It’s been 3 and a half days, and we’re barely halfway. The boat is pitching and bucking and rolling like a 50-ft. mechanical bull. We’ve chafed through our outhaul and a temporary outhaul strap once, and the roller-furling line on the jib is up next after an unfriendly encounter with a 30- to 40-kt squall this morning.
Funny thing is, that squall was the one moment of comfort I’ve had in days. I awoke to the sound of raindrops on the cabin ceiling this morning and was in wonder at the smoothness of Tahina’s motion. I thought maybe the wind had died, and we were gearing up to motor. It turns out we had turned a 180 and were running with the squall, downwind. So much for small blessings. It only meant that however minor the distance, our trip was going to be a little bit longer.
The problem with going upwind is that not only is your distance magnified by the fact that you cannot sail directly against the wind but have to tack, but also that you sail directly into the waves, which pitch up steep and crash into your bow, then run under you much faster than when you are going in any other direction, producing a most uncomfortable and never-ending seatbelt-check effect…over…and over…and over…nonstop, for days, with no break. Add to this recipe for abdominal disaster the fact that we’re on a cat that is over 25″ wide, and you get not only bucking, but quadridirectional hemming and hawing of floor-raising proportions. Oh, and may I remind you, non-daggerboard cruising cats qualify as the worst boats available for making progress against the wind in terms of sailing angles.
A Day in the Life:
Last night I came off my watch in 20-kt winds and 3-meter seas, walked to that most unapproachable and forbidden place, the bow, (this is where our cabin and bathroom are), and sought to find my toothbrush. Big mistake. I paused to pee, because I’ve been resisting going below even for the most basic of bodily functions, and I think it may have been about 14 hours since my last reluctant trip to the bathroom. While on the john, I fumbled around for my toothbrush and toothpaste in the wildly lurching room, struggling not to be thrown onto the floor in midstream. As soon as found it, I made haste and got out of there, heading for the still rocking but somewhat (not much) improved aft cabin, where Jason was already asleep.
As I stood in the aft head working diligently to polish off the fur that seemed to have sprouted on my teeth in the last 24 hours (yes, I skipped my morning brush…it happens sometimes when you’re struggling to maintain the contents of your stomach against your body’s better judgment), I started to feel a title queasy. So I sprinted through the rest of the brush session, shut off the lights and hurried to bed. But then it hit me. I was too late.
My stomach screwed itself into a knot, and I leapt off the bed, stepping onto the wave-placed cattywompus cushion on the bench at its foot, which pitched me onto my knees on the floor, which was covered in some kind of hard, unyielding mass of junk, not conductive to standing of any kind. I found out later upon further inspection that it was a bag of someone’s snorkel gear. I reached for the door frame and hauled myself to my knees, made another miscalculated step as the boat lurched to port, and landed on the raised frame separating the cabin from the galley, where I hit the floor again.
Now my stomach was in rebellion, and fast, so I had to run or risk ruining Tahina’s floor-coverings. I grasped for the handrail at the stairs and tripped twice on the way up as the rising bows sent the floor up to meet my face. Finally at deck level, I ran behind Karen, stumbled out to past the helm station, and grasped at the lifelines on the starboard side. I dry heaved over the side, realizing only then, from the stream of saliva plastered down my neck and chest, that I was attempting to puke into the wind. “Aww hell,” I thought, “I need a shower anyway.” So I sat my pathetic rump down on the seat at the aft end of the windward hull and gasped for a little fresh air. About this time, Karen came outside trying to find me, having realized that blur behind her may have been a person. I was on my way back to feeling human, so I said hi from my perch in the corner and started back downstairs for bed. Jason slept through every bit of it.
This is my daily life going upwind. I daresay it may have cured me of my sailorhood. Pity me. Pity me please, and pity me so much that your pity sends a cry to the heavens to shift this wind due west so we can hurry up and get to Amanu and wallow in the calm that is its lagoon.