As soon as the excitement of spotting the California Grays dissipates, Ed and John are dispatched to the foredeck, opting to click onto the jacklines so they can safely peer into the thick fog. Eleanor scribbles in a notebook as she asks me to confirm my wobbling course.
“Three five zero.” In an attempt to make it so for more than a few seconds, I aggressively push the wheel to port as we hit the trough.
“What’s the wind direction?” she asks without looking up from her writing.
I look at the wavelets and answer, “West north west.”
And as if she does not need to see, she asks, “What’s the wind wave height?”
“Less than a foot, but we have some pretty big rollers.” Read more
A few days before Christmas Ed and I set out to do one of my least favorite things, shop. We ended up buying a bottle of fish oil pills, a digital camera for my mother and decided we would give money to a charity instead of buying junky stuff that no one on our lists wants or needs. I gleefully declared my shopping done. Whew!
Leaving the busy parking lot, Ed and I pulled behind a car with a special breast cancer license plate,
the kind that cost 25 bucks extra each year, the additional proceeds going to the plates stated cause. This plate has a big pink ribbon on the left of the tall, black, block letters, and I know from considering purchasing one, that along the bottom it said, “Early Detection Saves Lives.” Buying a breast cancer plate is above and beyond the more common, less costly magnetic pink ribbon commitment to support breast cancer research. I assumed therefore, the driver had a compelling reason to extravagantly identify themselves as a supporter of early breast cancer detection. Impressed, I tried to get a better look at the person behind the wheel. I could not see much, just a dark silhouette. I glanced back at the plate looking for any clues to who this was, and wondered if we were connected by survivor-hood. The car was registered in June. On top of their black plate cover, in bold caps, stamped in hot pink, framed by two pink ribbons was “Save the tatas!”.
“What THE … ?” I huffed, “Save the tatas? Well! How about cutting the dammed things off to save your life?” I exclaimed in overblown indignation. Read more
I refill my cup with stout fine coffee, the kind I personally find too expensive to drink. It is an offering from the Vallero brothers, San Francisco coffee importers who are aboard the ship and must maintain their caffeine standards. The steam roils above the mug as I emerge from the companionway. The plume does not whip away, but slowly swirls, confirming there is still no wind. We should round Point Conception at the end of our forenoon watch. There, we are told by Eleanor with a small degree of glee, “the conditions will change.” NOAA, in a droning electronic voice, corroborates her forecast. “Forty-five knots … at twelve feet … building…midnight…” For the moment though, there is not a breath of wind. The sea rises before us in swelling heaps. Visibility is poor. Beyond the bow the world is gray, featureless and void. Read more