We expected our voyage to the islands of the South Pacific to be day after day of perfect 15 knots of wind to match perfect rolling seas. We envisioned long peaceful days with nothing to do but read, pull on the strings and eat all the delicious meals I had provisioned for the journey…errrr….eeeekkkekk screech!!!!! That film did not play.
In our journey it stormed; high winds and vicious, cross train wave action. We were tossed, smashed and wrenched across the Pacific Ocean. Doors were broken, the transmission took on salt water and the captain and crew endured their fair share of sea sickness. It was as unpleasant a voyage as one can imagine… and then we hit the doldrums. The wind died, the waves took on an even more beastly presence and with no engine to push us through to the other side, Ashika rolled from rail to rail for 2 days. There is no place to sleep eat or rest on a wallowing boat, we were in hell.
That is in no way to say we did not have some fantastic days, we did. We sailed beautifully for a day or two between storms and we chased squalls to catch wind. The tradewind breezes that had lost their cold edge and we peeled layers off as we logged the miles. And the good was sometimes off the chart amazing. The first sunny day was after the first storm, a week into our voyage. The waves had been brutal at 15 feet or more, steep and punishing from several directions at once. When I woke up on the fourth day to sunshine and a swell that had had its edges smoothed, I was famished and headed for the galley. Trying to hold on to the makings for our first real meal in days, I glanced up to see three baby dolphin surfing a wave right by the galley window. I swept all the food into the sink and joined Dois and Ginger on deck to watch these incredible actors. Hundreds of dolphin were converging on us for a joy-filled party to celebrate the end of the storm. Many would reach the boat and greet us with a jump twenty plus feet into the air, flipping and showing off their athletic talent. Some would skip on their bellies across the wave crests while others surfed down them to join Ashika's path. The antics seemed meant just for us and a more appreciative audience would have been hard to find..
The second most amazing day was a night. Sitting up in the cockpit from 1 or 2 am until 5 or 6 am can be the most brutal moments of any long distance cruise. Often, even the moon has left you and its the most dark and the most difficult to stay awake. For about 10 days of the trip there was a bio-luminescent glow in the water that was most visible in the bewitching hours after moon-set causing any water movement to twinkle like Tinkerbell. You could see fish of different sizes zipping in and out around the boat and I am completely awake, mesmerized by all the unimaginable beauty. The last night of the bio was the most striking. It was intensely bright when we sailed into a field of hundreds of manta rays. Flashing triangle shapes in blue twinkling lights set off with each stroke of their wide and graceful flippers. Fish were creating their tinker bell trails between the large blue flashes of triangles, and the show seemed to go on from horizon to horizon. I was reminded of the Beatles song; Magical Mystery Tour and I would happily submit myself to another 28 days of terror for just one hour spent in a sea of bio-luminescent magic.