There are explosions above me head, but asleep in me bunk telling meself it's a part a me dream, i go deeper into unconciousness...BANG !...BAM !!!
Lord, I Know, I know...I admit it, I know what it is, and that it's gotta be done, and done now, seeing as I'm the only one here.
The breeze was strong, and still comin' on when I left the deck at 01:00, and so I did not tighten the boom's vang because you see, in a stronger blow, you don't need a vang because the sheer power of the wind takes the vang's place, so that the vang's lines and blocks that hold the boom firmly in place so that it doesn't slam around aren't needed, until they are...Kinda like what's happen'n now.
You see, it was the de-escalation of velocity, that of a wind that had gone light, that was causing me and ESPIRITU problems. Of course it had gone light, if it'd blown harder, I'd still be sleeping! Now it's kinda noisy when you're on deck and things are smackin into each other, but below, it's a cannon shot, and I couldn't sleep my way through that anyway. But I don't wanna get up, still half immersed in a dream. My watch says 3:30. OF COURSE ! 3:30!
I can stall, but that I must come to the aid of my ESPIRITU is clear: And I know it. So I locate my headlamp in the dark, then make my way on one leg into the cockpit. No time to pull the other leg on, only because I'm fed-up and in no mood to put my leg on ! Or the stupid harness and tether that connect me to the boat's Jack lines, strong and taut, and running fore and aft, port and starboard...Hell! I can be done at the mast before I even clamp the D___ contraption on !!!
But - just as I owe the boat, so do I owe the guys who painstakingly rigged those Jack lines - that accept the tether, that accepts the harness, that embraces me, and keeps me alive.
So - On goes the harness, clank sounds the stainless steel carabiner and my headlamp shows the way. Water gurgles just past my feet in the black night. Two and a half miles underneath the gurgle lies the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, and just 1,520 nautical miles away to the west, lies Oahu.
I'm dressed in me underwear, am now unclipped and back in the cockpit. We are dead on course for Hawaii, and it's 04:10.
Back to Sleep, Young Man!
ESPIRITU'S well over 500 miles at sea alone and it's been Friday for six and a half minutes. Reflexes jerked me conscious, the last thing I wanted. BAH WHAM! I snapped upright, missing my bunk for a nano second. An irresistable foce met an unmoveable object once again...BOOM ! "Oh, brother, the boom's trying to dismast us again" I begin my mantra; "Slow is smooth", our reefed genoa is flappin' like a flag in 50 knots, and with such force i can feel the mast, the whole rig, vibrating. "And smooth is steady." BANG, BANG, BANG. There is a block just above my head on deck sounding like a spike being driven down on an iron rail, and we're the freight train. "And steady is good." So I methodically begin; hit the light above me, pull the liner for my stump on, then putting a shoe on my real foot. Grabbing an overhead rail, I stand my prostetic leg upright on it's foot, and pull myself upright.And lining my body up with my fake foot pointing forward, I plunge my stump into it's socket, jumping up and down to drive my remainder of a real leg home.
On goes a sweater, two long sleeve shirts and a jacket as the chaos on deck crescendo's and ebbs. Throwing my body upward towards the cockpit, I know by feel I'm on deck now, that because I can't see spit. Night vision takes it's own sweet time, and when things are pitch black, when you can't even make out a horizon, can't see a single star, comes a moment when even UP and DOWN aren't clear. A thimble of sea water, a crumb from the icing of a broken wave strikes the back of my neck, it's maybe a half gallon as I search for the light of our compass. Found, it first tells me up from down... Bow from stern...not a compass's usual job, but from it's night lit red dial I see we are 90 degrees off course!
Say you're driving down a street. There's a red traffic light ahead, and you wait til it's green and you turn left. Congratulations on completing a 90 degree turn. Just my way of showin' we weren't just a little off course, no no no, and ESPIRITU wasn't about to collide with a car either, she was just edging closer to being broken by the wind, and I needed to grab the tiller before...I slam down next to the tiller in the cockpit and pull with both arms extended and both legs, real and fake, locked with feet against the opposite waal of the cockpit's seat. "Pull ! Pull ! I am yanking on that tiller for all I'm worth. I need 90 degrees of salt water right of way back...Now! And struggling, I get 10, then 15, and finally 25 degrees of the 90 I need, but I'm spent and the tiller is hell-bent fighting me.
I've let go, I can't overcome this...then it hits me, I've been fighting my own stainless steel, tougher than iron, wind vane! But I don't have to. There's a link in it's stainless chain I can release, if I can find it..got it! And I've got the helm. Instead of continuing towards the South Pole, Espiritu was suddenly pointed WEST, WEST as in warm sandy beaches, not glaciers. It's taken almost an hour, but feels like 5 minutes. I'm played out, and so having checked my compass, the set of our sails, and adjustments to the wind vane, i've settled back into my bunk, it's 01:10, still Friday mornin'.
Oh, no rest for the weary, say it ain't so, don't you pay that no never mind, son. It'll sort itself out, no worries, it'll cure itself... I DON'T THINK SO !
I can hear it, and have stopped claiming to myself it's just a nightmare. Nope, this here is real. Yes sirree!
The wind, the banging the boom boom has returned. It's 03:30 and I'm back up in the cockpit, but because i'd gotten further in my learning curve; with the adjustments on the wind vane, and with the set of my sails so that they set in a way that worked with, and not against the wind vane...because i really HAD made progress, this time up it was a tempest in a teapot. I tweaked a little here, and a little more there, and Presto peace and joy reigned once more over the North Pacific!
Back to bed, a bit wiser, and even more important seeing the way ahead the things that needed doin'. It's all about the Voyage, what you keep, and what you throw away....what you learn and build on, where you place your faith, your hope. Mine's in Almighy God and His son Jesus, one in Being with the Father, and the bond we know existing between them, that from down here on Espiritu Santo we know as the Holy Spirit.
First off, as of now (14:00 hours) we are in Lat/Long 24 degrees, 0 minutes, N. & 131 degrees, 36 minutes W. Wind is out of due N., @16 knots. COG: (Course over ground) 255. SOG: (Speed over ground) 6.2 Knots. Wave heights 5 - 7'
The boat is behaving extremely well. The Ohlson 38 has a distinguished record as a fine sea-boat, built for the open ocean in excess of Lloyd's 100-1A standards by Tyler's of Great Britain, a renowned yard.
Me ? I'm trying to behave as best I can, but I underestimated (was overly optimistic?) the more or less constant effort needed to run a boat single-handed in the open ocean. Slow is smooth, smooth is steady, ans steady is good... I have had to, of necessity, internalize JB's Seal reminder time and time again - because there are many times at sea, and not just up on deck, where your foot and hand-holds ("always Lad, one hand for the ship") are the difference between serious injury or going overboard.
And when I'm trying to get around on one leg ? Even holding on with two hands, I have been thrown forward and backwards.
There is the crazy contradiction of being fatigued and frustrated with my limitations...yet in the same moment just soaring with the Holy Spirit, simply BEING at one with God's creation...go figure !
But everything is coming together, I've shaken the rust off, accepted the speed at which I can or cannot get something done, and am relentlessly exposed to the overwhelming presence of my creator.
Last night I was forced to run SSE because of a bad wind shift. the lesser of two weavils as the Brits would say. I wore ship and jibed this A.M @ 08:00 and am now on a heading of 205 - 210. There is a strong likelihood I will be shifting from north and south of the rhumb line to Oahu over and over as I go. This because if the wind is blowing directly me directly at Oahu, I am said to be running "Dead down wind", which can often be dangerous in ocean waves because the mainsail and boom are all the way out to one side, but the boom then is also in a position to swing all the way across, known as "jibing all standing" which could take my head off, or, dismast the boat, or - on a lighter note...BOTH!
We have a powerful and steady wind with us. The breeze is just forward of the bow, which helps the ship sail more upright, as we'd been going like a freight train through the night heeled over but at times even exceeding hull speed. I came to realize I was pushing the boat too hard.
So at midnight, I'd decided it was time to jump south off the 30th degree of latitude, and so turned 30 degrees to the SouthWest, we were now broad-reaching and the motion of ESPIRITU got a tad more civilized. I got a little relaxed. We are still making 6 knots, very respectable, and I've been able to make myself a mug of tea without burning my hand!
I've been dazzled tonight by something I've never experienced at all to such an extreme degree...Jellyfish. Yup, Jellyfish. Have to be. It's incredible, but I've watched as dozens upon dozens of these light bright green phosphorescent (sp?)globes the size of a white plastic kitchen garbage bag erupt five feet below the sea's surface!
They explode from underneath ESPIRITU'S rudder glowing like some mad Halloween decoration in groups of 6 or 8...there is a nanosecond's delay, then another pod or whatever of them expole into my field of vision, before they too, are lost in the huge blackness that enfolds all but God's starry heavens above.
Back on deck ! It'll be light before I know it...(I wish !)
Goodnight from 30.33 N, -121.42 W @03:27 8/24/17
Yeah, I'll say...I knew leaving San Diego Monday afternoon I would hit it, but there was no way around this big circular "HIGH" that lay across my path to the west. What I'm talking about is a big circle of high pressure and very light winds a couple three hundred miles across. So, this morning around 08:00 I stayed right on my course for Hawaii and sailed straight into it !
Yes, I could've tried to sail over it, or around it, but my forecast tells me my winds and way through the center of the High will arrive around midnight tonight, making this the shorter and faster route...of course, if the forecast is wrong, ESPIRITU and I will hobble along at one and half knots a little longer...me ? I'm not gonna worry bout it...gazing upon this entirely empty, flat and silent ocean surrounding me is powerful, eerie, memorable, and UNAVOIDABLE.
Might as well enjoy it!