My world is made of waves. In between efforts to eat, sleep, film the life on board, help out when I can, and my feeble attempts to write, the remainder of the day’s hours (night as well) are spent watching waves, which is to say; observing as the landscape rolls by. This activity is a steady stimulant for thought. One idea effortlessly segues into the next while the sea wanders. The waves, like the subjects floating through my head, are never the same.
Today is the last full day of the passage. A reality I find hard to grasp. Most of August is gone and by now my body has fully adapted to this environment of constant shifting jerking motion; to these ever-present and rapacious forces: ceaseless, indifferent, needy, demanding, repugnant, but nevertheless, an unfiltered hardened fact—undeniable and utterly inescapable.
Each moment spent aboard this sailing vessel at sea is more real, more tactile, than any moment I’ve spent on dry land. It takes time to fully comprehend, but when you are sea, each moment must be lived within a complete presence of mind. And it is this drive to survive which focuses the mind to a pinpoint sharpness. When you’re on your feet each individual second spent upright must be met with careful thought, and each subsequent second must be planned, ascertained, scrutinized, and above all, experienced fully awake.
If not, then gravity’s greedy little grasping hands are everywhere, delighted in their insatiable desire to make your life miserable: yanking lose items from an opened cupboard, dumping the fresh food you’ve just brought out, spilling the coffee, tossing the hot tea; waiting for the tiniest opportunity to pull your feet out from under you and knock you to the floor with extreme prejudice—oh yes, please do, just step into that shower—I dare you.
Wind and waves are the culprits. Today, the last day, and we have a gusty twenty knots hitting our beam, but the waves are coming at us from some other place. We’ve had bigger waves on this journey and faster speeds, but today’s waves are a kind of liquid schizophrenia. By now everyone’s read the wind memos, and as you move around, your body knows the next motion before it happens—it’s in the rhythms, the sway from port to starboard. Eighteen days worth of experience have rewarded you with the confidence to anticipate, but not today. Today anticipation is off the table.
As I write, the beam from a midday sun shines through the overhead hatch to form a bright golden square atop the saloon’s table. A square of light that swings wildly from one side to the other and across the table’s surface. A harsh rolling, in synch with the swinging square of sunlight, pushes up from the settee and into the seat of my pants; my feet brace against the floor to hold the body in place, while the heels of my hands are pressed into the edge of the table with a kind of mild desperation. Through it all my fingers find a way to keep typing.