Wednesday, September 14, 2016

By the Numbers/Is Life Better In Reverse?

I think it might be because of the way that my day job is so number-intensive, but I tend to be pretty relaxed about quantifying various aspects of our life afloat.

Our fuel consumption, in liters per hour? The size of our water tanks? Our average daily run?

These are numbers that most of our traveling tribe of global gallivants, our fellowship of cashed-up (or not) misfits, our fellow full-time sailors, that is, can readily rattle out. These are reasonably important numbers, after all, if you're gonna go a-cruisin'.

Of those three questions, I can only answer the middle with a rough sort of certitude. Six hundred liters, and no, we don't have any way of gauging them at sea. To the first question I can offer a dumb look, and to the last I can only say that we more or less guesstimate 150 nautical miles if we're doing something so gross as trying to plan a passage. But really we don't know. Most of the time, I don't even calculate our daily run. I think it might be that the little corner of my psyche that is given over to the poetic rebels at all the time that I put into the scientific endeavor, and that poetic crumb of me vigorously defends sailing as its turf.

Bugger off, it says to my over-developed science side. Who cares how many miles we made? We'll get there when we get there.

Recently, though, we have all been having fun at guessing the daily run. It's enjoyable when we're putting up numbers like we have been - a string of oddly regular 178-mile days, interrupted by an occasional 180. This in spite of light winds, and thanks to the booming current off the northeast corner of South America that our mate back in Tassie has kindly been steering us into thanks to the magic of online current mapping.

Here's a startling set of numbers. Looking at the chart to pass the nightwatch hours, I see that from our current position off the coast of Suriname, we're actually closer to Kodiak (5,550 nm) than to Hawaii (5,930). The magic of a spherical globe!

And, there's this number: 40,000. We've kept the odometer on our GPS running ever since we set out from Alameda on this boat, and we passed over that notable number a few days ago. That's a lotta saltwater, I can tell you.

Oh, and this numerical correction to my post about the equator. Alisa points out to me that we were in the Southern Hemisphere (bless it) for five years and change, not four.

And, finally, this number: in a bit more than a week Alisa and I will have been married for 15 years. Those of you who were there for the party will doubtless marvel at how quickly the time has gone since.

So that's life by the numbers. As for living in reverse, which is not the Galactic way, I can tell you, that is a bit of grudging acknowledgement of the fact that we are now without a operating gearbox, and cannot engage the motor in forward. I say our acknowledgement is grudging because, at least at sea, it's no consideration at all. Who cares about the bloody gearbox out here? True, its demise did lead us to forego a visit to French Guyana and our friends on Oberon. We sorely felt that missed visit with long-lost friends, but it's hard to stay down long when you're on passage.

And we all seem to be thriving on this passage. Except occasionally for poor six-year-old Eric, who can't yet engage himself by reading for hours, and dearly wishes his ten-year-old brother, who can and does, would agree to play with him a lot more often.

But aside from that one little hiccup, we are thriving.

To whit: Alisa and I sat in the cockpit today, marveling that the sea could be so flat. We had honestly forgotten how gentle and easy tradewind miles can be.

Eric reeled in his first-ever tuna yesterday, a sardine-sized skipjack that did us well for lunch. You should have seen him, with the fighting belt strapped uselessly around his little waist. He was so pleased. And he is always so eager to see if a fish I am butchering is a male or female, and to see what's in its stomach. Definitely the child of biologists.

Elias, meanwhile, reeled in a blooody *marlin* the other day, with a little help from me. Needless to say, we released it. And the quiet smile that graced Elias' face for the rest of the day came from somewhere deep within.

Alisa occasionally mutters something along the lines of, "this is the best of life", or "I'm so happy".

The sea is blue, we are completely on our own and glad for it, and the days go so fast that it's hard to hold onto them.

Who could argue with her?
This post was sent via our high-frequency radio as we're far from internet range. Pictures to follow when we reach internet again. We can't respond to comments for now, though we do see them all!

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