As it turns out, we're now hoping that we'll actually leave at dawn on Monday the 12th.
There is a wonderful bit of symmetry here.
Summer solstice, June the 21st, 2007, was at one time the target date that we set as the very latest day we might leave Kodiak to begin this trip. We actually limped out of town on June the 23rd.
Leaving port always turns out to be a deal for us. In those early days we pointed to a crew member in diapers as our ready-made excuse. These days we point to my science work load.
|Who's the old guy fitting deadlights on Galactic?|
I figure there's an even chance that we'll hit a gale up north. So I'm fitting deadlights, those extra-strong polycarbonate outer window that protect our portlights. We'll leave with the trysail bent to the mast and lashed in place, the naval pipe plugged with plumber's putty, etc., etc. We always figure that the best time to prepare for bad weather is when we're still in port.
But I won't go all out and attach the series drogue to the stern cleats and lash it to the deck in its bag, ready to deploy at any moment. That sort of preparation is fine for New Zealand-Chile or South Georgia-South Africa, but it is summer in this hemisphere after all, and I don't foresee things getting so nautical that we actually have to resort to the drogue.
So, you see: restrained pessimism.
And, more than anything, I'm struck by what a different crew it is that is eyeing this last homeward passage. Early on in our trip, the idea of a gale at sea made my knees weak. Now, we just think in terms of trips that fall along a continuum of easy to less so. We'll set out from Hawai'i and see what we get. I'm reminded of an account I read by a 19th century inhabitant of the northwest Alaskan Arctic, writing about his Inupiat companions' attitude towards the hazards of winter. They understood better than anyone the dangers of winter weather, he wrote, but they evinced no concern over them.
I think that we might have earned just ever so small a modicum of that attitude when it comes to long passages outside of the tradewind belt.