Thursday, April 2, 2009

From s/v Circadia

Thursday, April 2, 2009, Day 11
Noon PDST : 9 degrees 45 minutes N, 125 degrees, 43 minutes W
Distance traveled: 1286 nm

It's getting hotter and hotter. I live in my bikini, covered up with a white shirt when I have to stand at the wheel, in the searing sun. Sometimes I stand with my feet in a bucket of seawater, to keep them from feeling like they are baking in a convection oven.
When I get bored I time the flights of flying fish, which scatter at our bow wave. They shoot out of the water and veer and skip above the waves before re-entering, sometimes clumsily, doing a little flip before righting themselves and swimming off. The record so far is 9 seconds.
It's been days since we've seen any other ship. It's hard to describe how empty it is. Any sign of life seems lush. From time to time Masked Boobies or White-tailed Tropicbirds circle the boat. The other night around midnight a group of about ten dolphins swam with us for a while. I like to imagine that they are as entertained to find us as we are to see them-something fun to play with, after miles and miles of nothing. From the bow we could follow the braided paths of their movement, each animal cloaked in bioluminescence.
The days and nights flow into one another, each much like the one before. We spend about 6 hours a day at the wheel, though we sometimes let the autopilot take over for a while. (In order to run the autopilot we have to run the engine about an hour every second day, to top up the batteries, though the solar panels also contribute).
I find it helpful to think of the many hours at the wheel as a job. (At any rate, best not to think of it as a holiday). It also helps that I am reading Caroline Anderson's Bounty, a detailed account of Captain Bligh and his crew's ordeal, including a 3600 mile voyage in open launch through the Great Barrier Reef and Endeavor Strait to Timor. The good news is that the Circadia crew doesn't look like they're going to mutiny. Tavish and Farlyn, experienced seafarers despite their young age, are ever cheerful, helpful, and calm in tough situations. The other day we shredded our big blue spinnaker-lines flying, fabric splitting, pieces blowing off downwind. Tavish was quickly up the mast in a harness to untangle fouled lines, Farlyn up and down between deck and below to handle lines and to stuff the tattered fragments back into its bag. We're sorry to see it in such a sad state. It's carried us a lot of miles.
Yesterday one of Tavish and Farlyn's prize lures, bought in Cabo, finally hooked a fish-a skipjack tuna. If you see a tuna fresh out of the water you will never think of tuna sandwiches in the same way. First, it's back is streaked with midnight blue, the sides are abalone, but shimmering as they suffuse blue, violet, pink. The belly has racing stripes and the body itself looks like it was designed by Italians: sleek, efficient, and stylish. The pectoral fins when not in use lie pressed completely flush against the sides, in grooves which bear their exact imprint, including delicate veining; just in front of the tail a series of little fins or scutes create turbulence which increases swimming speed. But best of all is that it is delicious, which is a good thing as we will be eating it for several days.

1 comment:

Julie Zickefoose said...

Oh Oh Oh this is great writing, Alison Watt. I hope you got some photos of that tuna with its grooves, Ninja stars and midnight blue streaks.

i have been wondering about the nothingness, and how that would play out.

A wandering seabird must seem like a friendly neighbor come to visit, holding a pie.