Friday, August 3, 2012

Bora Bora to Niue

Echo crossed 1100 nautical miles of deep blue sea to arrive in her current port of call, Niue. Again, the voyage was refreshing and relaxing, a chance to escape from it all, a chance to drop off the face of the earth for 11 days and enjoy simply being at sea. Sailing, for me, is like many things in life. Joy is found in the journey as much as the destination.

I landed a Dorado on day one. It's delicious meat was a reminder of how beautiful and simple life at sea is. Few things are as satisfying as eating fresh fish that was caught just moments before. Sailing conditions were optimal. A healthy breeze filled Echo's sails for the first few days of the voyage. Over those days I averaged five knots with only one sail up. I could have easily made seven by hoisting another sail, but why? I didn't want to arrive sooner, despite the reported beauty of my destination. Again, I felt connected to the ocean, moving forward with her gentle breezes, and relaxing over her seemingly endless expanse of beauty.

However, a great sense of relaxation is not the only feeling that the sea has to offer, and offer more it did. Excitement took hold when winds grew to over 25 knots. Echo pounced forward over driving waves, throwing water droplets to the side that shone like pearls in the sun. The boat began to race forward, the lines stretched, the rigging groaned, the wind sang songs as it howled through the rigging, and I had a grin from ear to ear. How exciting it is to be propelled by the wind, the boat pushing forward and moving the ocean aside. 

Excitement at sea can unexpectedly mutate into fear, as it did on this particular voyage. An intermediate stay, one of the stainless steel cables that supports Echo's wooden mast, broke due to the strain. In such heavy winds, her mast would snap like a twig without it. My heart pounded as I rounded up to change tacks, something had to be done before my boat was crippled. I kept the mast upright, and managed to fix the cable while at sea, hundreds of miles from help. Once again I was confident in the rig, and once again my fear turned to a sense of pride in knowing that I am self-sufficient. 

All of these swings in emotion are what make a sea voyage so satisfying and wonderful. Everything that happens at sea is a direct result of decisions I have made myself. My destiny is formed solely by my own actions. Each of the emotions I feel is so very real. True relaxation, because I have no responsibilities other than the safety of my ship. True excitement, as I dash forward and feel the wind on my face. True fear, as the rigging fails, potentially putting myself in grave danger. True pride, when I am able to solve my own problems and carry on, no matter what the circumstance. Every one of these emotions touches me to the core, because each is so raw and so undiluted.
moored in paradise

After eleven days of sailing I arrived in Niue, a limestone rock in the middle of the South Pacific. My voyage was complete, I had done what I set out to do. I had overcome obstacles and felt the joy of accomplishment yet again. I am surrounded by indescribable beauty ashore, but already dream of the next time I get to challenge the elements and experience the swings of being at sea again.

1 comment:

  1. Keep us informed Rob on the Tonga book idea.

    Regards, Michael O'Sullivan Architect.