I have now experienced countless moments in the last month where I’ve said to myself, “I need to write about this.” I’ve struggled to find time and energy to write, and the moments I’ve found are bullied by my desire for perfection in my writing. Part of the preparation to move to the boat full time was backing up my computer should it be damaged at sea. In the process, I uncovered my writing from years past; from when I had time to write and the energy to stay up all night if I so chose. There are wonderful pieces, just sitting in the cloud for nobody to read, yet after moving aboard, my pride in my youthful writings been overshadowed by a stern disgust for anything less than perfectly capturing what we’re experiencing, which brings me to what we’re experiencing. I’ve decided that what we’re experiencing will never be fully described through writing, nor should that be the measure of my writing. My writing is primarily to serve as an aid to my memory of what what we’ve done, but also, hopefully it can serve as a document through which others can have a glimpse of our world.
I’ve begun to write so many times about the magic of the sea, intimidated by the task. Still, I try. There is a moment when we exit a port, when we’re no longer navigating red and green markers, or making our way between other boats and ships (sometimes with white knuckles on the wheel), obstructions in the water, and land. We move closer to the open sea. The waves sometimes grow bigger and their rhythm more steady. It gets quiet, but not in the traditional sense.
The horizon expands but our focus narrows. As we raise the sails and turn off the engine I feel the wind and water take over. At times they have a tight grip on the boat, but she never waivers. It is not an intimidating grip; we don't feel the need to escape it. The embrace is expected and welcomed. She presses against the sea, dancing in the wind and waves. They are lovers reunited after a time apart; their movements intertwined but with the familiar awkwardness as they reconnect. I hope this dance includes some moves to knock clean the sea scum that grows on the transducers’s paddle wheel so we can actually tell just how quickly those currents are running!
As we move through the motions of setting our course, our world centers on the 43 feet by 12 feet which encapsulates us. The “noise” from the city and the buzz of cars, airplanes, and other traffic subsides, and it’s just us and the ocean. Our world feels small even though we have few boundaries. It’s a comfortable small. For me, it affords no boundaries for my thoughts. I look out at the sea and find it’s more blue than any color blue I’ve ever experienced. As I revere its blueness, I find no words to describe it other than blue, which invites an odd frustration that I sometimes grapple with for hours. As I look from different angles, the blue intensifies and I am humbled to learn that this is possible, and that I’m seeing it. As we sail, this humbling awe continues as new sights and sounds appear. We see a sea turtle swimming through a wave not twenty feet from our boat. A school of dolphins swim along our bow for what feels like hours as we gleefully squeal at their talent. Events like these entertain us as the minutes melt into hours and we take little notice of the time. At times I spend 5-10 minutes trying to figure out what day it is, only to conclude it usually doesn’t matter.
As night falls, we go about our usual routine of making dinner and getting Reverie ready for bed. If we're sailing through the night, Kai and I prepare for shifts of 2-3 hours depending on the intensity of the conditions. Sometimes we'll both stay up for periods and keep watch together.
The sky on the ocean is like no other sky I've seen, obviously, although in all the skies I've traveled and lived under, I manage to find Orion first. Looking out the stern we see the bioluminescent marine life stir around our wake. It is as if our rudder is shooting out the Milky Way itself: they sparkle and glimmer, lighting up the water if only for a moment. On our way from Saint Augustine to Cape Canaveral a line had gone overboard. It dragged behind us for awhile until I realized it was out and pulled it back in. As I coiled it on the floor of the cockpit, the now bioluminescent rope and my hands flickered as the glow faded. I sat there in awe of the tiny particles for what felt like hours but was probably only a few waves worth of time.
What I am learning, is that no matter what I write, the grandeur and intensity of the ocean escapes the bounds of my words. It is beyond any paragraph I could write and much more eloquent than my English affords. It is okay, just this time, to be less than perfect with my writing.