Sunday, January 13, 2008

Day 2- LIfe on the Moderate Seas

Cap'n Angie

When we awoke, the only sign of the previous night’s chaos was the fruit and vegetables scattered throughout the boat and my recently acquired nervous disposition. Charlotte woke to find she was sharing her bed with a cabbage, and there were potatoes rolling about all over the deck. The sun was out, and the sea was subdued. Over a breakfast of papaya and coffee we talked about the experience of last night. More than one of our group had been sure that it was the end, but le Capitaine assured us that ten metres swells made for a dangerous sea, and the mere four to five of last night were nothing to worry about.

The day continued calmly- a smooth ocean, a hot sun and nothing to do but enjoy the sense of supreme isolation that comes with not seeing land for a full day. Around lunchtime, le Capitaine hoisted another sail and cut the engine. This sail proceeded to develop small tears, the kind that last night led to the complete destruction of the other sail. ‘Shot!’ cried the captain, as he rehung the sail to avoid destroying it entirely.

Cap'n Dave photo:Charlotte

The sun set, and the boat continued calmly and silently on into the moonlight. The silence of the night seemed amplified by our situation- emptiness around us, no noise except the splashing of waves and creaking of the wooden boat. I tried to sleep, but the knowledge that my shift at the wheel would be soon upon me prevented me from getting any real rest. When finally I did fall asleep, I was awoken fifteen minutes later to take control. It was the last snippet of proper sleep I would get until the following afternoon.

Cap'n Char

I sat at the wheel, the seas calm enough for me to steer with my foot, keeping Orion’s Belt behind the mast- a soothing contrast to the dramatic anxiety of last night. Nothing happened. I watched the stars, listened to Ocean Songs by Dirty Three (surely the best ocean themed album I’ve ever heard) on the iPod and felt genuinely grateful that I could relax. Near to the end of my shift, J2 appeared on deck. He was having coughing fits, and was convinced he had somehow contracted bronchitis thanks to being out in the weather last night. To prove it, he summoned up a theatrical cough and let it loose, leaning into me as he barked, his rasping mouth not half a foot from my ear as he wheezily and purposefully exhaled. A little put out by this, I nominated him to take over from me so I could sleep.

Below deck, I crawled into bed to be rocked to sleep by the gentle sea. The constant alternation between feeling weightless and then being pressed into the mattress sent me into a blissful state between consciousness and deep sleep.

What ripped me from this supreme relaxation, jut as I was settling into a proper coma, were two sickening sounds somewhere between bangs and scrapes, along with a sloping sensation in which the boat tipped sideways and remained at an unnatural angle. There was some shouting from above, J2 yelling something about an island. I ran upstairs and saw whitewash rolling into the side of the lame boat. On the other side of the ship the fuzzy silhouette of palm trees could be seen not too far off through the moonless darkness. Welcome to Central America…

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