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.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bebe II

Log: Sunday, October 10, 2010 (0900-1530). Sailboat: Bebe II. Winds: S, SE 9-15 Knots. Seas: 2-5 feet. Weather: high 80’s, very hazy, cumulus clouds to the east.

It has rained so much in the past two months. Hurricanes have passed north of Puerto Rico but their elongated spiral arms have caused copious rains, flash floods and numerous thunderstorms in the island. Tropical depressions and waves followed suit, with only moments of sunshine in between.

Sunday morning was such a moment, with a break in the clouds. The sun peeked through the haze and my sailing mates, Ramón and Silvia, agreed to go sailing. I drove to Fajardo, to the Isleta Marina ferry dock. This islet off Fajardo is Bebe II’s new home.

I had not sailed Bebe II since August’s St. John adventure. I was the first to arrive at the dock. Seeing her there all alone was like seeing a dear old friend. As I went onboard, like old times, I opened her portholes and hatches and I started cleaning heads, sinks and counters. Do you know what the first rule of sailing is?

The science fiction movie, Serenity, came to mind. Captain Mal answers his question to the new pilot: “Love. You can learn all the math in the ‘verse, you take a boat in the air that you don’t love, she’ll shake you off just as sure as the turn of the worlds. Love keeps you in the air when she ought to fall down, tell you she’s hurt before she keels. Makes her a home.” It felt like coming home.

We sailed and sailed. We were not interested in docking, mooring or anchoring. It was all about feeling the wind in our face and in the billowing sails. Listening as the water rushed by her sides. Tasting the sun’s fire in our skins. Watching sun sparkles in the waves and in our reddening shoulders. Breathing in the scent of salt.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Seven Nights at Sea (August 7-14, 2010)



WE CAN DO IT!
  • Saturday: Puerto del Rey, Fajardo to Tamarindo Beach, Culebra. Hazy skies. Moored. (see picture).
  • Sunday: Tamarindo Beach to Botany Bay, St. Thomas. 3 squalls (the 1st hit us, 2nd was avoided, 3rd was skirted). Anchored.
  • Monday: Botany Bay to Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. As we arrived in the bay, a thunderstorm hit. We went around in circles in the bay until it passed. Got ice, refilled water tank. Anchored.
  • Tuesday: Charlotte Amalie to Maho Bay, St. John (via Christmas Cove). Rain showers on the way. The most beautiful passageway imaginable; a pre-Columbian view of the Caribbean. Moored.
  • Wednesday: Maho Bay. Got ice, coconut rum and ice cream (decadent). Same mooring.
  • Thursday: Maho Bay to Christmas Cove, St. Thomas, by Greater St. James Cay (circumnavigating St. John). Well worth coming here again. Moored.
  • Friday: Christmas Cove to Dewey, Culebra. Got ice and ice cream. Moored temporarily. Then we moved to Luis Peña Cay (the side facing PR). Moored.
  • Saturday: Luis Peña to Fajardo, PR. Sunshiny but no wind. Sunbay Marina to fill diesel tank. Docked in Isleta Marina.

WE DID IT!

The previous paragraph sounds so mechanical. A sailboat meandering midst Spanish, U.S. and British Virgin Islands. Three souls onboard taking it all in, awed, apprehensive, delighted, with child-like grins of “this is fun.”

It was technical. Planning routes and waypoints with Navionics in my MacBook. Comparing notes with Bob doing the same with his Garmin. Designing a table in MicroSoft Word to plan meals and shopping logistics. Calculating a gallon of water per person, per day. Provisions, first aid, galley complements, and don’t forget the grill and coffee maker. Anything else, Sue? Checking the boat, water, diesel, oil, engine, sails, rigging, communication equipment, and don’t forget the dinghy. A myriad details and as one is about to leave for eight days, there is the lingering question: Did I forget something important?

Cruising (with) ClassIt was informative. We calculated ETA’s (estimated time of arrival) and while we were right most of the times, there were changing factors; a sudden squall, changing winds, slower than expected speeds, things that in our usual day sails do not factor in. They do factor in when hours of sail become days. Weather patterns come and go. We were hit by a squall. We learned to bypass them or skirt them later on. We developed a routine for thunderstorms, as in the book, Cruising (with) Class by Stan Zimmerman, where he states: “Mine works like this – pull on my sailing gloves, drop and secure the jib, reef the main, then grab the boots, and don my foul weather pants.” We laughed at the boots in the tropics but we pretty much followed a similar routine.

It was spiritual. I felt closer to Emerson’s One, that yogic union with the universe, gazing up at stars, constellations, the milky way, Jupiter, Mars, and that Angel Brightest, Venus. They were with us all seven nights, and even in the cloudy night skies, their presence was felt.

It was magical. Sailing past Sail Rock (see picture) between Culebra and St. Thomas, you’d swear she’s sailing along with you. Then you think you’ll never leave her behind. Before you know it, she tacks and disappears under rain showers; another island in the mist, like Avalon and Antilia. And you wonder if she was ever there.

Cathedral of the World: Sailing Notes for a Blue PlanetIt was humbling. Crossing between St. Thomas and St. John, passing Christmas Cove, we were enclosed by green islands and Caribbean blue seas. Not a man-made construction in sight. Our sailboat entered Myron Arms’ Cathedral of the World. Time evanescent, a pre-Columbian Caribbean glimpse. And again, like little children, a sounding sigh, eyes filled with joy, like Christmas day in the morning.