|A transcendental moment of reflection.|
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.
|The best siesta in the world|
|Saki the Greek (sorry Saki, forgot how to spell your name) and our three women aboard.|
|My brother Cesar, working on his tan and enriching his mind.|
|Jakatar docked at Horta, Azores.|
|Karl, the fourth crew member. A brilliant guy with a huge appetite.|
|Night is falling, just me and the stars (and those damned ships).|