Quote of the Month

"Not all those who wander are lost." J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, 1954.

“We must change our attitudes toward the ocean. We must regard it as no longer a mystery, a menace, something so vast and invulnerable that we need not concern ourselves with it … Instead we want to explore the themes of the ocean’s existence—how it moves and breathes, how it experiences dramas and seasons, how it nourishes its hosts of living things, how it harmonizes the physical and biological rhythms of the whole earth, what hurts it and what feeds it—not least of all, what are its stories.” Jacques Yves Cousteau, 1910-1997.

"It's the glory of the sea that has turned my head." Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island, 1894.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer Sailstice 09 – Caribbean

Sunday, June 21st, 2009 – 1130 to 1830. It is the first day of summer. Our fleet joined a group of sailboats celebrating Sailors for the Sea and the Summer Sailstice (see link). This organization based in San Francisco, California has a mission “that educates and empowers the boating community to protect and restore our oceans and coastal waters.” They had registered over 2,000 sailboats, including our small fleet and friends.

I was Lolita’s captain, and with Silvia, Inés and Ramón, we set sail from Sunbay Marina to the island of Icacos. We were following Bébé, with Captain Michael and Margarita, the leaders of the fleet. The wind was E-SE, at about 12 knots with occasional gusts. We sailed NE to Icacos and were there in no time (about an hour)—a fun sail on one tack and just in time for lunch. We anchored next to Glory Days (47’ Bavaria- see to the right of the pix above and the pix below), where Captain Carlos and Glory celebrated the solstice with their relatives.

We feasted on Lolita with a homemade Greek salad (I lived and sailed 4 years in Greece), French baguettes from Pepín Bakery, and Inés’s homemade Tarta Cubana (Cuban Torte) filled with a guava spread. We toasted with Passoa (a passion fruit liqueur) mixed with cranberry juice and lots of ice. Carlos and Glory swam over and had some Tarta Cubana. It was lovely to have them onboard.

Bébé had anchored a bit further. Inés and Ramón swam over, and then Ramón kayaked back to Lolita to pick up Silvia and me. We spent time with Captain Michael and Margarita talking boat stuff and future sails. We suddenly noticed the greater presence of sailboats at Icacos. Normally there are far more motorboats than sails. Today, there were masts all around us—we were the majority—Sailors for the Sea.

I spent so much time in the water, by Lolita’s stern that my fingertips wrinkled. I had not done that in a long time. I took the two pictures shown while I was in the water, with my Olympus water-proof (to 16 ft) digital camera. Glory Days, from my selkie perspective, looks to be grazing the clouds’ canopy (see pix below). Silvia is high up in Lolita’s cockpit (see pix above). As the evening approached, we reluctantly sailed back into the sunset.

Celebrating the summer solstice in the Caribbean? Isn’t that as much of an oxymoron as a deafening silence? You may ask, if you are from the north or south of the equator. When one is born and raised in the Caribbean, as my fellow crew and I know, the seasons are very distinct. The arrival of the summer solstice is loudly announced by the fiery flamboyant trees, fully covered with orange-red, red flowers. The Reina de las Flores (queen of flowers tree) joins with her lavender clusters, as do the ripening mangoes, and many other announcers. There are the migrating birds stopping over on their way north—heavenly treats juxtaposed to the beginning of the hurricane season. Our Taino native people had Yuquiyú (the god of good) and Huracán (the god of evil). They knew we couldn’t have one without the other.

To many of us, this is the greatest sailing in the world. We love our seas, and as we are learning, there is only one sea. From our Caribbean shores, we are protecting the California kelp, so that it can continue growing one foot a day in the summer. To borrow the quote from the documentary, “The Living Sea”—“We can’t protect what we don’t understand. What we understand most profoundly, we love.” We love our Caribbean Sea and thank the sailors in San Francisco for protecting it. We are all sailors for the sea.