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.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Getting to Know You: December 11-12, 2010

On Saturday, December 11, my son drove me from San Juan (N) to Ponce (S), so that I could join Richard in Andariego’s delivery voyage to Isleta Marina in Fajardo (E). The north to south drive crosses the Cordillera Central, a spinal chord of mountains that traverses Puerto Rico from west to east, coastal valleys at both ends. There was heavy fog this morning in the mountains dividing San Juan and Ponce. As the Sanskrit maya (illusion) curtain, the fog lifted as we approached Ponce.

Richard,  Andariego’s best friend for five years, was at the yacht club (Club Naútico de Ponce) waiting. Here I was, staking claims to the sailboat, contemplating that I could become as good a friend to Andariego as Richard. He knows so much about the sailboat, every nook and cranny; and me, I’m just getting to know him.

Him? In English, all boats are “she.” In Spanish, and French, sailboats are “male” (el bote de vela, le bateau à voile). The noun, andariego, means ‘male wanderer’ in Spanish. The female version would be ‘andariega,’ that would be me. Accustomed to referring to boats as female, Andariego has become somewhat hermaphroditic with some friends and family. I cannot but think of him as a companion wanderer, bearing with me in my initial clumsiness. As in ‘Bearing Witness,’ the Collective Soul song, Andariego, “I’m bearing witness to you … I’m just gathering all my eyes can see … you’re my destiny … every day I conquer, with your love …” Getting to know you, I am.

Me, sailing past Caja de Muertos Island, near Ponce
We set sail from Ponce at 9:10 a.m. and anchored for the night in Bajos de Patillas around 4:30 p.m. We were moving east with east winds, so we motor sailed with the mainsail. I was introduced to Sinbad, the auto helm. I had never sailed the south side of Puerto Rico. It was breathtaking to see the full Cordillera Central in an eye-full, as Taino-Arawaks coming to Puerto Rico from South America may have seen it from their canoes, an island-cemí, with its three cardinal points. We sailed past Ponce, Juana Díaz, Santa Isabel, Salinas, Guayama, Arroyo, to Patillas. I wrote in my journal: “Bajos de Patillas is a well secluded anchorage. Andariego is such a friendly little boat. The sun is setting fast as I peacefully watch four sailboats anchored nearby. Behind them, a row of palms covers a strip of land that juts out from the hills in Patillas. Beyond those hills, the mountains of Maunabo. Me, I am sitting in Andariego’s cockpit listening to small waves crashing the shore and the coquis and crickets coming alive at dusk. It is becoming more difficult to write as everything turns grey. I am peacefully happy with Andariego. I hope that he’ll be happy with me also.”

Ship of Magic (The Liveship Traders, Book 1)Are sailboats alive? Robin Hobb wrote a trilogy, The Liveship Traders: Ship of Magic-1999,  Mad Ship-2000, and Ship of Destiny-2001. A fantasy saga with living ships that think, feel, and act on their own volition. People become part of the living being of the ships as they live, cry and bleed, becoming symbiotic and one with them. The liveships are sentient beings built of wizardwood. Andariego’s heart of glass, fiberglass that is, feels no less sentient.
Sunrise in Bajos de Patillas

On Sunday, December 12, the sun rose behind Patillas’ palm trees and fellow sailboats. Maunabo’s mountains rose majestically behind Patillas. The Cordillera de Luquillo, with easternmost El Yunque, peeked behind, and guided our way past Yabucoa, Humacao, Naguabo, Roosevelt Roads, and Fajardo. We went past Punta Tuna, Caribbean waters nearly 2,000 ft. deep, the depth sounder stopped registering. Unusually favorable currents and seas dissipated our worry of arriving after nightfall. We docked at Isleta Marina at 1:30 p.m. A baptismal light rain enveloped Andariego’s new berth. Richard and I, along with family and friends, toasted to new and old friends. I went back alone to check docking lines, seeing a little bit of me looking back. Getting to know me.