October 11, 2016

The Passage so Far--Cartegena or bust

It seems Iridium and blogger aren't playing nice and posts with photos are hard to read. So you'll have to imagine the fifteen-year-old sitting on the bow patiently pointing out pooping spotted Atlantic dolphins, or the pod of mamas and teenie tiny babies (they were common dolphins), or the lightning that lit up last night's ocean to a bright steal-white or even that five-mile swath of garbage soup.

Passages always feel like suspended time. We're not where we were; we're not where we're going. There's the sameness; day after day of sea and sky. Except neither the sea nor sky are the same one moment to the next. Moments at sea range from sublime, to frightening, to forgettable. But unlike sublime moments on land; say when you sea a mountain at sunrise or catch sight of your first wild grizzly, there's no simple way to give someone directions so they can experience the same thing. The infant dolphins that came at dusk yesterday, when the seas were mirrored and pink and the breeze was like warm breath on my neck, aren't something I can tell you how to find. I can barely describe how the mamas escorted their wee offspring into our bow waves and then gently pushed them back in place as the tiny torpedoes caught back eddies and awkwardly somersaulted out of the flow.
It seemed mean to laugh.

We read lots on passage and watch the ocean. Yesterday, when the first pieces of garbage floated past, I recalled how 20-years-ago on little Ceilydh we'd alter our course to go inspect anything we found floating at sea. It so clearly didn't belong there--we'd check to see if it was a message in a bottle, lost cargo or wreckage. Now it's different. The first time we came across a garbage gyre I assumed it was flotsam and jetsam from a wrecked ship. It's so incongruous to be in the middle of the ocean and see debris across the horizon. Most of it's so small it's unrecognizable--but always there's flipflops, water bottles and coloured bits plastic that caught some consumer's eye. If it's calm, and I can look down into the water, I can see bits of plastic film. I call it soup because it's not a solid mass. It's the individual pieces of garbage caught by a current, swirled together and broken up by the power of the ocean. If we took a net and scooped up all the rubbish from yesterday's patch we could have collected enough plastic to fill our boat.

The miles are going slowly this passage. It's not just the light winds--the 460 miles are loaded with meaning. This is our last Atlantic passage. In the San Blas islands we'll cross little Ceilydh's long-ago wake. Soon enough we'll no longer be exploring, but revisiting. We'll have done more than turn the corner for home, we'll be headed home.

And so we savour sailing into the sunsets as we make our final purely westward miles.
At 11/10/2016 3:30 PM (utc) our position was 11°34.76'N 074°43.60'W

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