DAY 12: Shark Gazers and Alien Watch
“It ain’t no J Crew ad out there, honey.” - Elizabeth
At any given moment, a sailor can make any number of mistakes, ranging from the dangerous (grabbing a running halyard), to the humorous (Scott inflating his PFD while sliding into the nav station). Today, we discovered we’d committed mistake perfection: We’d filled Hokahey’s water tanks too high.
You see, racing boats must be light, and their tanks empty as possible. The way to remedy our error was….showers all around!! In racing, this is unheard of. The closest you usually get to a shower is standing on the transom while someone pours a bucket of seawater over your head. Ours were cold, two-gallon showers, but they might as well have been a spa referral from Beyonce. We fancy.
Shower factor’s one aspect of #racelife non-sailors aren’t aware of. Here’s another, expressed in the form of the most FAQ any sailor will recognize: “Do you sail through the night?”
We couldn’t stop if we wanted to! Sailors use a “watch system” for long passages. Our crew’s organized into two watch teams: “Alien Watch” and “Shark Gazers”. The teams alternate 4 hours on watch and 4 hours off during day, and 3 hours on and off at night. On watch, we sail the boat. Off watch, we sleep, either curled up in the sail bags lining the rail, or in the berths down below, but when you hear “all hands on deck!” you throw on your foulies and go. We all have a love/hate relationship with the “dog watch” hours, between 0100 0400. Staying alert can be agony. On the other hand, what sight could match shooting stars dashing repeatedly across a star-jammed, smoky white sky 1000 miles offshore?
During last night’s dog watch, star show was blanketed by a thick, black cloud mass. On the horizon, we spotted something we’d thought was no more than a tall tale: the infamous night rainbow. Its thick, curved body glowed neon yellow-green, popping eerily against the pitch-black sky. The Shark Gazers stared, mesmerized by this rainbow’s peculiar beauty. Only a fool could believe rainbows foretell misfortune! However, the wind soon began gusting 27 knots, ushering in a night of squalls and wet, frantic sail changes. Let’s just say we’re not yearning to see one again…
Our non-profit believes that by participating in a watch system, kids develop responsibility, discipline, and confidence, while experiencing nature’s wonders. Visit jhsailing.org to find out more! DAY 14
DAY 14: Transpacific Mahalo
“Sailing is gnarly, brah!” - Connor and Jeff
SMACK! The flying fish slapped Elizabeth on the cheek, and was now flopping about the cockpit. Elizabeth rushed over to toss him back into the ocean before washing off the scales dotting her cheek.
Two hours later, another flying fish flew out of the water and into the back of Connor’s head. His sun hat never smelled the same again.
When you first see a flying fish, it appears to be a bird, soaring two feet above the water at intervals of 30 seconds before dipping back into the sea. Fleets of flying fish pass by so often, we could now identify their flocking with eyes half closed on dog watch.
More wildlife. Hokahey glided past a floating 15 foot giant squid, the likes of which we weren’t sure existed outside the Discovery Channel. Its bulbous yellow eye stared menacingly at Scott and Sarge.
Bioluminescence. Phosphorescent plankton swarm the waters at night, illuminating Hokahey’s hull in bright sparkling flashes. When phosphorescent dolphins play in our wake, they shoot through the waves like neon torpedoes.
JH Sailing Team’s navigation gamble did not pay off this time, but our lives have been enriched by this Transpac adventure. You see, the things sailors experience offshore, you cannot see or do anywhere else. As a non-profit, our goal is to spread the opportunity to sail and learn. Please visit http://jhsailling.org to support our unique cause. Aloha!