Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Twenty-five days out now, our longest time ever at sea.

We're at the point where the days blow by us without our hardly noticing. First we wake up, then suddenly it's time for dinner and night watch. The days pour through our water. But we seem to barely get closer to Hawai'i. More than a thousand miles to go still.

Luckily our boys are old hands at this. They may get a little hyper at the end of the day, but they don't bug us with questions about how much longer it will take. When they do give into curiosity and make tentative openings along those lines, trying to see if I'll be forthcoming about when we might make landfall, I fall back on the vagueness that has gotten me this far as a combo captain/father.

More than a week, I say. And that's all I'll commit to.

Elias had the spot of the day today. He was at the rail, taking a leak, when his exclamations of wonder roused the rest of us from our blue sky reveries.

A pod of long-finned pilot whales had materialized just next to the boat. Close, but if Elias hadn't been at the rail it seems we might have sailed right by them, oblivious.

What a sense of wonder they gave us, these 20 foot long sleek black cetaceans that punctuated the endless expanse of waves and paid us no mind.

Whatever follies might be playing out in the world ashore, I can confirm that pilot whales still roam the wild plains of the eastern tropical Pacific. Which I find very reassuring.

Elias also plucked another mahi mahi out of the sea today, which gave us all a chance to be filled with a sense of wonder at Alisa's curried fish soup.

I've finished a draft of a science paper on this trip. Anyone who has tried to write a science paper while at sea on a family yacht can tell you what a very bad idea it is. The work gets done very inefficiently, and the experience of the passage suffers somewhat from too much frowning screen time after midnight.

I have also, and this is much more in the spirit of making long passages, discovered Jorge Luis Borges. I picked up a new translation of his Collected Fictions on a recent trip to America, just the sort of spur of the moment purchase at a bookstore that educated people used to make before You Tube was invented. I've finally cracked the book open on this trip, and what a pleasure it is to fill that particular void in my experience of the world and finally read Borges.

He has a particular gift for the aphorism. I plan to start my next scientific talk by quoting this one:

"You will reply that reality has not the slightest obligation to be interesting. I will reply in turn that reality may get along without that obligation, but hypotheses may not."

And, more simply, and very much to the heart of someone who, in the company of his children, watches schools of flying fish exploding from the sapphire water all day long, each lonely fish held aloft on wings that look like nets of diamonds:

"In this world, beauty is so common."
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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  1. Finally we are sailing long passages in the same ocean! Wish you a pleasant last run to Hawaii, miss you all. Of course we are thinking of you as we start our journey!

  2. For one reason or another I have been an absent reader for the past few months and for that I'm sorry. Today as I seat at my desk in the office here in Australia, and I read your post I just can't help but feel a sense of calm that all is good with the world just as it is. Your writing style really works for me, keep up the great work Mike!

    PS. I'm really looking forward to your next book ;)

    Fair winds,

  3. Nice imagery, thank you Mike. I know you won't read this until Hawaii, but fair winds my friend.

  4. What is it with the wind at the moment? I have had 2 months of trying to get my boat from Sydney to Lake Macquarie. I only have a little engine and it would have taken 24 hours without a bit of breeze. Got my wish on the weekend and got her home.

    Blow wind blow but not too much.