Sailing emotions 28.00S 176.34E

Salsa af Stavsnas
Ellinor Ristoff Staffan Ehde
Fri 15 Nov 2013 01:28
What is it with sailing? What is it that hooks you? Other than the grandeur of having the wind moving you around...
One thing that I can say is that sailing on an ocean is an ocean of emotion. I will get back to the sailing part, but let's start with the living part.
Here we are in a very confined space, in the middle of nowhere.No other boats that are visible, no land, just an occasional visitor, like yesterday evening a group of dolphins that came and checked us out (I did not see them since I was sleeping).
This morning dawn broke with the same steel grey you can experience on the North Sea, the water felt very agressive with tall steep waves.
The temperaure is getting so cold now we are wearing same clothings as when we sail in Sweden in spring.
Salsa is like a mad horse, the wind forcing her at speeds around 8-9 knots into the waves! It crashes and there is more water on deck than we have ever seen before.As it is our fifth day and worth a celebration, I have prepared with a small gift for everybody. In Tonga they make small jewellery with bones, mostly a traditional fishing hook in different shapes. I had a small speech in the cockpit where we celebrated a moment thinking about that we have crossed the 180 degrees line, meaning we have made more than half the world (we started at 17E remember?).
We have sailed well over 12000nM, and so on. Everybody seemed happy to get a little memory. To be honest we are the worse on buying souvenirs, we actually do not buy anything when we move along, just what we need in life... (yes I had a paddle made in Marquesas).
Anyway I went to bed and asked Ellinor to start the generator. To make sure it works properly we gave up beating the wind, we pointed Salsa more downwind wich made us go towards Australia. The generator was started and we could charge. (Why we have to do that when the wind is blowing like mad? Well we have all the solar and wind charging going to 24 V and we have a small 12 V system as well. All the big spenders on power are on 24 V but there is a lot of charging from the 12V system as well, Ipads, Ipods, ebooks you name it...(who said KISS?).
When we run out of power it is mostly in the 12V system when we are sailing.)
By noon I was awakened to a feast! The sea had calmed down to a very soft rolling hill, the sun was out and there was a lot of good food. And to celebrate the kids had made a Tiger Cake!!!  DADA!
The generator was switched off but we decided to eat our meal in peace. And it was very peaceful just to sit on the ocean, going slowly downwind, and enjoying the pace. When lunch was over we started to sheet in the sails and pointed towards NZ, and what a difference! Salsa got her 17 tons going, plowing, beating, smashing, crashing but much softer now since the seastate is much better.
So what is it with the ocean and sailing? First of all the ocean is never boring, it can be demanding, frightening, soft, gentle, flat, but it will always show a new face. And it can change quickly, a squall moves in and makes it all hell, and then suddenly it is gone, you can see it rolling away from you. Sailing is the same thing, it is like love, emotions, you have flow, good speed, going the right direction. Or it is hopeless, the wind is making a fool of you, and you make a fool of yourselfe. The sails respond immidiately to what you do. Especially on the ocean, it is so grim, so honest.
There is no sweet talk, if you make it right, the speed will pick up, the sails are stretched like wings on a big bird.If you make it wrong, the speed will drop, the sails flogg, the boat comes to a stand still and the waves get a grab on you, throwing the boat and yourselfe around. And you hate the feeling of failure. Just like emotions a small vibration of the sail, telling you there is something that should be done to come to tranquillity, it will anoy you till you do something about it.
The biggest difference between a daysail in the archipellago and the ocean trip is that you cannot escape. You cannot decide we call it the evening or a nice table at a restaurand and pick it up tomorrow. It is a demanding story that forces you to work day and night. Right now for instance, we have a weatherwindow and we have a forecast showing it will close on wensday. A gale will move in and we simply do not want to be in it. So we have to trim and make sure we move with most possible speed, day and night. Night and day. And of course the feeling that you have when you steer into the protected water in a harbor or a bay is unpayable. Accomplishment. The anchor goes down, the chain makes a noise saying that it is over for now.
You look at the rig, the rolled in sails and Ellinor starts immidiately to roll up all the ropes, I start to cover up all the instruments and if possible you take a nap. A sweet sleep that does not involve having one ear always listening for alarms, strange sounds etc.
Then you start to get impatient. Things that broke on the way have to be fixed, food supply added wth fresh vegetables and fruit. MMMMMM, the smell of fresh fruit. The smell of a market with all kinds of new things we have not seen before. And then you learn to love it and sail on and dream about having it again, another time. Pamplemousse....mmmmmmmm
The day you set sail again you cannot wait to get out and feel the freedom of the ocean, a demanding freedom, a freedom that shows how grim freedom is. Because with freedom comes your own responsibility, your own descitions to be made, your own safety, you are in short, on your own...
We have not seen a vessel of any kind in 5 days now. None. It is a big blue planet, called EARTH, by some reason. Maybe the same reason Greenland is called Greenland and the Pacific is called the Pacific. There is a lot of humor in names.
Oceania, I like that name. Like a country with blue water. Oceania, taste the word.It is a continent that is like another planet to most of us, until we get there. Some of the countries we have visited in the Pacific have an ocean area big as Europe, but if you took all the islands and put them together you would have a country big as Stockholms 17 islands.At the most.
Vast, huge, enormous, almost endless. The last wilderness on earth. Oceania.