‘I wonder if Ella can tell who’s at the helm by watching the instruments below? Has she noticed how awesome I am at keeping a course, amongst these confused waves and erratic wind patterns? I am really in a groove here, anticipating the next…’
“Come down, Royce.” - my thoughts interrupted by Ella’s abrupt command from the companionway.
“Try to stay at 290.” - she suggested politely.
“But I was sailing at 290!” I retorted, skipping several of Alejandro’s leadership tenants and jumping right to denial and a new step, frustration. All this, while bouncing back and forth 90 degrees, losing absolute control of the boat.
“Try to keep 120 off the wind, Royce” Ella calmly continued.
“I can’t hear you, Ella! What?!” My anger growing.
“Try to keep 120 off the wind” she instructed, with proper Queen’s English, frustrating me all the more.
‘I was in a zone, goddamit’ - I thought to myself. ‘I was doing awesome’ I’m awesome. Am I awesome?’
“Vicky! Wasn’t I on the right course? The sails weren’t luffing, before were they?!” I asked my watch mate, clearly caught in the crosshairs of my heated argument with a perfectly calm 18 year old, several times more experienced than myself.
Vicky, who grew up in a country ill-equipped to deal with conflict, was at a loss. What side do I choose, she thought? My original alliance to England or the more powerful neighbor to my south. Looking to the sky for guidance from the Maple Leaf constellation, she remained perplexed and quiet.
And so, with 10 minutes to go in a six-hour watch, I followed my instructions until I was relieved at the helm by a much calmer Bruce. Quietly, I stormed off into my cabin like a teenager stranded at home on a Friday by his misguided parents who selfishly won’t let him go to Matt’s house because his parents aren’t home. So unfair.
And now, as the sun rises over our stern, the calming breeze reminds us that a new day brings with it a new beginning. I am shoveling the pancakes that my adversary from the night prior lovingly prepared into my mouth.
“Ella, I’m sorry for being a dick last night. You didn’t deserve that” I said calmly, in between bites as I turned to look at her (‘but I was crushing it, wasn’t I’ my subconscious asked her)
“It’s ok” she replied (‘And you were such a little bitch’ she mentally responded)
See Vicky, there’s no need to bring conflict. Why don’t you understand this?
You might be wondering, at least I am, what the hell consumes the crew for an entire day.
This trip reminds me of our human desire to manufacture entertainment. Yesterday, around 2 for example, well before my much-deserved chastisement from the second mate, Ella helped teach me how to use a sextant. And so we’re clear, despite the phonetically accurate spelling, this does not refer to a house of ill-repute, located midway across a Moroccan desert.
She helped me use this medieval sex tool to find our location on earth by taking a sighting of the sun’s location in the sky relative to the horizon.
“So, Ella, I just look through this telescope and the sun reflects off the mirror into my eye?” I asked with curiosity.
“That’s correct. And then line it up with the horizon”
“But, uh, won’t I go blind?” I wanted to clarify.
You idiot, she must have been thinking.
And so, I took a sighting, and was hesitant to let Chris know that we had somehow ended up in the Indian Ocean. So much for navigating. Better I retire to my comfy spot on the settee below decks, where I can’t hurt my eyes or scare the crew.
While I’m writing this, in my said “safety-zone," Mia pleasantly suggests that our watch, recently relieved from duty, is responsible for dishes. Springing to action, having learned my lesson during SpinnakerGate, I attacked the dirty coffee mugs with vigor. And from my station in the galley, I heard the following interaction:
“Is Jeff awake yet” Mia asked his watch mates.
“He’s reading in his bunk” Bruce shared with patient exasperation, clearly not surprised by his mate’s tardiness. I get you, Bruce, my daughter Nora is the same way.
“Go put on your socks, pick up your room, and come back downstairs, Nora.” I might advise her on a Saturday morning. Four hours later it dawns on me, as I notice her untied shoes, that she never came downstairs. Checking on her, I find a barefoot daughter coloring in her room, amongst the chaos of toys and stuffed animals strewn about. Oh, Nora, you’re going to make a great barista one day.
“Jeff, you’re on watch.” Mia instructed
15 minutes later, and you can’t make this shit up, Jeff comes out of his room whistling Dixie.
This is where I should give a selfish plug to 59 North for paid passages across large bodies of water, with fucking children. Bless your heart, Mia. You are a saint.
On the other end of the absent mindedness spectrum, we have Nelson. It’s not his fault for being forgotten in my journal this many days into the voyage. We have a watch system designed to separate crew, a precaution Chris enacted to avoid any mutinous plotting. Only during watch shifts, like passing period in middle school, do you get to see your friends who were relegated to a different classroom. It’s during these changeovers, which I look forward to if for nothing other than to get reprieve from my Costa Rican hanger on, where I see the doctor.
Nelson has a quirky way, with little time to waste, of sneaking in an observation that lands in a hilarious and insightful way.
“Mia, it would seem on brand, nautically speaking, to have a gelato machine in the galley, don’t you think” he suggests with a combination of ironic accuracy. If Paul Rudd and Jimmy Fallon had an intellectual love child who pursued a career in medicine, you would have Nelson. During longer passing hours, we dive deeper into the interesting past of this liberal Texan.
“There was that time when my dad and I reluctantly strip-searched a chain gang of Mexican road workers all sharing a commonality in neon underwear,” he absently contemplated, as we all sat wide-eyed, like “dude, you can’t just skim over what is clearly a mind-blowing story!”
Or, he might regale us, in between describing black tar heroin at a molecular level, with stories of negotiating hair-pin turns on the Yucatán peninsula in a hard top Cadillac, with a B-List Hollywood actor riding shotgun, whom he met at a roadhouse in Puerto Vallerta the night prior. Just dote on your daughters, Royce, and everything will be ok, he advised me one morning with profound simplicity. This guy gets me.
With rapt attention, I’m confused by my desire to listen. Does he also think we’re now dating, I contemplate in a daze, as the sun sets behind him, silhouetting his mane of brown hair.
Pull yourself together, Royce, I remind myself, snapping out of my awkward love spell. You’re married. To a woman. You need off this boat.
And the sun sets on another day at sea.
We're the Zimmerman Family!
Home Base | Denver, CO
A family of six that
LOVES to sail !
Follow our crew (Royce, Tara, Avery, Charley, Nora & Ruby)
as we blog our sailing adventures
Set Sail 4.22.23 | Las Palmas - Across the Atlantic - Island of Antigua
Set Sail 9.22.21 | Sweden - Germany -
Set Sail 7.18.19 | Newport, RI -
Martha's Vineyard, MA -
Nantucket, MA -
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