Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Journey of Perspectives

Finally writing about the passage from FL to Bahamas . . .  The one with the Gulf Stream that you only want to approach in just right winds and sea.  The one I was must fearful of.  But I decided to work on my problem with projection.  Rather than project worst-case scenario, why not stay in the moment.  The captain had picked the window judiciously.  The first night at Rodriguez had been lumpy at with Mike on anchor watch for the night, not trusting the electronics.  The seas had lessened to 2-4 foot, the wind was 10-15, and hell---we just needed to do it!

So at 4:00 am off we go.  The stars were incredible.  Bigger fuller soup bowl than I ever saw as I stood on that beautiful hill in Lineboro as a teenager.  In awe.  In these lower realms there appears to be signs of the Milky Way---nice!  Not a ship to be seen, with only 2 or so hours before sunlight. All was well.  Yet I was worried.  Our autopilot had broken, we had a fix in place but were not sure if it would last.  And then the Coast Guard’s message was finally clear enough to hear on its second hour’s transmission:  An “overloaded raft” was sighted.  Any vessels seeing this were to take coordinates and notify the Coast Guard immediately.
Now I realize my conservative associates will go off on a separate tangent at this point.  But I ask that all consider---which is more fearful---a journey across the Gulf stream without an autopilot or a journey across the Gulf stream with too many people in a raft illegally?  Thank God I was not likely to see them---my liberal associates understand.
Here I am, a whining fearful middle class woman worried because she may actually have to steer her own boat when there were a raft full of desperate people leaving a communist regime.  Have I ever wanted something so much that I was willing to take such a physically dangerous risk?
Next we turned on George, the autopilot, and gave a cheer when he worked!  Not only did this amazingly simple plastic 20 year old mechanism work, but worked throughout the 12 hour trip.  So the fear of steering my own ship, diminished even further.
As I sit complacently balancing with each swell of wave, watching the radar screen, scanning the horizon---a big black fly lands on my radar screen. I instantly think Live and let live.  And as I watch the fly meticulously use his front antennae to wipe saltwater from his eyes, I realize just how much bigger his journey is than mine.  A fly in 15 knots of wind over 3 foot swells of 2,000+ feet of the North Atlantic ocean.  So my butt hurts from balancing and rolling.  I’m sitting on a 41 foot Morgan who has reliably performed in situations since 1981.  This fly probably has a one month lifespan with how many hours over the ocean?
Then unbeknownst to us we began hosting songbirds.  One would fly in, hang onto a safety line, then venture onto the aft or foredeck, taking a breather, exploring, eating a gnat or two.  Sometimes there were three or four.  Some sleeping in the shelter of lines, or even the bucket.  All varieties, Butter Butts, Goldfinch, Black-capped Chicadee, Tohee, to name a few . . . not necessarily flying together, perhaps separated from their flock.  With a brain the size of a piece of rice and a lifespan of . . . These birds were heading way, way further than I was.  It was an honor to give them a short respite on their way.
Our passage to the Bahamas was blissfully uneventful.  We wore sweatshirts until 3, the one off watch covered in an afghan because it was in the 60’s.
The seas were beautiful!  And the perspective much wider than when we first crept out of the Key at 4:00 am.
Sunrise while we jumped the reef

Wearing a Butter Butt hat!

A most welcome sign

Our first sunset in Bimini, Bahamas

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