1.07.2011

I'm on a boat.

January 5th. Simon, Sarah, Megan and I are lined up on the starboard side of the boat, seated and slightly gangly-oriented over a load of sheets and lines, slack-jawed and staring at the sunset of our lives. Bright hues of magenta and orange reflect like an oil slick and run toward where we sit on the boat, refracted by the shadows of 100 seabirds fishing for delicacies in the evening light. It's ocean for as far as we can see.

"You know, it's funny," Megan says, "that we're sitting here staring out at the ocean when it's all we're going to see for the next 30 days."

Insert irony, of the scene 180 degrees behind us - a mix of shipping containers, barges, oilrigs and merchant buildings. The exhaust from smoke stacks lining the harbour rises in to the sky and mingles with the approaching night. Smaller yachts and boats at anchor bob up and down in the harbour of Walvis Bay, Namibia. Slightly pink like alpenglow in the Rockies, dunes of the Kalahari Desert loom with authority behind the city.

Translation: it's the last sight of land we'll have for quite some time, and yet none of us can tear ourselves away from looking out over the endless ocean, brilliant sunset, and the impending adventure.

It's really emotional, and I struggle in the moment to find words to adequately capture what I'm feeling... why I'm so excited to go see something so tragic... why I'd like to live on a boat for a month when I'm claustrophobic... and etcetera on with the how's and why's and I wonders. So far, I've just got Polaroid moments of feeling coming through - inspriation, creativity, exhilaration, discovery, humanity, cleansing, collecting.

That said, there are some things I HAVE figured out already... like a whole sort of sailing euphemisms. After several tours through the deck and down below with both Stiv - my colleague with 5 Gyres - and Clive - the Skipper - I've found myself between states of half-smirking to full on giggling as I finally understand the consequences of NOT "battening the hatches!" or why folks have been wishing for us to "have the wind at your back." I even got a proper run at "swabbing the deck" in today! It's fun to infuse all the new vocabulary - and to date, it's all functional and not as much swearing as one might imagine from a bunch of sailors.

In addition to the sailing tutorials and orientations to the research we'll be conducting at sea (more to come on that in the next post), it's been just nice to settle in, unpack, and make some sense out of "home" for the next month. My bunk is a long swath of blue canvas loosely strung between two bars about 3 feet wide. There are fabric walls to the bed that wrap up around and strap over us in case of high seas. Much of the aft (back) area of the boat is a produce locker at the moment, and it's fragrant of pineapples, passion fruit, and oranges. All of my stuff is in a milk carton type box, strapped in with a buckle to the wall.

It's really quite a hoot to get down all the systems on the boat – the toilet included, and I'm fairly confident there will be a concise and emotionally-loaded post about that at some point in the future!

One last dinner in port this evening, and we'll shove off toward St. Helena. I'll most likely stay up to watch the land fade away from view and in to the darkness of night, then grab a quick nap before my night watch from 10pm – 2am.

2 comments:

  1. well darlin', I would offer to trade, but I think you might laugh at me. Your sunsets and seas make me think of warmer places and friends...and I miss you, and them. Have an...adventure. And remember most adventures are merely inconveniences rightly understood. Besos from the Karakorum.

    c

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  2. Your descriptions of what you are feeling and experiencing are wonderful! I didn't know you were such a talented writer.
    You won't regret taking the time to write it all down. It will be a treasure to look back on through out your life. So just keep writing and sharing, as there are many more adventures to come. You know how much we love and appreciate all of the beautiful writing that Jonny left for us. I read them often, including that last unforgetable letter that he wrote to you. And I can't help but think that Jonny's spirit is right there along side of you, protecting you and cheering you on.
    Much love to you. xoxo
    Phyllis

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