The Fellowship of the Sea

At the end of last week and with a huge sigh of relief, Bodacious Dream and I finally broke into the solid trade winds that blow up the western coast of South America! It was after another beautiful sunrise, that the winds began to stabilize and since then, we’ve been sailing a fairly steady and pleasant course at speeds right around 10 knots.

Bo loves this point of sail … an open beam reach where the wind is from the side of the boat and the waves are from behind! In the previous days though, while the wind had been from the side of the boat, the leftover waves from the earlier weather patterns had been hitting us on the bow making it bumpy and uncomfortable for days at a stretch. But right now, this is what “champagne sailing” is all about … it’s that Jimmy Buffet style of sailing!

A song in the making … 18.58804S, 96.423916W

And speaking of Jimmy Buffet – while doing my regular rounds of the boat today, I captured this “still life” picture above titled … “a bucket, a sponge and my wool socks drying in the trade wind’s sun … and I thought, that’s GOT to be a Jimmy Buffet song in the making!” Go for it Jimmy … just remember me when the royalty checks start coming in!

Back home in the Midwest, it’s springtime and everyone’s working on their boats getting ready to put them in the water. One of the great traditions at my home yacht club,The Michigan City Yacht Club, is Cooper’s annual spring sock burning party – a time when you burn your winter socks and make the transition over to flip-flops. I’m not sure if the snow has melted enough this year for anyone to be burning their socks just yet, but in honor of my friends back home, I’m doing my part here – without the flames!

21.332942S, 97.16551W
The Waves of Night – 21.332942S_97.16551W

Right now, it’s the middle of the night; Bo is sailing smoothly and quickly and I just checked the log. We’ve sailed a over 5000 miles now since leaving New Zealand four weeks ago and have 500 miles left to go to the Galapagos Islands. I’m getting pretty excited to visit these famed islands and to see the many interesting animals and plants that exist there. At the same time, as you know, what we’re executing here is Plan B – as Plan A was to sail around Cape Horn. Naturally, I can’t help but wonder if that course might have worked out all right … but checking today’s weather down there shows 35-50 knot winds at the Horn and up the Eastern Seaboard of South America … so it seems like the course adjustment was a pretty wise decision.

19.02225S, 96.429072W
Eyes Forward Sailor – 19.02225S, 96.429072W

As each day goes by here, I move further and further north towards the Equator, which is just above the Galapagos Islands and each day, the temperature grows warmer. If you’re out of the wind, short sleeves and no socks is just fine. If you’re in the wind, a jacket works best. Earlier, I had to dig around to find the sunscreen. It had gotten buried since the last time I needed it. The air temperature was about 80 today. Even with 20 knots of wind, the wind chill temperature only takes it down into the middle 70’s! I haven’t been this warm sailing in quite a while!

I had a very special time on the water last night that I wanted to tell you about. After sunset, the wind and waves started going at it pretty good … and I decided to take a turn at the helm to test the balance of the boat. I wanted to see if the sails and the course were all working together and how much pressure I had to apply to the helm to keep the boat straight and on course. The point of that is to make sure that Otto (our auto-pilot) doesn’t have to work any harder than necessary. Happily, the helm felt JUST right … and the touch was feather-light – so, I relaxed and let my eyes and mind wander. The night was dark and moonless, and the soft, warm wind was tossing the clouds all about the sky. Then suddenly, a new round of bioluminescence erupted, sending sparks shooting out from the wake of the boat.

22.536945S, 97.197512W
Squalls a Coming – 22.536945S, 97.197512W

As I described in an earlier post on bioluminescence, these moments with the sea alight with glowing phosphorescent are extraordinary and unforgettable. As I watched the luminous trails spin and drift, I looked over the horizon and found a bright shining star … and I set my course to it. Soon enough that star moved away, and I found another star to follow … and before too long my everyday perception of time … just slipped away.

There I was steering my ship through warm trade winds and focusing my course on a single star. Minutes passed; I don’t know how many. But in the course of those few brief moments, I gradually felt myself drawn into some larger world. I felt as if I were a part of some weather-worn fraternity of sailors going back thousands and thousands of years, who had all done just what I was doing now … and in this moment, I was one of them!

As I gazed into the heavens, my thoughts drifted farther off, as I imagined myself steering Bodacious Dream straight across the universe! And then I thought … I AM doing that … in fact, that’s ALL I’m doing … and I wondered if perhaps somewhere out there beyond the stars, there was another world and another sailor who at that very moment was focusing his or her course on our star and on the soft glow of Earth that is home to all the dreams that we have ever dreamed.

20.26899S, 96.582191W
The Universe … straight ahead … 20.26899S, 96.582191W

I’ll leave it at that … before I lose the roll of the waves and the fellowship of the sea.

Stay tuned for more coming soon! Ok?

Here we go … sailing the trades—without any darn socks!

– Dave, Bodacious Dream (and the suddenly mystical) Franklin

6.11366S, 94.40054W
6.11366S, 94.40054W