It is just over one week since our departure from La Cruz. Progress may be slow, but our experience very rich. I'm struggling with the night and day differences, both literally and metaphorically speaking.
I am puzzled as to why, with good winds on the quarter and satisfactory boat speed of 5 knots, we are still getting tossed around. We have entered some funky zone where we have good winds, Northerly at 10 knots, but swells coming in from the NW hit us on the beam. Swells are fine if they come at long intervals. But these are more like short confused waves that slap us from different angles. The result: slatting sails, crashing and banging of the boom, and very uncomfortable motions. As S.V. Syzygy put it, it's like being in a fun house with all the unpredictable movements, except that I am not laughing. Inside the cabin, there's only so much one can take of the various banging noises. I talked to a friend on the Pacific Puddlejumpers Net this morning about our state and he said, "I'm glad to hear that we're not the only ones experiencing the lousy sloppy seas! Misery loves company."
During the day, it's simply a lot of work. On the first day, Mike made some adjustments and the motion was immediately better. I even thought, 'you cannot change what comes your way, but you can change your reaction to it... how profound!' Several hours later, when our ass end was lifted up and dropped down sideways again, the Hallmark card moment went out the window.
At night, it's a lot of work and I'm scared shitless. The sloppy conditions seem to be worse and waves turns into Gremlins, those nasty buggers. We know the importance of rest, so we do our best to keep our shifts and carry on at night. Generally, I do not have much trouble with sleep. On our previous passages, five days being the longest in duration, I've managed to have fitful precious rests. But currently, even with the lee cloths on the bunks, I am not snug as a bug in a rug. I cringe at every loud bang and have a knot in my left shoulder. My whole body is still tense while sleeping. At this rate, a circumnavigation should result in a six pack in my stomach... along with no hair from all the stress. Yes, I think it is the mental strain that is worse. Under stress and mental fatigue, everything seems to be magnified and the catastrophic thinking mode kicks in: 'Oh gees, the crashing and banging is just too much! Is the chainplate going to rip out? The repetitive strain can't be good for the rigging!' Just when I think I've dozed off, I wake up, startled, "Is Mike still here? He'd better be wearing his harness", and lay down again.
Night after night, this kind of mental and physical fatigue seems to accumulate and spills over to the day time as well. I try to recover during the day, but still wake up panicked, "Is Mike still here?" Feeling like a zombie most of the day is not fun. I feel like I'm on a month-long night shift schedule. Then again, after about the second crappy night, during the day, we witness a very large pod of dolphins swimming by our boat, at times fully jumping out of the water. Their twists and turns and powerful movements happened three feet below us and their energy was amazing. It was truly an awe-inspiring moment. Despite the zombie-like state, that cheered us up.
We had started to get into somewhat of a routine, but the last three nights were terrible. It has to get better. Rest is not a luxury, it is essential, because we're in it for the long haul this time.
The good and bad moments seem to fluctuate in extremes, like night and day difference. Let's face it, we're not in a storm, we're not rounding Cape Horn. It's just a simple fact that we will have crappy nights like we are experiencing now and we will have magical nights. We will be relaxed and lazy or scared and strained. The sea will not choose when to be kind to us or give us a break because we are tired. I can't think of a more useless thing than being pissed off at the weather or the sea state. Yet we still do it. The highs and lows, my friends... what can I say? Perhaps Dickens can help me out here:
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, ......"