August 2. Wind: SSE 30 knots. Heading: 210M. Position: 12°48’68”S 152°35’42”E
The morning of the fifteenth day breaks cold and dreary with relentless rain, the ocean windswept. An eerie blue light penetrates the cabin, revealing a silhouetted form that sways in the half-light. Eyes closed, fist propping up her chin, April dozes as she pedals. A green lava-lava tied across the stern window is ready to catch her head when it falls.
The wind has veered to south-southeast in the night, and freshened to thirty knots with forty-knot gusts. The best we can now manage is 210 degrees magnetic, taking us diagonally over the backs of the sweeping rollers, some of which shape-shift into spitting balls of liquid rage and target the cockpit with laser-like precision. We’re back to being constantly wet and longing for the sun. This voyage is becoming a dodgem ride in the Twilight Zone, I scribble in my journal, with complimentary buckets of water dumped over our heads…
Normally, I prefer the livelier conditions, far preferable to a dull, millpond existence with the sun beating down. But when everything is soaked with no foreseeable prospect of drying out, the ocean wears you down twice as fast.
Our 24-hour fix is predictably disastrous. As well as the by now familiar double-digit west, we’ve been driven two miles north. North! Going backwards dredges up memories of the dreaded countercurrent between Hawaii and Tarawa. Deploying the sea anchor would be pointless. To win back the lost ground, we’ll have to do it the hard way. I’m just hoping beyond hope this is only a temporary weather anomaly, not the seasonal norm.
“I don’t know what day it is,” April suddenly announces, giving voice to an air of disillusionment that has crept into the voyage. “I don’t know the date. I don’t even know the time.” She laughs the hollow laugh of someone who is beyond caring. “I just know this ocean continues to move in the wrong direction for me.”
Increasingly during graveyard shifts, I catch myself turning my ocean ring like a devotional prayer wheel, contemplating the mercurial temperament of the she-ocean I married. Things started out well between us. After tying the knot outside the Golden Gate Bridge, the crossing to Hawaii was idyllic, as harmonious as any honeymooning couple could have hoped for. A slight misunderstanding surfaced in the doldrums mid-Pacific, but by the Solomon Islands, our relationship was back on track. On this voyage especially, I’ve taken great care to remain attentive to her moods in the hope of pre-empting any furious outbursts. Yet, for all the pampering, my thalassic bride appears wholly bent on our destruction, capable of only the briefest glimpses of matrimonial charity.
I wonder. Perhaps she takes exception to having a woman on board?
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All Rights Reserved – © 2012 Jason Lewis
>> More excerpts from The Seed Buried Deep, part two in The Expedition trilogy, will be posted in the coming weeks prior to US & Canadian publication.