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, August 29, 2011

Irene, Leda and the Swan

Andariego after Tropical Storm Irene

            Tropical Storm Irene became Hurricane Irene, Category 1, as it crossed the island of Puerto Rico. It is not about what category a hurricane is. It is about the things that come alive around you as the hurricane passes. The water nymph that enlivened the wind infused life on a distant zinc plank. Its new grown wings sent the plank directly to Andariego’s jib. It locked itself around the rope that was keeping the jib taut in its stay during the storm. Like the white skirt of a Turk dancing dervish, it twirled round and round the forestay, cutting and unwrapping its prize, searching for its beloved in the sublimity of nature. The gusty Naiad that forced the plank unto Andariego’s wings went on to other mischief. And the zinc’s lifeless form dropped to the deck, bouncing to Davy Jones’ locker. Andariego was the swan that dropped Leda from its beak, to a final resting place.
            Twelve lines kept Andariego from hitting concrete docks and nearby boats. Hull intact, cabins dry, Irene went on to cause chaos on Andariego’s friends, near and far. In our marina, two boats sank and many sustained major and minor damages. All one can do is be thankful and better prepared for the next one, for the next one cometh.
Leda and the Swan

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Sound of Sailing

Sailing past Cabeza de Perro

Friday, July 29 to Sunday, July 31, 2011. Friday afternoon Marisol, Fabián and I prepared Andariego for a weekend sail to Punta Arenas, Vieques (19 nautical miles). Clean linen, food, water, music, solar chargers, general check-ups and cleaning. We had an early night, to get up early at 6:00 a.m., have a leisure morning and set sail at 8:30 a.m. Sue, the captain of Bona Roba, a beautiful Hans Christian classic, joined us for our sail Saturday morning—three women and a young man.
Marisol on the lookout
We set sail at 9:30 a.m., blue skies with distant thunderheads, east winds from 12 to 16 knots, and a pleasant beamy sail averaging 4 to 5 knots, had us there in 3-odd hours. The wind blew through the fishing rod stainless steel holder and made a gentle whistling sound. The wind was whispering sweet nothings through Andariego. The sound of the wind on the sails, the rush of the water against the hull, and aft foamy crescendos rivaled Mozart’s Jupiter in that allegro vivace first movement.
 As we approached Punta Arenas, we found a faulty mooring and opted to anchor nearby on a sandy spot, facing Monte Pirata. A police boat went by twice, perhaps wondering where the men were … ha! On our last sail, we moored on the first try, and later on we watched a sailboat with a French name and 4 men give up mooring after 3 tries. After we anchored, our 13-year-old young man was hungry, and the barbecue was started. Fabián checked the anchor 3 times; any excuse to snorkel further than the 3 feet distance from the sailboat required. Sue made a super salad with mango dressing, and Marisol made barbecued spare ribs. Lots of water, some spirits and Kenny Chesney’s key lime pie song, Jimmy Buffet’s 5-o’clock somewhere, and Martinique’s Compagnie Creole’s k-dance rhythms reminded us of friends not present—Neill, Bob, Brenda, Margarita, Michael, Silvia, Ramón, Tessie, Francisco, … We toasted to us and those unable to share the sunset from Punta Arenas. Dark clouds covered El Yunque rainforest, yonder in the rainy Puerto Rico mainland.
Sue at the helm
As the night drew near, Fabián signed-off early to his cabin (all that anchor watching), and we three females laid down at the bow’s deck to look at the stars; we played Chopin’s Nocturne in B flat minor. A moonless night, we saw infinite numbers of stars and the Milky Way. Sue was at the starboard side, Marisol at the port side, and I was in the middle. Feet towards the pulpit, a choir of crickets joined Chopin, along with the music of the spheres. I was recently reading a book, Song of the Spine: Sound healing and vibrational therapy (2004) by Dr. June Leslie Wieder, in which she states that: “Astronomers have recently discovered that a black hole in the Perseus star cluster emits a B-flat sound wave 57 octaves below the middle B-flat on a piano.” Chopin must have known something. In that primordial B-flat, we were connected to the sound of the universe.
           Sunday morning was Mozart’s Jupiter symphony, energizing us to welcome a glorious sunrise. I prepared coffee and we joined the morning in the cockpit, along with distant neighbors, a catamaran, a sloop and a couple of even more distant motorboats. The weather announced yet more distant rumors of a possible hurricane Emily forming, 2-3 days away. We opted to leave at 11:00 a.m. after swimming and tidying up. Marisol brought up the anchor (so proud of her), and everyone took turns behind the helm. A superb sailing team! On the sail back, we were threatened by 4 squall-like fronts, which we luckily avoided swiftly. As we approached our bay entrance, the wind died down, and we were running at 1.8 knots. A sailboat named Adagio passed us. Adagio is a slow musical piece, appropriate for our finale. No hurry, but for that looming black cloud I wished away as we approached the dock. Molto allegro, Jupiter’s fourth and last movement, very happy, sums up the sound of sailing.
Bliss at 13 - Fabián