Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Ocean V: The Revenge of Ocean (Oa Pou, Marquessas -> Kauehi atoll, Tuomotus)

14 08 S
143 44 W

My definitions and understanding for the things around me keep getting changed.

Its like when new relationships redefine your feelings about communication, love or sex. With experience, your capacity to understand each broadens. When a relationship opens your eyes, you look back and laugh at the fact that you thought you were previously in love, not because it wasn't love or the love wasn't real, its that your old definition of love only comprises a small slice of your now broader one. You loved within your capacity, its just your capacity and depth for such things has been increased. You've been "re-potted" and you can't reverse it, unless you cut out a part of you to squeeze back in the old confined space. Look back on those laughable days when you had sex without a goat, a compass and a garden gnome in the room. Like wearing socks in the shower, the doors of perception are flung wide. You move from the minors to the bigger leagues. You rest, panting next to the hole in the floor that you just climbed through. I'll call them "gateway" experiences (half the room groans. Bush and Nancy Reagan smile broadly and give each other a high five).

Anyways, back to sailing:

Admiral Beaufort developed something called the Beaufort scale. Well, there are some reports that he copied it from someone else, but it's got his name (so if he did steal it he did a good job). The intent of the scale was to provide sailors with a tool to succinctly and uniformly describe the state of the wind and sea. It runs from 0 (Calm) through 6 (Strong Breeze) to 12 (Hurricane). We use it in our deck log (as well as position, barometer, heading, distance travelled and any other notable items) which we fill in at the end of every watch. It enables pattern recognition and allows those coming up on watch to get a handle on what is going on (and a good diary of the boats travels). We are not so slowly working our way up through the Beaufort scale during this leg and I find myself filling in new and interesting assessments of the current state of things with each passing day. True to form, my definitions of what a "big" wave means or what a "strong" wind is have shifted through experience. (Mike - Hahahaha you were such a neophyte 6 weeks ago, now that you are a neophyte +.5 you are so wizened). The idea of "Endurance" is slowly taking on different boundaries as well. We have been hand steering in 2 and 3 hour shifts for 5 days and although we didn't count them, we have endured 30 squalls or so as an estimate (conservative?). The moral I am taking from this long winded mess: don't walk in like you own the place and don't squash a tale retold with wild eyed excitement. There are different capacities for experience and you never reach the end of the learning curve. Love is love.

I am tired. Its been really tough and slow this go around, but there have been some brilliant moments as well. This leg has been a little bit more technical with more to deal with, learn, take on, enjoy and not enjoy. I wrote in the log one day that "today has restored my joy of sailing." I guess that has to say something. I have also seen some pretty cool conditions like rain so strong it turns jagged seas into smooth intestines and spray being whipped straight up the back of a wave and off the crest.

The courses are something I am interested in, but I've squeezed all that I can from the lectures today. Schools out long ago and I am getting tired of detention. Looking forward to land.

long passages on small boats are a mindfuck.

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