Last night I hung out with Emily for a while. My cousin J and I often talk about poems and books and, Emily Dickinson being a mutual favourite of our poets, she has become for us just ‘Emily’. What a woman.
For one who never saw the sea and spent most of her life shut away from the world, a recluse, her poems are blindingly astute. It was a happy couple of hours wrapped in my fleecy blankets, drinking hot chocolate and pulling out lines for my cabin wall and in my Logbook.
One line from a poem called ‘The Inevitable’ struck me as particularly apt for my present situation of being between two storms, noting ‘Tis harder knowing it is due, than knowing it is here’. Before we were through with our storm at the start of this week my weather router Lee had already told us of the next low, due on the 6th. Happily that has been pushed back to the 7th – small mercies. This means that as of tomorrow we will be treated to winds of 40-50 knots and some rather quick swinging of said winds as they rev themselves up, which will make for some rather confused sea states. This in turn makes capsizes even more likely.
We rolled once the other day and I was surprised we didn’t clock more moments upside down, though grateful. I was grateful too that the rudder was the only thing we lost – well, that and one of my knives on deck. I kicked myself for not having taken the rudder in ahead of the rough, though had decided beforehand that the then slightly subdued forecast conditions would be OK. Still, what’s done is done. And of all the things we could have had ripped away, the rudder impinges least on our safety, so we didn’t do too badly. And of course it means that at least we now don’t have a rudder to lose! (I am yet to discover exactly what it will mean for our steerage…)
I am currently waiting for the wind to change so that I can pull in the sea anchor and get some miles in. There is an 18 hour period where we can gain some all important North again. We have lost about 40 miles to the SE these last few days and with this incoming storm we stand to lose another sizeable chunk. With just 300 miles to go to Adak and a closing weather window, every mile is precious. There is another low pressure lining up to come and play on the 11th or thereabouts too, though I don’t know if that might help progress or hinder it. I only know that it will be a test of mind, body and boat to get through it.
It is an exhausting thing to lie strapped to your bed, often in a state of nervous anticipation (ok, sometimes outright fear), sleep-deprived, damp, alone and voluntarily half-starving and dehydrating yourself so as to avoid needing the loo. The other day felt like being mid fight after a few rounds with a boxer – tired already and being reminded that the minutes were ticking down until the next round. And then being reminded that in another couple of days there would be another big fight. And almost certainly more before safety and sleep await at the end of the road.
Though I think fight is the wrong word. This is the ocean and nature is, and always has been, boss out here on elemental matters. There is no fighting between She and I. The only fight is with myself and Chimpy: to stay calm, to stay focussed, to stay as positive as possible and contain and corral the fear and negative chatter and remember, in the wilds of it, that all storms will pass, even the really grumpy ones.
And now to hot food – packing in the calories ahead of our time on the oars this afternoon and evening. It’s all about opportunities out here – row, eat, sleep, pee, wash, eat… – because from each few days to the next we have no idea what this beautiful crazy place will throw at us. We just hope that over the next few weeks we might be thrown enough opportunities to row it home to Alaska.
I still shiver with delight at that word. ALASKA! And then I reign Chimpy back in and remind ourselves that we still have a long row and probably many storms ahead. This next 300 are clearly going to be harder won than the last.
Thanks folks for all the lovely comments via the blog, Twitter etc. And thanks too for all the donations to our L2L charities. We have just 20 of the limited edition L2L Buffs left, so if you would like one, then get your £20 in to the donations page pronto!
All salty best,
Sarah, Happy Socks and Chimpy x
P.S: Had our second sealion visit of the journey last night. Crazy wee thing, all these miles from land…
P.P.S: Family Tuna didn’t stay to see out the storm. We are now recruiting for new fishy followers.
Replies to comments:
Jane: A sunfish jumping?! Cannot imagine one jumping. They are definitely in my Top 5 favourite fish list.
Bruce Ellen: Lots of contacts lining up, yes. Still a ways to go to get there yet!
Twin Katy: Chuckled at the cake story. Will email when chance.
Sarah Wilson: No quakes, just storms out here!
JETWAKE GLOBAL: Onwards logistics will depend on what is possible, but will likely involve Happy Socks being boated on to the mainland before on to Nova Scotia. Hopefully this season, or it may need to wait until the spring. Time will tell! I will fly home and return to Adak in the spring with Justine to paddle eastwards to the mainland.