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Where did all the Poetry Go?

June 23, 2012

Day 2

Local Noon Position (12:42pm Hawaii Standard Time):
By GPS: 26.39.35N by 161.01.81W
By Sextant: 26.40.2N by 161.04W

Course: 340 degrees true
Speed: 5.5 to 6.5 knots
Wind: 10 – 16 ESE
Sea: 4 – 8 feet E
Sky: 30% occluded. Mostly clear after 9am with here, there tropical cumulus. Bar: 1022 and rising–am I getting too close to the high?
Air Temp (in the cabin): 74 degrees F
Water Temp: 76.1 degrees F

Since last noon: 131
Total for passage: 278
Daily average: 139

Debris: none

Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and other Ships: none

Birds: One Fairy Tern early in the day above Murre heading east. Later a Black Footed Albatross, maybe–he didn’t pass close by. A Black Storm Petrel–all dusky dark, lightly bared underwing, no white rump, failed to check for forked tail, large for a Storm Petrel. Then a White Tail Tropic Bird heading south. First Gadfly Petrel: dark above, white below, very dark cheeks, and white strip around tail, of the large variety, very strong flier, mostly soaring–likely the Hawaiian Petrel. Then another Tropic Bird. Then a Great Frigate who came close because Murre had flushed a flying fish. Then a Newall’s Shearwater. One at a time and all before noon.


Squally overnight. I was up often to increase, decrease sail depending on where we were relative to the the approaching cloud. I could see the cells coming on the radar, but this failed to help my mood because it failed to keep me dry, and after the third, I resigned the contest, leaving Murre under a reefed jib and reefed main only. This meant we made poor headway, but I got to sleep.

By early morning we had left the realm of squalls and appear now to have entered typical trade wind sailing. No more of this huff and spit nonsense, but steady 12 to 16 knots from the ESE and a sky mostly clear save the dispersed, haughty towers of cumulus cloud. Murre is under all plain sail and frothing steadily away.

But it has taken much of the day to get back the poetry. Maybe it’s jitters for what I know we face in the north, or that I’d grown accustomed to my home, my family, my friends on Kauai, or that the cruise started so late and even then under a heavy sky. Whatever the reason I have not felt any love for this passage until today.

But today the Tropic Bird came calling.

The company of sea birds is superior in many ways except for their reticence, a disinterest in conversation evidenced by a disinterest in proximity or anything that could possibly come between them and their being on the wing. Sea birds are busy folk. Success is movement. Better to avoid eye contact.

But the Tropic Bird is a curious creature. Typically when I spot him it is because he has spotted me first and is already hovering above the masts, looking straight down at Murre and me and holding forth with his metallic squawk, a surprisingly pleasant sound for its being nothing but that, upon a subject of mystery. His pursuit may be nothing more than, “Dude, where are all the fish?”, but for some reason neither Murre nor I can suss it. Never mind; that he is talking is a good start, and we enjoy his company.

And too, the Tropic Bird combines the exotic (long, pensil-thin tail, orange beak) with the tough (stocky body always flying, never soaring like those lazy Frigates) that together endears him to this sailor. If Murre should some day give me up I shall name my next boat Tropic Bird.

Then there was the great wave. Occasionally the even, shoulder-high swell makes way for a set of larger stuff coming down from the north east. One in particular wandered through while I was sitting in the companion way hatch. Twice the height of a person he stood with crashing white hair and a body thick-set and obsidian. The sun glinted sapphire in his eyes. Then he just slid under.

I wish you could see this, for there is nothing like seeing the ocean from a small boat.

Muscular waves roll and shove at Murre who takes their force, rolls away in a feint and then shoves back, as though wave and boat are nothing more than two dogs wrestling happily on the carpet. The wind blows fresh, turning the water top into a great field of diamonds, and as far as the eye can see, these diamonds are tossed into the sky where they stick to the bottoms of cloud.

Everything is doing what it should. We’re all fine. Thanks for asking.


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