OPEN OCEAN

V & VI

V

Tearing Sails.

When I slip back into consciousness I hear Tony say we have to bring the main sail down and stich it up. A group of people gets ready and I am preparing as well but the sea sickness soon tells me it won’t be a good idea to go on deck now to change a ripped sail. I fall back in the bed full of relief and watch the others bring a torn sail under deck.

Someone tells me to get my camera. I gather all my energy for a few minutes, stand up and run to grab it. As fast as I can I lie down again.

I take photos. Focusing on something helps.

I find white patches on my fingers. They itch a little and I have no explanation where they could be from. Paul says they are from working the ropes, my hands are just not used to it. Surprised I accept his explanation but keep on staring on them from time to time. Luckily a few minutes later axel gets them as well and freaks out like me. I forget them for now.

Luna, seasick herself and on antibiotics for the past week starts stitching the sail together with Tony. By this time the weather has cleared up and Kat is steering the boat happily outside while all hell breaks loose over our torn sail. The sun shines and the waves are still big, rocking the boat in a never ending motion from left to right and right to left.

As Tony sits on the kitchen bench and stitches a patch on the sail Chante and Sanne work on a Lea cloth, a piece of sail attached to a rope on the side of the bed that keeps bodies from falling out in rough weather. We have one for most beds, just not for the big bed that sleeps 3 yet. Recently we had a lot of bodies fall out of this bed at night. But also this Lea cloth shall break during the coming night. With the last bit of charge in the drill battery the two drill holes in the wall.

The night before, while changing the sail, I had slipped on deck. Now a nice wound stares at me from my right foot. Normally I don’t worry about wounds like this healing off on their own but a few stories on staff in the tropics have made me a little passively paranoid. With luna we desinfect it.

I fade back into a nauseous sleep.

Black.

VI

Thunderstorm.

When I open my eyes again the others have put up our third main sail. We had only had it up shortly before and it now towers as a temporary solution over us. Chante has taken over the steering wheel and as she smiles at us and asks me to take a picture of her a massive grey wall that has built up behind her comes closer. It literally sucks everything in its way in. I suspect the worst. Before it even arrives it starts raining, soft at first, more heavily soon after. Chante looks up. This is when the first lighting comes down.

Paul had prepared for this and put a metal chain in the water. Now we all watch Chante in a thunderstorm, between laughing and panic on her face. She looks up over us, at the sail and yells that it is tearing apart again. Tony calms her down, assuring her its over soon and gets ready to go out himself.

We all look out in disbelief, between amusement and worry, not knowing what to make of what’s happening.

After 20 minutes the rain slowly calms down as the sun sets and the darkness falls over Noalani. Paul and Tony, the more experienced sailors in the crew are now in the cockpit. Paul has started the motor and we are slowly motoring. I do not understand if we are going away from the clouds or towards them. It’s the wrong time to ask. The sail has completely come down, torn apart. 

Now the hallyard, the line that raises the main sail, is still stuck at the top of the mast. This means one thing. Someone will have to climb the mast. At night. In storm. Tony says he will do it. He asks me to go under deck and as soon as I do I get horribly seasick again. Nevertheless I start dinner with Chante who has pretty much dried from her thunderstorm adventure.

Outside Paul, Axel and Tony decide to raise one of our jibs, the smaller sail that usually towers in front of the mast, in the back, over the cockpit. All of this I only hear happening. Sometimes I stick my head out and see the three, with read head torches on, discuss what to do next.

Tony has never tried raising the jib in the back, but we might as well give it a try. A few minutes later, yelling again. It didn’t work. The good news is that we accidentally pulled down the hallyard that was stuck up the mast. I guess you have to be lucky sometimes.

As Axel, Chante and occasionally me continue our miso adventure, falling back and forth, throwing whatever we can find into the pot, the others take our second, sewn sail and put it up again. 30 seconds later it tears again at the same spot. We take it down. Again. Inside Sanne sits down with it and for the next few hours sews it back together, hopefully better this time. Without a sail up the boat has no stabilisation and rocks heavily back and forth.

Everyone slowly comes inside to have dinner. We eat the fantastic miso soup we threw together. The atmosphere is extraordinary. Most of us are experiencing things and feelings we have never felt before and did not expect on the first day. Sometimes, while everything is happening, we look at each other with this “what the fuck is happening?” look, well knowing that we won’t forget this too fast.

After the soup someone looks outside and yells for us to come.

Outside, under the almost full moon a silver half circle towers across the ocean.

Lightly glowing in front of dark grey clouds, almost dream like. A moonbow. Something I have never seen before. We all look at it. We know everything is going to be well. The rainbow will guide the way.

Shortly after I fall into a complete delirium. I can’t even eat more than a bowl. My body just collapses. Exhausted and seasick as hell.

I wake up every couple of hours, open my eyes and start listening. I can hear the guys still working outside every time. Raising sails, reefing them, sailing us through the rough night. Shortly before sunrise they come under deck and fall into the beds.

The next day after we wake up in a complete mess. I hear Tony say it was one of his longest nights on sea.

For the moment we continue to sail with a torn main.

This is where the written story ends. We continued with our first main sail which was not torn apart yet.

Our steering broke again and again.

After 15 days Noalani arrived safely in Suva harbour.

All of us set foot on land and talked to other people than for the first time in two weeks.

The End. For now.

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