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.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Power of Suggestion



Sunday, January 24, 2010. The sky was mostly clear with a few scattered clouds. The wind was hardly blowing. My sailing day had a rough start. At the marina, I had left my car keys in the car, along with all my sailing gear, cell phone and money. I had to borrow a cell phone to phone home for help. My son and husband came to the rescue and an hour later opened the car; we exchanged goodbyes and thanks and good days. My sailing friends—Ramón, Silvia, Carlos—waited for me onboard Lolita.
I received a text message from Glory Days’ captain, already at sea, saying there were hurricane winds blowing. NOAA’s weathercast was good, but they had predicted a small craft advisory for Monday, the following day. I remember wondering if the weather had arrived early out at sea, though not yet at the dock area. As I boarded Lolita, I shared the content of the message. We reefed the main and put up the jib instead of the genoa. As we motored out around noon, we hoisted the main and set the jib. The sailboat practically floated in place, alongside a small group of Brown Boobies (Bobas, in Spanish).
It then hit me that the other sailboat’s captain was being sarcastic, and that in jest he meant the opposite; there was no wind. Aside from a proper name for a bird, the word boba in Spanish has another connotation—silly or fool. I felt as one alongside my feather friends. I was a victim of the crew’s teasing for the rest of the afternoon. In the calmness of the Caribbean Sea, they would hold on to the rail and the mast to avoid being blown by the “hurricane” winds.
A Guide to the Birds of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands: Revised EditionThe Brown Booby, according to H. Raffaele’s Guide to the birds of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands (1989), is “seen virtually everywhere in the Virgin Islands, but in Puerto Rico the best places to look for the bird are at Cabo Rojo Lighthouse and Las Croabas. … Their leisurely flapping and gliding flight, low over the water, is characteristic, as are their spectacular dives into the sea in pursuit of fish and squid.” This Sunday, they were floating, with some light fishing.
As we sailed on, rather putt-putted along, Ramón and Silvia changed the jib to a genoa. The bigger sail gave us an additional one and a half knot. Carlos helped with the main. I was behind the helm, taking it all, and joining in the occasional laughter. Glory Days sailed by us midway and took a picture of us in Lolita with the Fajardo Lighthouse in the background. Idyllic.
It was still a good sailing day, and as we returned around 4:30 p.m., the wind freshened some, but not much. There was a lesson in there somewhere. However, at the end of the day, if one must err at sea, as one will eventually, it is best to err on the side of safety.