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May 22, 1999

Hawaii to Tarawa Voyage, Update #20

Day 19. Saturday, 22 May 1999 0244 GMT
Wind ENE-NE 3-4. Heading 180-195M.
Latitude: 14deg 44.349N
Longitude: 165deg 17.404W

Just about noon today the E.N.Easterly dropped significantly from the force 4-5 of the last two days to more around a 2-3. Fearing that a hot, airless phase was on the way (contrary to the forecast however), I started thinking of ways to keep cool without going in the water when a N.Easterly blew up about an hour ago and is continuing to do so as I write this piece. The wind from astern - even for a short while - does wonders to the psyche. Instead of the usual thoughts of grim determination and 'fighting' the ocean as the waves slam in from the east, my mind, body and soul is temporarily free to follow the path of least resistance downwind, with a cool breeze down the hatch to boot. When it's good out on the ocean, it's really good. When it's bad, it's really bad. Very little in between thank goodness.

For the last couple of mornings while eating my porridge oats standing in the cockpit, I've been spectator to another form of breakfasting that takes a little more effort than mine and does not guarantee all the participants getting fed. The players are a 30lb Dorado fish (one that's been following the boat for a while now), a sea-bird (looking a bit like a Cormorant with bright markings in the middle of each wing; a bird book along with clothes pegs were the two casualties not to make it on board this time) and a flying fish. The Dorado and the sea bird take on the roles of pursuers. The flying fish plays breakfast. Watching the two predators - one in its domain of the air, and one in its domain of the water - work together as a team to run the flying fish down makes for a quite a thrilling performance each morning. When the flying fish is in the water, the Dorado is hot on its tail. When it tries to escape by means of air-travel, the sea bird is there to give it heat. There is no way for it to escape, and inevitably one or other of the pursuers overtakes it eventually. This morning it was the sea bird that managed to whisk it from mid air with a dazzling swipe of one of its claws and carry it upwind over the boat before swallowing it whole and living right in front of my eyes! Does wonders to my appetite each morning needless to say.

Jason Lewis,
The Moksha motor

Posted on May 22, 1999 1:42 AM