Maritime Bifurcation

I can't think of the word 'bifurcation' without laughing. A couple years ago, my dad wrote the family and other selected friends an email … a quasi-random string of events and thoughts strung into story that had us positively rolling.

To paraphrase, Dad was on one of his road trips through Ohio, headed south toward Pickerington when he got derailed by a Cracker Barrel (a common occurrence) and then ended up going back in the opposite direction along the highway toward Toledo for many miles before he realized what was going on. For some reason, the demarcation of two adult bookshops at each of the points where he turned around made it in to the story.

As he reroutes the car, he starts thinking more deeply on the concept of bifurcating – of having the opportunity to go one way or another – and came up with a book title, A Fractal Tour of Ohio: A Bifurcation Thru America's Heartland.He even had a supplemental chapter planned – Bifurcation Games to Play While Driving.His mind must have wandered for some time and pretty deeply in to the concept of bifurcation, because the next thing he knew, there was a huge explosion causing him to think the back left part of his car had blown up. Though it turned out to just be a truck tire, the scare ended his thinking of bifurcation, and as he recounts, "I decided to drive the straight and narrow for a while."

I don't know if it would have made Dad proud or not, but I bifurcated a bit today on the boat. I didn't mean to, honestly, and it was a quick happenstance wherein the First Mate had me grab the wheel of the boat so he could run down and fix a water issue. I've only ever steered the boat once (at night on flat seas), and in my defense I had spent the last two days keeled over the backside of the boat sick.

Luckily, the backside of the boat didn't seem to blow off as it had in my dad's story.

What did happen was thatI didn't keep the wind on the beam of the boat, and the boom (the main sail) swung over to the other side of the boat with a pretty cataclysmic BANG. Effectively, little old me had turned the boat around 180 degrees. Impressive, right?A good display of bifurcation in the middle of the South Atlantic, if I do say so myself.

What ensued was an hour and then some lesson on steering, navigation and wind direction from the first mate… and not only do I have more confidence now in my directional capabilities while in a choppy sea, but I have the sore biceps to prove it.

It made me giggle today to think about what book my Dad could have written on bifurcating while at sea, and even though I can't write him to ask, I'm pretty sure he would have had a field day coming up with games to play while dodging ships, tacking and route planning... he would have invariably gone through the center of the gyre as we did to take the scenic way around things. Too bad there's no "mom and pop pie shop" along the way to placate our desire for yummy goodness down the road less traveled. (Or, maybe we should finally use that pumpkin in the back of the boat to make pie!)

All intended and unintended varieties of bifurcating aside, we're moving right along in the direction of Uruguay! The wind - though it stalls quite a bit - is currently kicking over 20 knots. AND we passed a ship this evening - the first sign of other humans we've seen in over 2 weeks. Approximate landing date is February 5th (potentially the 4th), but we're getting used to slapping a good ol' "ish" on the end of everything definite. Getting closer...


  1. Of course, I was laughing even before I started reading! You made your dad proud for sure. It's always good to be part of a teachable moment...even at sea. XO Mamasita

  2. If you really want to do this trip Dad style, there are several Holiday Inn Express locations in South America. Looks like Buenos Aires will be the closes one when you hit land.