Guest blog - it's never too late!
01 May 2010 | Fajardo, Puerto Rico
A Fish Tail seen through the monacle of Col. Klink
By, Matt Maples - crew from Bermuda to St. John at the end of November, 2009
There are some who believe that with night, comes silence. To them, I charge that they are not listening.
Sitting on the deck of 44' Safari Tu, I hear anything but silence this night. Waves break upon rocks, their rhythmic roar marking the heartbeat of the world, followed with water's retreat; the exhalation. Tropical insects chirp static, a cacophonic chorus only broken by the calls of startled birds.
I am reminded of what a native to this island, St. John, USVI, told us an afternoon prior at his ice cream stand: "God, he give you two ears, and one mouth", "you must listen."
Sage advice, no doubt.
One day earlier marked being at sea for a week; and our greatest reward for our voyage; the clear, blue, 86 degree-warm temperature of the water of Hawksnest Bay, St. John. Running in white sand under palms and diving into perfect water, the buoyancy of a huge coconut becoming an underwater chair - a perfect reward. Worth the seasickness and custom's forms.
Now don't get me wrong, the sea voyage wasn't bad. But I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't been seasick for more than half of it. Which is crazy! Me? Seasick? After working on tall ships for over two years I thought I was over that. Apparently not! Ugh!
All in all, it was a relatively quiet voyage - minus the engine. No dolphins or whales; which was a great surprise to me. The great expanse of wet desert, that is the ocean, was broken by intermittent stormy weather, which we always seemed to dodge, always lashing at our ankles. Kind of exciting when you feel like you are really getting away with something.
Of great excitement however, was the young Matthew Spring's timely fish catches. The greatest among them a Mahi Mahi caught on Thanksgiving afternoon - mere hours after I told Matthew that he must catch a Mahi Mahi, because I wanted chicken for Thanksgiving. Marinated in teriyaki, the Mahi Mahi made for a one-of-a-kind Thanksgiving meal, enjoyed under a setting sun, with the company of our crew of six and the passing of a racing sailing boat - the first and last one we would see on the open ocean. We also caught a Wahoo. Unfortunately though, it escaped due to our ignorance - we identified it instead as a Barracuda, and thus threw away a perfectly good meal...
It is good that Matthew caught those fish, he puts far more effort into fishing then anything else. He says that one day he will have a catamaran big and fast enough to make catching tuna a breeze. I believe him.
My time with the Springs' and our friend Roth was memorable, especially my nonsense arguments with Matthew about everything and nothing. I remember the irony of being on watch, the entire ocean in view, and hearing the theme song to Hogan's Heroes playing in the cabin - funny how much the kids love the show. I remember watching when I was about Anna Spring's age (13) and laughing at Col. Klink, (the most lovable villain ever!) who was always sporting his monacle and bald head!
It took us longer to leave Bermuda then expected. I however, did not mind the delay. St. George's was a beautiful town, and it gave me time to visit Bermudan friends who had sailed with me on the Europa last summer. We got some good repairs in, including an angry afternoon beating out the screws for two seized blocks, and a heavy-duty cleaning of the bilge pump! Our friend Rick tried to leave one day, but going head into wind into a small channel, found that his engine could not defeat the forces arrayed against him. He left, with no fanfare the next day, early. We thought we would see him on the ocean, but it didn't happen.
Our ocean voyage, minus the seasickness for me and Roth, was pretty relaxing. With four of us to man the helm and watch, there was plenty of time for sleeping, reading, tanning and munching on the large amount of nibble-food. In little over a week we made about 900 miles, though unfortunately most of that time we had to run the motor for lack of wind. I trust that the Springs' upcoming voyages will have more wind for their sails, as everyone agreed that the silence of the engine is one of its best qualities.
The greatest thing about sailing, I think, is that it is a voyage to get somewhere. When you get in a plane and land somewhere in a handful of hours, you skip the best part of the trip; the voyage. The hours looking at the trackless expanse, day after day, and the anticipation of your destination makes you hunger to drop anchor. But when you do, and after your stomach is full from a feast and there is still white sand stuck between your toes, when you are laying idly in safety, you then think about the miles you covered to get there and the trials that happened and the silly games that were invented to stave off boredom. Then you realize that was the best part. Anyone can eat a lot and go to the beach, but who gets to pass the time fishing for a meal, enjoying the outdoors, dodging storms and imitating Col. Klink while hanging dead fish tails from the bow? Now those are the tales that get told!
The kids may complain sometimes, but you know they are going to look back on these adventures as one of the coolest things they ever did with their family. I remember doing a lot of camping at their age with my parents and the little adventures and mishaps that happen.
I wonder now how many fish tails the young master Spring puts on the bow of Safari Tu. His future catamaran, no doubt, will be bedecked with them.
I hope to sail again with the Springs' and Roth for they were among the kindest hosts I have ever encountered. I just insist that on another occasion they get me to right after I have been on a ship for some months, so that I will be invulnerable to seasickness!
Best wishes to the sailors on board Safari Tu. Matthew Spring, when I see you again I am going to ask you how to tie your round turn and two half hitch knot - Do not disappoint!
Fair Winds - Matt
From Jen: A huge thanks to Matt for taking the time to write about his adventure with us, and for taking to time away from his family over Thanksgiving to do that major crossing with us!! We loved having him aboard, and the kids still ask after him all the time. We are grateful!