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.

"It is with you as with the sea: the most varied names are given to what is in the end only salt water." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Maxims and Reflections, 1833.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Squall

LOG: Sun 9 Aug 09. 1200-1830. Onboard Bébé II (32’ Beneteau). Crew: Ramón, Silvia and myself. Wind: E-NE 13-18 Knots. Seas: 5-6 feet. Barometer: 29.90 steady. Weather: Scattered clouds, distant thunderheads southeast, NOAA small craft caution. Position: Between Sunbay Marina, Fajardo and the Island of Icacos in Puerto Rico.
Riddle of the Ice: A Scientific Adventure into the ArcticI am inspired to enter a log in my entries in the manner that Myron Arms writes his in the book, Riddle of the ice: A scientific adventure into the Arctic (1998). He starts every chapter with a log entry for the sailboat Brendan Isle, as it sails into the icy waters of the Labrador Sea, Davis Strait and Baffin Bay. As it ventures north, he states, “… you are a sailor, moving along with the forces of nature rather than against them. You are a minion of the wind—only partially in control of where you go …”
And so it was on this particular Sunday. We debated whether to go to Palomino or Icacos. There was a large thunderhead behind Palomino. Normally these weather formations travel east toward Naguabo. We moved northeast towards Icacos hoping to avoid it but it decided to travel northward and split north and east (to mainland Puerto Rico). Greek mythological sailors, such as Jason and the Argonauts, would have been convinced that the gods had a hand in it. It came straight to us. We came about and headed back to sea rather than to boat-crowded Icacos. In its imminent approach, we reefed the mainsail. Ramón and Silvia furled the jib just as it began to engulf us into its misty grey. I was behind the helm and felt myself becoming “a minion of the wind” and the blinding cold rain. The water looked like the pocked surface of the moon with multiple little peaks. I started the engine and headed close to the wind, working “with the forces of nature rather than against them,” well aware that our bearing kept us from harms way, if it pleased the gods.
Within five minutes that felt like five hours it passed by and the clouds opened as theater curtains to verdant Palomino in the distant center stage. We were drenched. Tissue papers deep in my pockets were soaked. Silvia said the water was colder than normal rainwater. Ramón added that it was thick and hit the skin like pellets. Me, I was so proud of being part of a team that never once panicked, at least not visibly. We pulled together to keep ourselves safe, our sailboat as steady as possible in the turmoil, and her sails intact. After a well-deserved rest in a heave-to, with Palomino to one side and the Fajardo lighthouse to the other, we sailed back uneventfully to Sunbay under sun-clear skies. Scattered dark clouds headed to Naguabo, some to the distant north Atlantic, perhaps to the Labrador Sea.