Ad Nauseam and Beyond: Part 5

...and More Conversation

I talked about Christina, and how we had so many friends in common, but we didn't really know one another. I talked about how even though we had so few interests in common, Christina always managed to find something to talk about.

As it got later, we talked less, and spent more time just looking out into the night. Or maybe we continued to talk, but I just can't remember what we talked about. It wouldn't surprise me a bit. I was exhausted, but still kept wakeful by the boat's movement.

After a while, Christina came up, bringing along her sleeping bag and teddy bear. Why hadn't we woken her up for her shift, she wanted to know. Because 'Rayne's too nice and I'm too twitchy, I thought. Because we'd had plenty of people staying awake anyhow, 'Rayne said. Ohhhh yeah. Christina laid down her sleeping bag and snuggled in. Christina had things to talk about. She'd been in two car accidents recently--people had rear-ended her. She was just recently out of physical therapy. I think I stared. (In the four weeks between this voyage and the time I managed to finish off this travelog, she was in another car accident. Ouch.)

I wondered what it was like to be on a boat after having gone through all that. Probably pretty tiring. I was suddenly glad that my inability to sleep had provided her with a bit more sleep time of her own.

I decided to use the restroom. Yes, this is the first time I'd used it all day. This probably says something about how much I'd been sweating during the day. I don't want to think about it. You probably don't want to read about it. I just wanted to say that I used a boat toilet. When boats are in motion, they sway. Sometimes when sailboats need to catch the wind just right, they lean at a steep angle. You don't want to keep your toilet bowl full of water--it would just spill out. When you go to use the toilet, the first thing you do is work a pump to fill the bowl, because up until that point, it's been empty. Then you use the bowl. Then you flip a switch, and work the pump again, and now the pump empties the bowl. No-one said what happens if you need to go to the restroom while the boat is swaying or leaning, and I didn't ask.

Piaw on "the toilet":
Of course, the rest of us male seadogs just pee off the bow or stern. I should have mentioned that to Larry.

Alone With Christina at 2:30 In the Morning

'Rayne went below to warm up for a bit, leaving Christina and I to talk. I forget what we talked about. I know that at some point during our trip, she talked about how she was going to get a job doing marketing in Hong Kong--in 1997. I could claim that we had this conversation as the time ticked on from 2:30 in the morning. It would give me an excuse for having forgotten what must have been an interesting talk. I mean, I couldn't imagine what it must be like to contemplate staying on in HK after 1997. I might have learned something if I'd remembered what she said.

And then Christina's wristwatch said that my shift was over. She, 'Rayne, and I could all seek after some needed shut-eye. Was it at this time that I felt a tugging at my pants leg? Was it at this time that Piaw, who was the person tugging at my pants leg (some of the windows of the staterooms looked out onto the deck), asked me to check on the anchor ropes to make sure that they weren't fraying? Maybe it was. At some time during the night, I did check the ropes to make sure that they weren't fraying--this would have been a sign that there was a lot of pressure on them, that there were forces trying to drag us from our anchorage. Anyhow, I think that's when it happened. And that when I got below, Christina or 'Rayne were in the process of waking up Jessica and Mike, who had the next watch. I felt safer. From now on, everyone who would be on watch was someone who struck me as being competent on a boat. I could trust them with the watch.

Piaw on fraying:
Yes, it was my fault. Well, I got up in the middle of the night because I'd remembered reading somewhere that you should check for fraying. It turned out not to be at issue, but I'm that kind of worry-wort. Sorry about that, Larry. [I think Piaw's apologizing over nothing --lahosken] Oh, and sorry about the snores too. [Hey, stop giving away what happens next! Oh, and sorry about not letting you have the last word. --lahosken]

The Lack of Land that Rocks the Cradle

I crawled into bed next to Tim. He woke up, and I explained to him that it wasn't his watch, that we'd decided to let him sleep. He said that this had been a nice thing to do. A few minutes later, I heard snoring. What? How could Tim have got to sleep so quickly? Wait a minute. I could hear Tim's breathing beneath the snoring-- someone else was snoring. It was Piaw, I figured out, his snores coming out his window, across the cockpit, and into our window.

How dare he be able to sleep? The boat was lurching. I looked around. Everything was moving. How could anyone sleep? The water slurped outside, mocking me. I stayed awake for a long time. I tried to take deep breaths, to relax, but that didn't keep the boat from moving. Finally, I lost consciousness. I think I slept four hours before I awoke in spite of myself. I tried to get back to sleep for about an hour before Piaw stuck his head in the door, saying it was 9:00 in the morning. I slithered out of bed. Piaw seemed surprised at how awake I was, so ready to get out of bed. I wanted to snarl at him that this was as awake as I was going to get.


Channel Islands... Ventura

It was about this time that I figured out I was in a bad mood. No food, no sleep, what was I doing out here? Yeah, I was in a bad mood--I would want to watch what I said. No use snarling at people on a boat. There's not a lot of space in which transmitted grumpiness can dissipate--there's just this boat.

I went up on deck and nibbled on a bell pepper for breakfast, eating half and pocketing the rest for later. (Yes, the whole of my breakfast was half a bell pepper.) I looked out at the cliff, which was the same distance from us we'd left it at last night. It still looked good. This was a pretty spot, I had to admit. It worried me how begrudging this admission was. Was I going to be like this all day? Hil pointed out a bird on shore. I allowed myself to say happy things about the bird, while I thought about how I envied that bird its place on the shore.

During the planning stages of the trip, there had been talk of doing a little walking around on one of the islands. We'd since found out that one needed a landing permit to go walking around, and we had no such permit. I'd packed frisbees; they would not see use on this journey.

Piaw on the landing permit:
We did have a permit. For Santa Rosa Island, however. Not Santa Cruz Island, where we'd anchored. I'd originally wanted to anchor out at Santa Rosa Island, and in retrospect, that's what we should have done-it was that calm! It would have been less crowded there, too.

Piaw came up on deck. Trying to keep the edge from my voice, I asked him if all-night anchor watches were the norm. This had been a thought in my head since perhaps midnight. He said that, no, usually you kept an eye on the anchor for the first couple of hours, confirm that the boat's not going anywhere, and then sleep. We'd needed the all-nighter because of the precariousness of our position. I felt a little better.

Jessica Steps Up

People breakfasted. There was some discussion about who would swim under the boat to free up our anchor line. (Remember the anchor line?) I knew that swimmer wouldn't be me. When I'm swimming in cold water, it's all I can do to get out; I don't open my eyes underwater, making it difficult to see what I'm doing. There was some uncomfortable looking around at one another. Tim said that he might do it, but he was still kind of queasy and didn't trust himself.

Jessica would do it. Jessica was going to get in the water and find out what the rope was caught on, she was going to free the rope, and she was going to free us.

Piaw on "discussion":
It was going to be either me, Mike, Hilary or Jessica. Jessica felt like she should do it since she felt responsible for letting the anchor go slack. It wasn't her fault, but once she volunteered, none of us were about to stop her.

You could tell that the water was cold by looking at it. It was still morning, and the fog had lingered. The air was cool. The water must be so cold.

Jessica dipped her toe in the water, and her jaw got tight. She dipped her foot in. "It's really cold," she said. "I mean, it's really cold." Over the course of the next few minutes, she got her legs into the water, clambered out to warm up, got back her legs back in, and eased into the water, too cold to shriek. We looked on. I was anxious. Elsewhere, people were getting the boat's shower ready for a hot shower, someone was heating water for some hot tea--getting things ready for when Jessica emerged. I looked on, too worried to look away, too wiped to do anything useful.

Jessica swam under the boat once to figure out what was going on. She emerged, having seen where the rope was caught. She went under again, stayed below longer, and emerged once more. She'd tugged on the rope, but it was caught in a space behind the rudder and she couldn't pull it loose. But the surface of the boat down there wasn't regular--if we turned the rudder all the way to one side, she might be able to pull the rope loose. Piaw spun the wheel all the way over. Jessica went under again, emerged again. Try spinning the wheel the other way, she said. At this moment, I was sure that we were going to be able to get the rope loose. Jessica, I decided, was a heroine. She went under again, and emerged again, announcing that the rope was loose. She swam a victory lap around the boat and emerged to a towel and cheers. She deserved those cheers. She'd saved the day. By this time I was thinking that if this were a story, then Jessica would be the heroine, and the rest of us would be foils which represented various failures of character. But I didn't get very far with that idea.

Triumphant Return

Jessica took a hot shower as we reeled in the anchor line (being sure not to snag it again), and the boat generally became active once more. We motored out into the fog. There was not enough wind to sail. The fog wasn't dense nor was it low; we could see rock formations on the island as we went along.


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