Friday, April 19, 1996

SEA April 19: Little Cayman to Grand Cayman

Sunset. Greasy warmth slithers in wafts from the galley hatches. Sextants and people, both stern and intense, mill around on the quarterdeck. Guitar chords and inaudible words travel over the Caribbean Sea...

After a month at sea, I rarely notice the salt in the moist evening breeze ... At noon today I had helped to maneuver this ship over 2088.8 nm -- through green, reef stained water, over 4112 mile deep blue ocean and even onto Cayman Brae twice.

I know her, this ship, She speaks in creaking rhythms, rocks me in enchanting caresses and holds air in her sails for me to breathe. But she has also tossed me from my bunk, burned my hands with her hemp and frightened me with her height. I know her, but I do not know all of her. She mocks my mistakes, but forgives easily. She harbors knowledge that is not easily won.

I have finally met the ocean. I hear her bubble against the hull-- singing a lullaby as I drift to sleep. To me she has meant freedom and confinement. She has buoyed me up and she has nearly drown me. I have longed for her on land, but cried to her for safe harbor. To me she has meant Beauty -- colors, smells, reflections, waves and, though rarely, I have hated her. But she forgives me.

I knew the shore, but I have now met the ocean...

First JWO today. We sailed out of Little Cayman under a single reefed main, mainstay sail, forestay sail and later the jib. We quickly struck the forestay sail and set the course. I called everything .... In Rum Cay I got to watch the process -- the sails going up, the boat turning, speed increasing and roll returning. this time I made it happen. It was, as it always is, beautiful...

I can only hope that when I go home people can be patient with me. I want to be able to explain the beauty of what we did today, the wonder of watching the stars cross the sky, the accomplishment of a great sun line, the excitement of a good furl or the simple happiness that a short dip in the ocean can give. I have been made a slave to beauty and wonder.

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