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.