Zen and the Art of the Spinnaker

The first week of the passage we stood rotating port and starboard 4 hour watches. The way it worked was Beau would come on watch at noon, I would come on at 2pm, Ryder would come on at 4pm and Willy would come on at 6pm. We would stand four hours of watch and then be off for four hours until your next watch.

This gave us two people on deck at a time, four hours of watch and four hours off. It was exhausting. You never get more than a couple of hours of sleep, maybe two. We switched to one person on deck and one on standby so the last half of your watch you can sleep but might be called on if needed. We try to respect others downtime as much as possible.

With this rotation we all stand solo night watches, under sail. It’s magical. Seriously. There is something so perfect about sailing at night in the middle of the ocean, so far from anything and everything. I’ve never felt more connected to the sea.

These night watches give all the time to think. I brought an iPod so I’ll listen to music which gives a bit of a “soundtrack to an epic movie” vibe for my watches. But, also lots of time to ponder.

The seas have been a bit confused lately and we will get bigger than the average ocean driven swells off the port or starboard quarter based on our tack. This tends to make the boat a bit squirrelly for a moment.

This was happening the other night and I kept thinking; “Man…these swells are terrible!”. But the more I thought about it the more I came to the conclusion that there are no bad swells. The swells just…are. They exist. They are not bad or good. The wind moves along the water, far far away from where we are. The air particles create friction and drive the water particles. They energy builds up over time and soon you have a swell.

But the swell is neither good or bad. It doesn’t care who or what you are. In reality, it’s how we react to these swells that matter. How we trim the boat, configure the sail plan, react with the tiller. Those create a more peaceful, powerful boat or one that is unbalanced and noisy with a terrible motion.

The swells continue on. They don’t change, for good or bad based on what we do. They just…are.

Things happen in life. Events occur. People say and do things to, for, against us. Those moments just…are. Swells come and go, but it’s how we trim the sails and react that creates a balanced boat. I’m feeling very…zen…out here lately.

We’ve had the 1.5 ounce spinnaker up for most of the day, 10-15 knots of wind out of the NNE, small 4-6 foot swells out of the North. We are making about 6-7 knots, nearly due south. We are trying to get away from an area of high pressure coming in from the north. The weather is beautiful, morale is high, rum is running freely and we are on top of the world.

From the crew of Stay Gold, here’s to your Monday being just as spectacular.

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