Monday, October 19, 2009

Sailing the Blue Pacific (part two)

An old Island truck....having seen better days

In this post I was going to try to explain  how Captain Toma managed to sail a crippled sailboat from the equator on to Hilo, Hawaii.  However, after reading through our ship's log I ran across several passages that may help to also give you a better sense of my state of mind, and of the overwhelming feeling of loneliness that began to seep into my sense of self-preservation.

Let me remind you of our seagoing motto...."What is difficult on land is damn near impossible on a moving boat ... And boats should always be moving!"

 Except for maybe reading a good book

April 2, 1983, Day #10, LOG READS 1843, 0300 hours
.....our 3rd bird has landed on board tonight!   It is supposedly a bad omen for seafarers to have a bird land on their boat.  It represents distress.  Incredibly so, our first bird, an old scraggly albatross,  tried to land on Toma's head the night we lost our rudder.  We were both laughing and crying about that one.  I remember thinking at the time..."Boy, did you pick the wrong boat!  We're all going down with the ship!

April 3, 1983, Day # 11, LOG READS 1934 miles, Easter Sunday, 0145 
My watch with an almost cloudless sky, half moon, and NO WIND. We are only doing about 2-3 knots.  I hope that we don't get becalmed. Toma is beginning to work on a steering paddle.  He thinks that it might help to turn the boat if and when we should need to use the motor.

 April 4, 1983, Day # 12, LOG READS 1995 miles
It's 0300, my second watch tonight. We are still trying to make our way north and are just barely doing so....yesterday was our slowest day yet. It is terrible to sit here and listen to the sail flop.  There is hardly any wind, and this boat doesn't sail without it. 
Yesterday  I boiled a couple eggs and we colored them.  It was a very quiet, peaceful Easter Sunday. Sunshine and a very smooth ocean allowed us to open up the hatches and let the cabin air out.  Saw a school of dolphin. Looking forward to a little more north today. Toma still claims that we are not in the doldrums...I hope that he's right.  He usually is.

Clue # 1  
This photo shows Homer's stern with our self-steering-vane (we called her BIG MAMA), and the life preserver with our EPERB devise attached.  This small wind-activated paddle,  the very small paddle that is attached to it and resting in the water had a great deal to do with our eventual success of reaching Hawaii safely! 

Clue #2

We hauled the good ship Homer out in Papeete for hopefully a smooth sail home.  We scrubbed her bottom, and she had a shiny, freshly painted hull, and a clean keel and rudder.

April 6, 1983,  Day # 15,  LOG READS 2106 miles, 0800 hours
Last night was a pounder.  We picked up a good NE wind, but the seas were so rough that it made the motion of boat very violent.  At 0300 we hove-to to stabalize the motion. We are both very tired.  We are now getting ready to unleash the head sail and try to do a little day sailing...still going north!!!  We have wind and heavy seas, but so far no rain.

 April 7, 1983, Day # 16, LOG READS 2242 miles, 0100 hours
I'm on my second night watch. It's tough fighting sleep, and I'm starting to think that I need to write some thoughts down....
As I watched the moon rise tonight my mind started turning over the events of the past couple of weeks.  We are so vulnerable to life and death on this ocean, this planet.  We've had a crash course this week in how quickly life can end and how little control you can choose to have, or not have, in regard to your own life pattern.
Our minds and our wills have gone full-circle. We went from total discouragement and almost ready to give up, to the ... Yes, I really do care.  So, get out of my way, here I come, and please let me try harder ... attitude.  It is really something to look back on.  I hope that we never forget how important it is to keep our lives in perspective.
To continue to remember what is important and separate that from all those little everyday attitude challenges.  I want to continue to remember as I did when it seemed that we were going to lose everything.  At that moment in time my mind flashed on home, close friends,  mom, and my dog.  How terrible it felt to be losing Toma, thinking that we were not going to get to grow old and crotchety together. 
I'd like to be able to remember these things when I become tired and irritated.  Like today when we were not moving, except continuously up and down, and I became grumpy and impatient.  I forgot for the moment that I was so very lucky to be alive!  Now, I only can hope that our determination and our will to survive can get us through the rest of this journey.  I hope that I can look back on this some day and still be able to appreciate what was not taken from me.  These things that we continue to work and fight for because they are important!  Life; not death.  Home; not just a place to live.  Friends; to see their faces and hear their laughter.  To see my little black dog wag her white-tipped little tail.  To hug my mother and listen to her non-stop talking ....  And Toma at 85 ...cringe!

Ok, that's it for today.  I have a little more to tell, but I've put you through enough for one post.  Hang in there.  I'll finish next time...I promise!


  1. Oh I think I could have read this all night.
    What an incredible journey.

    I've never sailed like this...but with your words, I think I can imagine just a bit what it would be like.

    Thank you.

  2. I am enjoying your adventure. Your words bring it to life in my mind. I am a chicken when it comes to sailing.


  3. That is one place I would not like to discover the doldrums. I just can't even imagine going to sea unless it was a medical emergency or worse.

    After World War II I was on a ship at sea and went over the side on a steel ladder of steps held up by a chain and carried an old metal underwood typewriter in a metal box. When i got to the bottom, onto the landing I was supposed to step over into a landing craft that came alongside.

    When the ship rolled I would be 30 feet in the air and the other way underwater or setting in water hoping and praying. I did make it but the crew were all leaning over watching. I had the feeling they were disappointed that I made it. lol

  4. MJ, what a great post, love to read the logs! Looking forward to more! :)