The Boatist

Sailboat Ownership, Translation Work and Tales of Minor Adventure

Retire early, be passionate, don't worry, die poor

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ocean Crossing Memories Rekindled by Sunrise

A transcendental moment of reflection.
Early in the morning I finished my 30-minute exercise session, opened the skylight and saw this sunrise. I felt like a child again, felt the thrill of discovering something completely new. Before I knew it, I was whispering "Here comes the it comes."

When I crossed the Atlantic I had my share of these transcendental experiences: sunrises, sunsets and nights glittering with millions of stars so bright and vivid the mast seemed to almost graze them. I loved the night shift. On some nights I would be treated to a swirling fluorescent wake trailing from the rudder, so luminescent you'd swear the boat had an underwater floodlight. You can't buy this magic any more than you can hype yourself into living it deeply if that's not your game.

No chart plotter, no radar, no AIS, no shortwave radio, no computer, no roller furler, no automatic pilot (just a windvane with a loose connection) and not even self-tailing winches.

Except for food and water, Jakatar voyaged as lean as a roving monk. A crumpled photocopied chart of the whole Atlantic, a VHF radio, a handheld GPS and an old plastic sextant with a complicated little calculator which I had no clue how to use, those were our tools. In a worst case scenario, even without a compass, I could follow the sun and the stars that I had become familiar with. They would surely guide me to Europe or Africa.

A 3-day storm was followed by doldrums. We were plodding along on a Corbin 39 cutter: strong and steady, with a mast held in place by a forest of thick shrouds, stays and running backstays. The hull was built in 1982 but the boat was launched only in 2000 and all the rigging was new.

We were sailing in the midst of a shipping lane from New York to Europe. Ships at night were our only obstacles; flickering fireflies that would emerge in the dark horizon and quickly become two mast lights as big as the moon. In fact, one night the full moon was suddenly unveiled from behind a black cloud triggering a rush of adrenaline that jolted me out of a semi-hypnotic state as I mistook it for a ship about to run us over.

That was our crossing, now tucked in my memory like a faded magazine article.

The extraordinary sunrise this morning was my muse and inspiration for next year. There's always next year.

Drifter Sailing
The best siesta in the world

Sailing with Women
Saki  the Greek (sorry Saki, forgot how to spell your name) and our three women aboard.

Reading at sea
My brother Cesar, working on his tan and enriching his mind.

Berths at Horta Marina
Jakatar docked at Horta, Azores.
Horta Marina Wall
Karl, the fourth crew member. A brilliant guy with a huge appetite.

Ships at sea
Night is falling, just me and the stars (and those damned ships).


  1. Horacio, your turning into a bloging fiend and I can't keep up. More, more! Great descriptions... got me motivated for the hopefully near future.
    Laughed out loud with the "or Africa"!
    I'm already feeling the effects of being on the hard. I miss the night skies and sun rises. It's gonna be a long cold winter but the motivation is flowing thanks to you this mind f%^&$ing Monday morning in the city.

    1. I'm happy to be motivating you, myself and all or some of my readers.
      Your blog has also become my favourite because of your unique voice that rises above the crowd. Whether the boat is in Portugal, Greece, Fiji or Mexico, what matters is the voice emanating from those wonderful things called sailboats, the vessels of today's Don Quixotes in this increasingly bland world.
      Holy crap! I'm sounding like me writing essays years ago at University when I was a rebel without a boat.
      Plan and scheme my friend and next season will bring you twice the joy.

  2. Oh Horacio, stop, you make me blush. Unique voice...Now lets get this straight. YOUR the writer, I'm just a clown who couldn't write an essay if my life depended on it! Boat chaos and stress got me rambling.
    Nuff said.

    1. The final verdict is: Unique Voice is not good grammar, writing style or technique.
      Unique is Original, Entertaining, Intelligent, Daring (as opposed to bland pussyfooters too scared to step out of the box).
      You're not going to win any writing awards, but you'd be surprised how much fun it is to read your rambling wit.