Friday, January 14, 2005

Nicole's 5th Entry

Seasickness is indiscriminant. Some people have it and some do not, but admirals and common sailors are as likely to get it as not. Yesterday, we motored toward Key West in a force 5-6 gale and several (myself included) were quite ill. The nausea is incapacitating and we were all grateful when those who were not ill took over our stations on watch. The most important thing to remember about being sick on a boat is to go aft and to the leeward side, else you can imagine the results. The next most important thing is that it passes after a few hours, and in all probability, you will live that long, though you may not enjoy it much.

We were motoring because this ship cannot sail into the wind. The best racing boats can sail about 30 degrees off the wind. So, if the wind is coming from due East, or 90 degrees, those boats can steer a course anywhere EXCEPT between 60 degrees and 120 degrees. That said, this boat can only sail downwind, or 90 degrees off the wind. This means, in practice, that there is 180 degrees of the 360 available into which we cannot steer. So, when the wind comes from the direction into which we hope to go, we are forced to travel under power.

It’s been days since I last wrote. I think I am avoiding thoughts of going home. It is striking how quickly my real life receded into some kind of far away dream that I remember but cannot touch. Periodically thoughts of my down comforter or a full bathtub cross my mind, but they are fleeting, and I am quickly distracted by the tasks at hand. I mean no hurt to those I love and miss, but at this moment there is very little of me that wishes to return home. In some ways this is not surprising. Here there is no daily delivery of bills in the mail, no ability to correspond, no academic arguments to wrestle into words. I understand that in its way this is a form of escapism, but it seems a worthy one, at least for a time. In part, I came on this journey to lighten an invisible burden. My hope was to discover a new perspective and to encounter part of myself previously unknown. In this I succeeded. In so doing I have left some part of myself here, some piece of me is free, untethered, weightless. When I board the plane for home four days from now it will not be as the same person who arrived ten days ago. I have given of myself on this journey, and somewhere inside myself I know that part of me is never coming back.
posted by Nicole