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Channeling my inner Lin Pardey

Underway to New Zealand. Day 12. 65 miles to go.

We were becalmed last night, again. 90 miles from the coast. A 1.5 knot northerly current taking us farther away from our coveted landfall. All we could do was put up our double-reefed mainsail to help reduce the rolling as we bobbed about in the swell and simply wait.

I now know without a doubt that being becalmed without a working engine is far worse than big winds. When it’s windy you can reef the sails, turn the boat downwind, hove to. You participate in your fate. When the wind is gone there’s only the feeling of being totally helpless, at the mercy of the fluky atmosphere that completely overwhelms you. You recall your daughters asking if tomorrow they will get to run on land and having to answer, again, one more day maybe. You want to scream, to throw things into the glassy ocean and maybe you do. But it doesn’t really help. It doesn’t even give you a sense of relief, just makes you even more furious.

You tell yourself that you just need to give into it. The wind will come. No one has been becalmed off the coast of New Zealand for long. You think how ridiculous it is to be becalmed off the coast of New Zealand. You think about all the sailors out there, now and mostly in the past, who sailed without engines. If they can do it, so can we. All it really requires is patience. Which is not easy when you are on the brink of insanity.

You sit in the cockpit watching the moonset, trying not to get excited by the tiny puffs of wind that ruffle your hair. From the southeast, the direction they are supposed to be building from. An hour passes and the puffs turn more steady so you roll out the genoa to see what happens. Your body senses the slight increase in movement as the sails detect the wind and begin to pull the boat lazily through the sea. The GPS confirms the forward motion, even though it’s miniscule. The miles-to-go begins to count backwards again, even if it’s just a tenth of a mile.

Maybe that feeling, right there is why all those people go without engines. You try not to get your hopes up, just yet. But once you are certain that your boat is moving again after being still for hours and hours your spirit feels like it is soaring. You have butterflies, giddiness overtakes you. Relief floods your entire being. Suddenly, you feel like you are almost there.



  1. Marie Nicole says:

    So eerie. Quite well said though. Well said indeed!

  2. Congrats on a successful “old school” passage!