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Toughness

July 4, 2012

July 4

Day 14

Local Noon Position (12:28HST)
GPS: 48.06.80N by 155.07.90W
Sextant: 48.09.1N by 155.05W
Continue to be amazed at how little sun it takes to get a sun shot, and how, in mild conditions like these, a seemingly poor shot can yield good results.

Course: 40 degrees true
Speed: 5.5 knots
Wind: 10 – 12 WSW
Sea: 2 -5 feet
Sky: Low and gray all day
Bar: 1030, dropping to 1025 in the afternoon…careful!
Air Temp (in the cabin): 45 degrees (when I woke)
Water Temp: 43 degrees
Sails: All sails up. Wind on port quarter.

MILES
Since last noon: 131
Total for passage: 1699
Daily average: 121
Miles to Sitka: 886

SIGHTINGS SUMMARY
Debris: None.

Ships and other piloted vessels: None.

Birds: No albatrosses at all today. Got an I.D. for the Sooty Shearwater (dark above, light patches on underwing coverts, often sitting water-top in groups). One or two white-rumped storm petrels. Other gray jobs w/out I.D. But sea pretty empty.

DAY SUMMARY

Yesterday morning, whale spouts in the medium distance, a large pod by the six or eight puffs of white I saw glinting in the only unguarded sun we would see that day. The blows started dead ahead and I was as pleased to see them move out of our course as I was to see them at all.

This morning, nothing so dramatic. A knot of kelp, for one thing, followed by another knot of kelp, followed by no sun, but continuing layers of low and gray. I have searched the “wax lyrical” files under the category of “low gray cloud sometimes giving way to high gray cloud, sometimes ragged low, sometimes variously shaded, but usually simply low and gray, often with close fog, also gray” and have come up empty. It’s not that my surroundings are unbeautiful so much as they are undifferentiated. What am I supposed to say?

Two things cheer me. One, the temperature dropped by the usual three degrees overnight according to this morning’s reading. Down to 45, to be exact. But it came back up to 48 by noon. That’s a first. Two, the wind has been steady from the west these last days and our day-runs are solid. We’re making good time.

But the sea is empty. Even the Albatross has wandered off elsewhere.

I sat in the companionway hatch this morning pondering toughness. Pondering how yesterday I didn’t have any of it (I gave it up for whining) and today I have some. Pondering what the quality constitutes. There are things it is not. It is not brute strength, though that can help, or a practice of inuring oneself to pain. And it is not anything as ennobling as resolve–toughness does not come from planning, setting a goal. Rather, toughness is nothing but a set of mind. It is simple stubbornness. It is a cussedness. Toughness says “move forward” when all the evidence says “run away” simply because it hates being told what to do.

My father-in-law has on the wall of his main room a painting I admire. At first glance it appears as though a fishing smack has grounded on a lee shore in a gale. Winds are raging, the sky is fierce with ragged cloud, and waves upon the beach are heavy and dark and smashing. The smack looks to be taking a beating. A man in the foreground is hauling a line ashore. In fact, this is a typical day in the life of these boats and fishermen in the North Sea. The shore is a raging lee shore to be sure, but the smack is not wrecked; rather its being prepared to launch. It’s about to go out to earn a day’s pay; off that beach, through that surf and close hauled in that wind for the banks. Peter described the story as I stood gobsmacked before the painting.

I thought of that this morning when I thought of toughness.

end

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One Comment
  1. Lavonna permalink
    July 5, 2012 6:22 am

    Bruce looked up the weather forecast for Sitka this morning. 55* and 2 days of sun this week. I wonder if by than you’ll feel it a bit warm? LR

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