on a down wind run so Cetacea is in her element. Monitor inspection…

Rig inspection…

Dena’s 6-9 am watch

7:09 am: At 3am, I handed James an orange setting moon and dropped into deep sleep. I dreamed a lot, weird stuff with strangers I had to stand up to or persuade.

After the gorgeous night, some massive dark clouds have formed, seemingly out of nowhere. We got about ten sprinkles and now they seem to be moving north of us to pass. Passing to port, very polite!

I’m not counting on others not to form or these not to create the blue-sky rain that can come off big storm clouds. I’ll keep things closed up a while longer but it’ll get stuffy down there soon!


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