Sailing the Pacific Ocean from Guam to Japan

Sailing the Pacific Ocean from Guam to Japan
Angry Seas.

 

Sailing the Pacific Ocean

From Guam to Japan

Sailing the Pacific Ocean from Guam to Japan

Sailing the Pacific Ocean from Guam to Japan.
April 3 – Seoul, South Korea.
I was up at 7:00am, showered, packed and caught a bus from my hotel to Hyun Jin’s place where she fed me breakfast.  She was alone.  She is never alone but her whole family had other plans for the day.  Amazing luck.  I needed a nap and lay down on her bed.  She joined me.  She kissed me.  Well, one thing led to the next and we got naked.  That girl…that horny girl.  She is so beautiful.  Those boobs and that vagina… Wow.  So, we work each other into a frenzy and I had sex with Hyun Jin without a condom for the first time ever.  But, her sister kept calling and the phone kept on ringing.  Hyun Jin’s sister wanted an ID scanned and sent to her, and I kept on having sex with Hyun Jin doggie-style as her sister kept on calling and making demands.  Then we had to hurry and finish.  Sex in the Pastor’s house.  Check…  Awesome!  Hyun Jin told me it is the first time she has ever had sex at home.  She told me she has had sex with five guys in the past five years since I left Korea.  I am glad she is living some.  I am glad that she has created some kind of life within the insane boundaries instilled upon her.

We went out for lunch, and then Hyun Jin took me with her to a sort of Korean tea-study that incorporates Christianity.  Tea etiquette with Jesus and God….  It was an interesting concept.  We left at 4pm to get me to Seoul Station to catch the train to the airport.  We said goodbye and I kissed that awesome girl goodbye for the third time in South Korea.  We were both sad because the past three days have been wonderful to be around each other again.  I would love to show her some of the world for a week.  We separated and I rushed for the train, talking to her on my Korean rent-a-phone for the next hour until I returned it at the airport.  I do not expect to ever see her again but I would be very happy if I did.  That is a very sweet and special girl.

I got on my plane at 8:20pm headed for Guam, a U.S. territory in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  The plane arrived in Guam at 1:40am and I came through American customs.  The lady behind the desk asked me, “You do not have a US address?”  “No.”  “You are staying where?”  “On a boat with a man who is going to haul me to Japan starting April 15th.”  “How do you know this man?”  “I found him and his boat on the internet.”  Curiosity, “You mean you have never met this man and you are going to get on a sailboat with him and sail across the ocean?”  “Yeah, well, I talked to him on Skype a couple of times and he seemed like a fairly stand-up guy.”  “Wow, be careful!  Does your mom know what you are doing?  “Yea, I told her.”  “Have you been on a boat before?”  “Not really.  Cruise ships, but never a small boat.”  “Ha ha.  Good luck!”

STAMP!

I met Rick Morris of Nikiski, Alaska, at the arrivals gate.  I recognized him from pictures on his sailing website.  We shook hands and visited on the way to his rental car in the airport parking and drove to the Yacht Club.  We pulled an air-inflated dinghy from the shore into the water, loaded into it, started the engine, and cruised it for about a half mile across the water of the harbour until we arrived at a Westsail 32 cutter-rig cruiser appropriately named ‘Freestyle.’  Awesome.  Freestyle is 32’ long and has a 48’ mast.  The sleeping/living compartment is down inside of the boat.  It would be hard to find a cooler boat.  Freestyle is a 1975, and Rick has owned it since 2005.  He restored it completely for a couple of years, has been sailing it since 2007, and has been consistently on the move for two consecutive years.  Rick is heading back home to Alaska to re-fund his ‘sailing kitty.’  We sat up until 3:30am bullshitting about life.  This section of life is going to be great.

 

Freestyle.

Freestyle.

April 4
I slept until noon in my boat cabin bed that just holds me in length + width, allowing me an extra 20 centimeters of space above my body.  If I was 20 kg heavier I would not fit.  It is probably similar to sleeping in a casket.  Rick had been working on the boat all morning while I tried to fight off jet-lag in the casket-bed.  I briefly helped him fix/patch Freestyle’s main sail.  We took the dinghy to land and headed to the ‘Beach Bar’ for a couple of beers.  Rick cares about eating about as much as I do so we got lunch on the go; he a gas station hotdog, and me a gas station bun with fat layered chicken.  At 7pm we went to Chamorro, a traditional Guam fiesta with a market, food, music, and traditional dancing styles from all over the Pacific Islands.  Rick and I drank from coconuts, had dinner, and came back to the boat with beer where we drank and talked music until 4am.  We are going to get along fine.

 

Freestyle deck.

On deck, Freestyle.

April 5
I was up at noon but uber le-tired.  We took the dinghy from the sailboat to the shore of the Yacht Club where we patched the dingy’s small air-leak on the beach.

I had my first shower since I was in Korea, so today I washed Hyun Jin off of me.  Shame, as I like to waller in the sex from great girls, but I needed to be clean as I was a complete grease-ball.  Then immediately after the shower, I found a love letter from Hyun Jin in my inbox when I checked my e-mail.  She told me she cried when I left and said that my three days in Korea with her were the “Three Best Days Ever!”  That felt good! Those were three awesome days indeed.  Women sure know how to make a man feel good.

Rick and I bought some steaks, beer, and salad from the supermarket before heading back to the boat to share music and have a feast.  Rick used to have a recording studio in Alaska, so he is great for swapping musical opinions.  We drank and visited until 2am.  At some point a submarine that belongs to Guam’s massive American naval base came cruising past us.

 

Feeding a water buffalo bananas.

Feeding a water buffalo bananas.

April 6
I was self-forcefully up this morning at 9 AM and we headed for land to meet with a couple from New Zealand.  Everyone loaded into Rick’s rental car and we toured the south part of the island.  At one stop, I made friends with ‘Big John,’ a Chamorro man (Guamanian) who had two water-buffalo.  I fed bananas to his water-buffalo.  Bananas!  Big John is a Guam cowboy with a Mohawk, in a traditional Guam village.  Fun.  Our crew toured around for about three hours but I could not enjoy it because I was so damn tired.  I had to have a nap when we got back to the boat because I am a total zombie.

At 6pm, we headed back to land to the Yacht Club for dinner.  It was a big outing, but I was the youngest person there by about 12 years.  The people there sure were curious to meet me and wanted to know my story up to our point of contact.  They wanted to know about my experience on boats.  I told them that I am green.  They wanted to know if I get seasick.  I told them that I do not know, but that I should be alright.  They told me that they have pills that I can take to avoid seasickness.  I told them that I have heard that seasickness only lasts a couple of days and that I should be okay because I have survived three day hangovers before.  They looked at me and slightly rolled their eyes when they took my word for it and said, “Okay….”  When we came back to the boat and I was little drunk.  Rick and I listened to music and consumed more beer.

 

April 7
I got up early this morning and Rick and I headed for land where I found internet and booked a flight from Tokyo to Los Angeles for $570.  Then we took the car to the supermarket where Rick spent $458 on groceries to stock the boat for our journey.  The Yacht Club had a pot-luck dinner where I got talked into making a tie-dye shirt out of my Big Beaver t-shirt.  I am 50/50 on the people the Yacht Club brings in/attracts.

Most of my life I have been told that American beer is weak, watery beer.  I have been told this so many times that it is mental code and I have preached it myself without accurately considering how bad the beer actually tastes.  Well, after three years in Europe, and not really drinking American beer for about six years, I can now confirm with confidence that America makes horrible, shitty, flavourless, beer that is mostly water.  It is fucking terrible.

 

Groceries for the Guam to Japan crossing.

Groceries for the Guam to Japan crossing.

April 8
When I woke up, Rick and I put away the groceries.  He is always up a couple of hours before me because I am a jet-lagged, tired bastard.  After breakfast I went around the outside of the boat with scrub-brush, cleaning all of the barnacles and growth from the waterline, down as far as I could reach on hull.  I was using a rope to keep from drowning while waves crashed into me and made my cleaning extremely difficult.  It was a very tough job to fight through.

We cooked up pasta and headed to the Yacht Club for potluck Easter lunch.  I have not been around women or five days, and I have not thought about them because they have been out of my realm of my current reality.  I have not been horny since I last seen Hyun Jin, which is a small miracle I have just found out that I am capable of containing.  I seemed to have been able to shut that part of my brain down, like a tree in a drought that stops supplying water to its branches in order to survive.  Well, at the lunch today there were five women that got to me who I would have loved to have slept with, and there were ten in total who I would have slept with just to be a gentleman.  Now I have that shit on my mind again my libido has made me a wreck.

Hard Rock Guam.

Hard Rock Guam.

I wanted to stop at the Hard Rock Cafe Guam, so I took Rick there for dinner.  Everyone was curious about me and the Hard Rock Cafe London after I told them where I worked.  The food was alright, and the girls were average looking, per Hard Rock standard.  Hard Rock hires people with personalities.  Of course there are amazing diamonds in the rough, but are most Hard Rock girls average because so few really attractive girls come with a sparkly personality as many have never really had to work at developing one due to life continuously coming crawling on its hands and knees to their beauty?  It is an interesting social question.  My Hard Rock job got us a nice discount on our bill, we headed for another bar to watch a local band and were back to the boat at 11pm to drink more beer.

The Northern Hemisphere’s biggest mark and the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest mark, the Big Dipper and the Southern Cross, are together at opposite ends of the sky at night in Guam.  It is a gorgeous line to observe at night.

 

Guitaring in the evenings.

Guitaring in the evenings.

April 9
I got up at 8am and headed for lands with Rick.  I got on Skype with Hyun Jin and offered to fly her to Japan to meet me there for three or four days.  I want to show her life away from the confines of her squarely-religious parents and the box they have tried to put her in.  I am sort of concerned about the effects that a trip of freedom will have on her, but I selfishly want to show her how much fun life can be.  It would be awesome for her to see beyond what her parent’s control, though I am doubtful it will happen.  She was totally blown away by such an offer.

Rick and I spent the afternoon cruising around with the boat in the bay, trying to calibrate the auto-steer when using engine power.  Calibrated!  We changed a sail, and then I had a two hour nap.  I am so fucking tired all the time.  I could sleep 15 hours a day.  My body is due for some rest.  And, I am still re-mentally cursed from seeing women yesterday as they are  again haunting my thoughts.

 

April 10
We headed to shore in the dinghy.  Rick went to look at some maps with a man who has sailed to Japan, while I e-mailed people.  We headed back to the boat to do some handiwork on Freestyle and went shore-side again to take the car into town where I hit on an older Filipino woman in a lumberyard to make her smile.  That was fun.

I played guitar for an hour once we got back to the boat, looking to seriously improve my lackluster skills.  Also, I am contemplating drying out and avoiding alcohol for the next few weeks of my life.  It would be nice to be toxin free.  Plus, I it would do me good to not drink for a while so that I could dry the taste of European beer from my palate and then once again appreciate the taste of beer from this part of the world.

*Thought of the Day – Would a human being laugh if they had never encountered laughter?  Is it initially mimicked?

 

April 11
I have been getting awesome e-mails from Jennifer in Portland, Oregon.  I will go and see her.  Now that is a pretty girl with personality.  Sharp ones like her are so awesome!…

Revolving Pope Japanese camera stress monument.

Revolving Pope Japanese camera stress monument.

The day was spent running errands with Rick’s friend ‘Michigan Mark’, one of the most boring know-it-all’s to exist in humanity.  Highlights of the day were:
A) a homeless woman sitting outside of the post office who said, “Hey, can you just give me…$10,000?”  I liked that, but did not have $10,000 on hand, nor did I have any small bills for her.
B) Ten minutes later we were standing at the ‘Revolving Pope John Paul II’ statue where a Japanese couple were taking pictures of each other with the statue in the background.  I offered to take a picture of them together, and when the man handed me his camera, I took it and ran for about three paces.  He almost shit his pants in panic.  I just remember the look on his face, and the groan I heard him let out as he thought I was stealing his camera and he came immediately after me.  I stopped, turned back and laughed.  They realized I was teasing and we had a good laugh together.  But, we were all giggling so hard that I could barely take their picture.  Rick told me, “You sure are a piece of work….”

*How do you spell Canada?  C, Aye, N, Aye, D, Aye… – That was from Moron Michigan Mark.  He actually gave me that piece of entertainment today, though it was meant as lame slander.

 

April 12
We headed to shore in the morning.  Michigan’s finest know-it-all with no personality took his scuba gear and went with Rick back to the boat to clean the bottom of its hull.  I stayed onshore to Skype with Carlos.  Awesome.  I told him about a vessel here.  There is a Catamaran boat that is sitting here in the harbour for sale.  It is a bit of a heap of shit, but it has everything on it and would be ready to go immediately.  A Frenchman wants $20,000 for it but someone suspects he will take $12,000.  I have that money.  If Carlos had the same we would buy it and we would sail the world on that piece of shit.  We would sail to the Philippines, meet some girls (backpacker tourists or locals) and say, “Yea, sure we have a boat.  Oh yeah, it is awesome to travel that way.  Yea, if you want, we could take you with us to _______ (insert – Fiji, Solomon Islands, Thailand, Indonesia, etc…).  We will be about seven days at sea.  Yea, we will go and get some food and booze.  It will be seven days of sailing, music, partying, guitars, and fun.”  Then we would get to our new island and trade those girls off on new girls offering them the same awesome party as we would sail to a new island.  We would party with naked girls on our boat all around the world.  It would be the greatest exchange program ever.  If only Carlos had a little bit of money right now…

Rick and I took Freestyle out sailing around the harbour.  Awesome.  Sailing feels special somehow, they way one has to work with nature and the wind for motion.  I am amazed how much a boat heels to the side when the wind is blowing in the sails.  It leans at a 45° angle and sometimes more.  When the wind is coming at you head on but that is the direction you want to head, you have to tack (zigzag) to get there.  I had always wondered how that worked in sailing.  Rick initially seemed to be talking gibberish when I arrived, but in the past week my regular human English vocabulary has mutated into words like, ‘boom gallows, hanks, lazy-jacks, jib, fetch, gale…’

 

April 13
Rick and I headed to land early.  I called Hyun Jin on Skype who has fabled a tale of fiction to her parents to be able to meet me in Japan to learn how to rock and roll while feeling the cool breeze of freedom in life.  So, I bought her I return plane ticket from Seoul to Tokyo from May 1-4 for $348.  She had been talking to her parents about it for a couple of days and the web of lies she weaved was how I had already bought the ticket with my air miles and some extra money for her birthday present, and how I was going to be traveling through Japan with my girlfriend.

Hyun Jin has been forced to become an incredible liar, but she is one of the sweetest girls I have ever met, has a heart of gold, is beautiful, and has my favourite hoo-hoo ever.  Now she will get to experience some freedom from the iron fist of a pastor father.  I suppose that most of the reasons for flying her to meet me are sinister, but I truly want to show her life.  Perhaps it will corrupt her a bit.  Perhaps it will change her and she will not be able to go back to living the same way.  In any case, ignorance is bliss, but people need exposure to the outside world.  She is excited and thinks it will be the greatest thing to happen in her life.  I hope so.

They made a cake for us at the yacht club.

They made a cake for us at the yacht club.

Rick and I went to Immigration Guam to check out of the country.  The customs Officer gave me a new arrival stamp in my passport by accident.  So, basically, I was given an arrival stamp beside the previous arrival stamp I had for a country I had already checked into and arrived in nine days ago.  Immigration seems to be pretty lax with boats.  I cannot imagine it still being that easy in the US in next five years…

While we were in town I gave my lady-bum who asked for $10,000, a $1 bill and thanked her for making me laugh a couple of days ago.  Then before we went to the boat we stopped at the Yacht Club and I had my first shower in five days.  I was probably seven the last time I went five days between showers.  I am trying to condition my body for the trip.  There were some serious smells coming off of me.  Places on my body that I did not know were capable of stinking were smelly.

 

Land, the last I seen of her.

Land, the last I seen of her.

April 14
Rick and I were both up and at it by 8:30am and had Freestyle ready to go by 2pm.  Bon Voyage.  We sailed out of the harbour of Guam.  The swells of the ocean were rougher than I had anticipated.  I had been expecting that sailing would be smooth, soft, gentle, breezes, reading books while catching sun on the deck, and playing guitar.  Nope, it will be none of that!  It is fucking rough.  You have to hang on all the time and wear a harness with a line attached to the boat in case you fall off.  It is an intense exercise of the body, always in motion.  Goodbye land.

It is difficult to walk and to pee because of the motion and then during a nap I had a series of very strange dreams because my thoughts are so shook up by the rocking of the boat.  One vivid dream was about the cast of Star Trek and City Slickers hanging out and playing chess.  Bizarre.  When night-time came I saw the stars without any kind of light-pollution for the first time in a very long time.  The stars shocked me when they arrived much brighter than I remembered them.

Wonkiness found me.  It set in.  Hard…  I spent 7.5 hours, of exponentially increasing sickness from the time we left the harbour, using all the strength I had trying not to be seasick.  I had to mentally focus.  I had that weird feeling, like when you try cocaine or magic mushrooms, and your body is on the edge and does not know what to do…  The rushes that go through your body can be either positive or negative at any given moment.
The negative…
-9:25pm.  Vomit.  A big, loud, dramatic vomit of salmon and apples.
-12:05am.  Vomit.  I am fucking sick.  Running out of vomit.
-1:03am.  Vomit.  Bile.  Some salmon scented saliva.  Sick.
-1:26am.  Vomit.  Bile.  Empty.  My body is retching.  Hurts.
-2:31am.  Vomit.  I tried to drink at half a glass of water to get rid of the vomit taste.  I spent the next 3 minutes over the edge of the boat while my stomach tried to rid itself of the water.  More dry heave retching.  Terrible.  I am so so fucking sick.

 

April 15
Yesterday I spent those 7.5 hours using all of my mental power, trying to be in command to fend off my seasickness.  I could hold it in, but I felt so horrible.  I did not want nature to win.  I am a man in charge of my body.  It is my body!  I was in control, but I felt so awful.  I fought hard.  Finally I let go of the idea of being the master of my own domain, and when I finally psychologically let go I was a vomit machine.  The sea has won.

This has been a good lesson on listening to older people.  Older people have experience.  They know things.  There is no point in being cocky about what your body can and cannot do when you actually have zero experience in the field they want to talk about.  Those older people who offered me seasickness pills and advice would be very nice to have around right now.  Always listen to older people.  I have come to realize that experience trumps cockiness.

Calmer seas.

Calmer seas.

I managed to get up at 8am to take my shift watching for the ships or whatever we might need to watch for on the seas.  The water is 89.9° F.  Unhappily, I began my morning by emptying my stomach of very foul tasting forest-green bile vomit into the swallowing ocean.  Vomiting really wakes you up when you are tired.  No need for coffee or an apple…  It sure hurts though. And there was a lot of forest-green ejecting from my mouth.  Bile tastes so bad, that it makes you vomit more.  I had to try to get in control of it again.  I spent most of the rest of the day on the floor of the hull of the boat.  Horizontal is okay for me.  Vertical is the tricky one.  I had strange dreams in the afternoon about a friend who had an airplane for skydiving that had ice skates instead of wheels.

I slept most of the daylight hours because I am so sick.  I needed to hydrate myself, so I would drink half a cup of water and then try to be lying horizontally before the liquid was able to reach my stomach.  It was a race with gravity.  I peed once during the day, so it was good to know I can still process liquid.  I ate a small amount of salad at 6:20 PM, and then I had to lie down as soon as I could get the food inside of me.  Later, I managed to get mango juice inside of my stomach.

Fluorescent algae, disturbed in the seas at night.

Fluorescent algae, disturbed in the seas at night.

I saw a flying fish today.  Those things are fast and are out of the water so much that they should be birds.  Rick says that they have a terrible odour.  At night fluorescent/neon algae growing in the water glows as it makes contact with the boat’s wave.  The glowing light from the disturbed algae is initially very confusing and looks like beautiful glowing bubbles.  This is a strange world for me.

I had the double night watch tonight and was on watch from 8pm-midnight, and then again from 4am-8am.  In between shifts, during Rick’s watch, he thought a squall was coming, so he got me up to help him lower the sails.  On the front of the boat was a large booby bird, having a relax.  Rick had to get the bird to move so we could get to the sails, but the bird was not ambitious about going anywhere.  Rick had to get so close to the bird that he was afraid it was going to bite him but the bird seems to lack even the ambition to bite.  It must have been a fight to get here, so far from land.

There is a mattress on the bottom of the hall in the center of the boat, which is the smoothest part of the boat during the rough seas.  We ‘hot-sheet’ as Rick calls it, as tonight Rick slept on the mattress from 8pm until midnight, and then rolled up his sleeping bag to go on deck for his watch, while I rolled out my sleeping bag on the mattress to sleep from midnight to 4am while Rick kept a look out.   Then at 4am, Rick woke me up for my other 4 hour watch, so I rolled up my sleeping bag, and Rick put his sleeping bag on the mattress and slept until 8am while I took my second shift of the evening on the seas.  Then at 8am, I woke Rick who went on watch until I finally rose for the day.  The mattress never cools down.   It is a pretty uneasy and uncomfortable feeling to crawl into another man’s remaining mattress body-heat.

There seems to be no boat traffic, but Rick says that some of the huge vessels cannot see any closer than 5 miles around them and navigate solely by radar.  If one of those huge vessels missed our 32’ boat on their radar and our paths crossed at sea, Rick and I would be grease-balls in the water.  So, one of us has to be paying attention to the ocean 24 hours a day and we will alternate double-shift nights.

On my 4am-8am shift I played guitar until my fingers hurt, then I rocked out to Iron Maiden’s ‘Killers’ album, and then Pearl Jam’s ‘VS.’  It was an awesome music session with the sun rising on the ocean.  Actually, it was better than awesome…it was fucking incredible.

 

Enjoying the moment of smoother seas.

Enjoying the moment of smoother seas.

April 16
I slept until noon.  I am getting plenty of rest.  I just wish it was a solid rest instead of this recuperation-from-body-purging rest.  I played guitar until my fingers ached this afternoon and my ass is sore from sitting around so much.  And with so much time on my hands, especially on the night-watches, I think so much about the same things that I end up interrogating about three or four thoughts that are bothering me over and over and over, and then I interrogate those same three or four thoughts again from a different angle, over and over and over, and then from another angle….  It is an intense circle of exhausting negativity.  It is horrible.  I need to learn to manage this part of my mind better.  I can see how men go crazy on the seas.  It is sort of a prison in many ways.  You are stuck with your mind.

 

Albatross having a look below.

Albatross having a look below.

The sea temperature was 90.1°F today.  Awesome.  The air cools when the sun goes down and at night the sea is actually warmer than the air.  There is a 5-6 knot wind blowing right now, and the seas are flat, so we are only cruising at 2 knots per hour compared to our usually speed between 4 and 5 knots.  It is strange how there will be an albatross or other birds out here periodically.  We are over 200 nautical miles from any land.  What are you doing here birds?

Rick says that albatrosses are so used to water landings that they usually have crash landings when they try to come down on solid ground because their feet expect the land to have some give.  That is an amusing, cartoonish, thought.

Today I ate a little bit of salad.  I tried a little juice.  An hour later, I upgraded to chilli, and a half a piece of bread.  Then I had to lie down immediately.  It was a brave move to eat that…  A stupid brave move…

 

April 17
*The Sea…  The sea can be at flat, rolling, rollicking entity.  It is beautiful on calm waters.  It looks alive, like a breathing chest as it swells and releases in different places.  Or perhaps the water movement is like stingray wings as they move, gracefully rising and falling.  It is so gentle, gorgeous and relaxing to stare upon.  It reminds me of knolls that move and flow, like very mellow rolling hills.  To look behind at our light wake, it looks like truck tracks along the gentle rolls of the prairie grass.  The tracks behind the boat rise on a mound, which moves, and the tracks on the mound behind that seem to have shifted so that they appear to not be from the same boat.  There is nothing except for rolling waters as far as the eye can see in any direction.  It gives one the feeling of being small, as well as the feeling of being strong.  The shallow valleys and soft rolls are perpetually shifting, and eventually disappearing in the distance of infinite sameness.

 

I have begun to feel better and I was able to enjoy the treat of cereal consumption without exchanging it for vomit this morning.  Hurray!  That was a treat.  Then as Rick and I were sitting on deck we saw a wine bottle pass us, presumably with a note in it.  Cruisers do that.  I took my eyes off of it for 10 seconds while we turned the boat around, but I could not find it again, try as I might.  Shame.  Rick told me that you are never supposed to take your eyes off anything, because that is how people get lost overboard.  Noted.  Rick said that he threw out a message in a bottle once near New Zealand and someone in Fiji found it and e-mailed him.  Very cool.

The water this afternoon was very flat, and there was no wind so we had to run the engine for most of the day to cover some distance rather than just floating and bobbing around.  My fingers ache from so much potential guitar rocking, and unfortunately for me but most fortunate for my fingers, the boat engine is too noisy play guitar aloud.  Sometimes there is nothing else to do in the day except squeeze pimples that I have already squeezed.

The relaxing morning sunrise.

The relaxing morning sunrise.

I spent the double nightshift studying the stars.  Tonight I discovered planets!  I saw Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn and in the early morning I found Mercury as well.  I had no idea you could see any planets besides Venus with the naked eye.  I am also beginning to recognize constellations.  It is amazing to see their relative positions to my line of sight change throughout the night.  They move entirely across the sky in the evening cycle from west to east.

The late-night rock-out included Iron Maiden, Stone Temple Pilots, and Neil Young’s ‘Mirrorball.’  I am really starting to find pleasure in the work of Iron Maiden.

 

April 18
I was up at about 11am and we ran the engine until 3pm when the wind finally found us.  This afternoon there was a huge boat/tanker on the horizon – our first sight of human existence in four days.  The boat was so big we were able to see it for 10 nautical miles.  Our radar told us it was a tanker 1100’ long, 195’ wide and drawing 70’ of water, heading for the U.S. mainland.  At 4 knots away, we could still make out all of its features.  The waves do not make a tanker of that size bob.  My body had boat envy.

The message.

The message.

The ocean temperature today was 90.1°F.  Awesome.  I was thinking about the bottle from yesterday so I took an old clear rum bottle and put an, “If you find me, e-mail me and I will mail you a T-shirt” message inside.  I threw in a couple of Beaver stickers, wine corked the bottle and threw it into the sea somewhere around 19° N of the equator between Guam and Japan.  I hope that someone finds it someday.

Our partner, the wind, came and went.  It would come on strong and then die down some.  Being on the deck to change sails when it is windy is very scary.  On days like this, I wear a harness attached to a rope on the boat’s deck when we are swapping things around, but the harness would not keep me from breaking my back if I fell onto the railing.  It is dangerous, and I try to be extremely careful.  I am a person who is not often consciously careful in life but working on deck with the wind and the waves scares the absolute hell out of me…

Our GPS location of my message in a bottle deposit.

Our GPS location of my message in a bottle deposit.

I had a lot of solo conversations on my evening-watch.  It is so hard to keep control of one’s thoughts during idle times.  The solo conversations are usually with girls who have hurt me, but we never had that specific conversation, though in my mind I have always wished we had.  My tongue is extremely sharpened from these idle times and this part of my body would be pretty vicious should any of these conversations ever actually take place.  No wonder sailors are always portrayed as moody bastards.  They are…  They have had time to be…

 

April 19
Rick had me up this morning to help change the sails while it rained.  I am on a day-six since my last shower.  The fresh rain took some of the grease off of my body.  But, as the grease comes down from your hair and onto your face in the rain, it burns your eyes and has a mucous taste when it gets into your mouth.  It is very disgusting.

After we finished with the sails, I went into the toilet and had three-wet-napkin-shower of my body using some of the wet-wipes I stole from the Hard Rock Cafe in London before I left.  After six days of grease, a three Hard-Rock-wet-nap-shower felt pretty fucking awesome.  Aside from my six-day-hair-grease, my body felt completely fresh.  I even put on fresh clothes.  It felt like a million dollars might be in my pocket and I would have been confident to go on a girl hunt had there been any within a few hundred nautical miles.

Angry seas.

Angry seas.

When I came out from my wet-nap shower, Rick had cooked scrambled eggs, corn-beef and hash.  It smelled so good.  However, I am an idiot…  That food did at fucking number on me.  It was way too greasy for my questionable stomach and I felt fucking terrible for the entirety of the day.  As an unwelcomed addition, there were huge waves hammering at us from and angry sea from dusk to dawn.  I was so sick I had to spend most of the day lying down.  And, being sick on this boat is not helped by the smell.  Freestyle’s scent is the combination of a greasy mechanic’s shop and a hair salon in one room where you would be able to fix your engine and get a hair perm at the same time.  The previously irresistible smell of eggs, corned-beef and hash blended with The Mechanic’s Perm and tried to wage a war against my stomach.  The smells banded together to try to play the puke game with me.  I hate that game.

Having to vomit makes me wonder about the idea of going into labour.  I realize these two things cannot be compared, but you can feel something building up and growing inside of you.  You know it is coming, but you do not exactly know when.  You find the right place to rest and wait, because you know this inside of you needs to get out of you, and will be exiting your body soon.  And, it is going to feel terrible, but you will feel a lot better after it is finished.  This is as close as my body will ever get to the feeling of child birthing.

The angle of our boat. If you turn this page so that the line in the middle is straight up and down, that is the exact angle our boat is leaning at the moment of this picture.

The angle of our boat. If you turn this page so that the line in the middle is straight up and down, that is the exact angle our boat is leaning at the moment of this picture.

I had the double evening-shift tonight.  I was so sick I had a hard time hanging on through the night.  I listened to Iron Maiden, Steve Miller, and Sabbath, but had to control my rock out-ness because my body was not totally up for the routine evening festivities.

Perhaps Carlos and I could not have become boat owning world travelling oceanic studs hauling naked girls around the planet after all…

 

April 20
After I woke up, Rick and I rearranged the sails.  The Trade Winds are shifting direction as we head further north.  I love how they are still called Trade Winds.  Old sailor vocabulary is interesting.  I think the word ‘friendship’ must have been an old sailor term…  Partnership.  Companionship.

I am still sick, but Rick and I have begun to speak pirate-talk for fun as I battle through.  “Arr, ye be feeling queezy matey!”  “Aye aye captain.  Me stomach has the might of cannon-fire inside.”  I was able to eat an apple and a bagel today but I am getting very thin.  No beer and very little food is causing me to wither away.  Plus, my body is always in constant motion, working to maintain balance with the rocking of the boat on waves of the sea, so I never stop burning calories.  One always has to have three points of contact, whether walking or sitting.  When walking, I always have to have one hand holding onto something.  When sitting, I sort of have brace myself with either two legs on something and one hand for support, or else two hands hanging onto something and one leg helping to hold myself in the sitting position.  Without three contact points, the rocking boat never stops throwing the body around.  It is an exhausting effort to consistently maintain a position.

Albatross visitor.

Albatross visitor.

At about 9pm, the GPS stopped working on the boat.  That confused us and we reset the system two times, but still could not get it to work.  We were perplexed.  Finally, I looked outside at the GPS and radar antennas, and seen an albatross roosting on the pole who was blocking our signal.  Funny.  I remembered the poem, ‘The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner,’ and remembered that the albatross was good luck, and how everyone almost died after someone killed the bird in the poem.  So, I encouraged Rick to use his other handheld GPS and the compass so that the albatross could relax for a while.  It had probably been days since the bird had a proper rest.  Rick stayed on watch for the next four hours and I went to sleep.

When I got up for my watch I seen that the albatross was still roosting on the pole.  Rick said it tried to leave a couple of times, but that it was scared because it could not expand its wings before jumping down into the air below to fly away because of the radio antennas that the bird had put itself against when it initially landed.  Rick and I had to get creative.  We took a long stick, fastened a flat piece of wood on top of it, put it against the albatross’ belly, and pushed it up and off from the pole above us.  The albatross was free.  However, the bird was obviously was not very grateful because 10 minutes later it came past the cockpit to shit on our seat cushions.  Maybe that is a token gesture of the highest regard from an albatross.  Or, maybe this bird was just a fucker…

After I returned from my next allocation of sleep, Rick told me that the albatross came back and tried to land close to the sail but at the same time the boat rolled over a wave, making the mast shift a great deal so that the sail cables smacked into the bird.   Then it kind of got hung up in the lines and was squawking and screeching until it could free itself.  Rick later had to chase it away from the GPS/radar pole because it was coming back to perch and get stuck.  The albatross does not seem to be a very intelligent bird.

 

Our beveled stove, riding the waves to stay level.

Our beveled stove, riding the waves to stay level.

April 21
The sea is 81°F, but the outside temperature is 75°F.  I find that very peculiar.  It was crazy-windy today and we had the boat up to 7.8 knots.  That felt very fast compared to our regular 4-5 knots.   The gusts of wind were so intense and the boat pounded into the water, riding like I expect a tank would.  Going out on deck to change to smaller sails in that kind of wind was incredibly scary.  It is hard to hang onto the boat.  I am always nervous that a wave is going to come over the top and crush me into the boat.

I ate a full bagel this morning.  It made me feel terrible because it was too much food for me in this state.  I am too greedy and undisciplined about food when I eat.  In consequence, I spent most of the day on the floor of the ship trying to feel better, while listening to the bubbles rip past underneath of the hull.  That is a very cool sound.  For dinner, I managed to eat at half-bowl of mac & cheese and an apple in more realistic rations.

When the heavy wind died down, Rick and I were out on the deck changing sails in the middle of the dark night.

 

April 22
I watched the late shift last night, so I slept in late this morning.  I commenced the days beginning with a three-Hard-Rock-wet-nap-shower and I changed my underwear, so the beginnings were with a fresh feeling.  Well, fresh aside from the nine day beard that I have on the go.  This is the most beard that I have ever grown, and the fucker is itchy.  I sure have learned something interesting about hygiene though; hair gets as greasy as it gets after about four days.  Then it just stays the same.  It does not get greasier.  That is great news.  And, I have become accustomed to it, so it hardly feels greasy to me anymore.

Bearding.

Bearding.

Rick cooked a pancake breakfast.  I ate two of them because they were so good.  When will I fucking learn that I cannot fill my fucking stomach?  I am a fucking idiot.  I was sick for an hour.  Am I actually capable of learning?  I am beginning to wonder…

Sometimes a wave hits the boat so hard that makes the noise I would expect a cannonball to make hitting the boat.  It is a good thing it is not the year 1526 or else I would be a ball of nerves.  However, we are fairly remote in our travels so even if it was 1526 we would be reasonably safe.  Only 12 sailing boats make a trip to Japan each year, so this is kind of special.  We left tropical waters yesterday and now we have to use sleeping bags at night because it cools down so much.  The sea has changed and the water was very rough today.  The ocean threw us around so much that I got completely exhausted of it, the body thrashing, and the rolling over waves.  I got fucking bitchy.  It is hard work to hold yourself in one place to sit down because your ass-cheeks keep on getting torn apart if you do not keep your body braced.  You have to have both arms anchored to something, and both legs pressured against something to keep yourself pinned in place.  It is gruelling to have to do that all day and I am fucking sick of it.  Rough seas fucking suck.

 

The Horse Emima
Rick told me a great story today.  He said that when he was a young boy in Alaska, his family had a horse.  His father, Kurt, was the grocery man and supplied warehouses.  Before he left for a trip one day, Kurt asked his business partner, Don, to feed the horse.  When Kurt returned from the busy day, he noticed the horse, and the horse was so sick that it was lying down.  Kurt asked Don what was wrong with the horse.  Don told him he did not know.  He said that he fed the horse and then it got sick.  Kurt went to investigate; looked at the feeding trough and seen that it was full of bread.  Don had fed the horse six full loaves of bread.  Bread is not something that a horse can eat.  There was no veterinarian around, so Kurt called the doctor on the telephone and told him of the situation.  The doctor informed Kurt, “You have to get that out of him.  He will die.  Horses get colic.”  Rick said he can remember his dad asking the doctor what to do and listening to the one sided conversation. They got the horse up and moved him to the warehouse.  The horse’s head and face was hanging, and he could barely walk.  Don turned the water on and handed Kurt the hose.  Kurt lifted the horse’s tail, and, “bloop,” pushed the hose in the horse’s ass.  After a while, the horse started neighing and fidgeting, sort of anxious-like.  Kurt said, “Don, I think he is ready!” and pulled the hose out of the horse.  The hose release released, and everything shot out of the horse.  Kurt would later tell his friends, “The wall was 30’ away, and nothing that came out of the horse hit the floor.”  Rick said that the horse let out a sensational neigh after it was all over…

 

Mildew suit.

Mildew suit of happiness.

April 23
No wind whatsoever.  The sea is still rough as fuck though.  When the wind comes from one direction and then stops the waves will continue to come from that same direction for another 24 hours.  And if the wind comes from a certain direction, and then changes directions, it will take another 24 hours for the waves to adapt to the new wind pattern.  Then as the boat travels against the waves it gets pounded into the swells coming in the sinister direction and it is violent as hell.

With no wind, we had to have the engine running all morning just to stay in motion through the swells.  And, it was fucking pouring, pouring, pouring, buckets of rain.  Rick gave me a mildew-meets-mold rain suit that had been put away wet months ago.  I was actually able to have a worse smell coming from me.  Cold, rain, rough seas, no pretty girls, no sex…  I am really really looking forward to Japan.  Today is 10 days without an orgasm.  It is the longest, probably double the longest, I have ever gone since I discovered things as a young boy.  I try not to think at all about women or sex.  Self purification?  Maybe.  I need it.

I have a lot of pimples and I am confused by that.  I wash my face regularly with wet wipes, and my diet is pretty much just apples.  The pimples like to show up in my mega itchy beard.  And my tailbone is very sore from sitting so much.  I use a lot of energy to keep myself on this boat every day, but 90% of it is while I am sitting on my ass.  It aches.

We had dolphins playing and swimming with the boat this afternoon.  There were probably a dozen of them, swimming and crossing under the boat.  That was pretty cool to experience.  It is also probably equally as exciting for them when they first find some kind of vessel travelling on the water that they can play with and turn into a game.  When they got bored of our docile movements, they ditched us.

The sunrise.

The sunrise.

It is slow going for us because we are fighting a current as we get nearer to Japan.  Fighting a current with the motor is a battle, but it is not so bad to sail against a current.  That is something that I have never considered before in my life.  Even with a current working against you in the water below, the wind on top is in control of your speed when you are sailing.

On my night-shift double I spent about three hours singing Beatles songs, belting them out through the night.  That felt awesome.  I am also getting really good at picking out the constellations in the sky.  I can now read a sky of constellations like words in a book!  What a great skill to acquire.  My favourite is constellation is Scorpion.  However, for reasons I do not understand yet, the planets that you can see in the sky are always in a perfectly straight line that could link all of them.  Maybe they all revolve around the sun at the same angle and parameter?  I need to research that.

 

Little birdie buddy.

Little birdie buddy.

April 24
This morning we were sitting out on deck and a little birdie came flying super hard towards us with his little wings, and then roosted about an arm’s length from where we sat.  He did not seem to have any fear to humans.  I could have cupped him with my hands he was so small, and we are at least 200 knots from land.  It looked to be a lot of work when he flew, so I have no idea what he is doing here.  He was pretty.  He did not seem to know what to do with himself, so he left the boat and flew back to us three times.

Bow ride rodeo.

Bow ride rodeo.

I rode on the front of the boats bow today.  I should have been doing that every day.  It is a very cool and smooth rodeo.  I am getting the hang of things here and I am learning to be a sailor.  Rick says that I am getting to be pretty useful on the deck, which I suppose is a good skill to learn.  Also, I have been learning to tie all kinds of fancy knots like any good sailor can, which will certainly be an asset in life, should a broke friend talk me into helping truck his furniture.

However, I am beginning to miss the outside world.  It has been a long time since I had any contact.  Nuclear warfare could be taking place and I would actually have no clue about it.  It is interesting to really desire friendship updates and news from out of my life circle.  Perhaps I might not be as interested in disappearing into the jungle for a while as I once had been.  I know that upon returning to land I will find out that things are just the same old and I will wonder why I bothered with this longing that I am going through right now.  More than anything, I just want to hear from the present girls in my life and I look forward to their e-mails and messages.

I just found sea-salt mixed in with my belly button lint.

 

Seeing another vessel on the ocean. Humanity!

Seeing another vessel on the ocean. Humanity!  I had missed humanity…

April 25
We had generally easy seas today.  It was the calm before the storm.  My night-shift started at 8pm and right then it began to pour rain.  I was in a rain suit, out on watch at the back of the boat.  The rain seemed to be coming from the end of a funnel, directly onto me in a torrential downpour while the waves were coming over the boat and crashing down onto me and the deck.  I was hanging on with both hands because the wind was blowing so hard and the boat was rocking too much to relax for a second.  I was sure I was going to throw up through my first four hours of storm battle.  The weather was too bad for any distractions.  Misery settled in to stay with me and I just had to sit there and be plummeted through my entire watch-shift, left to the punishment of the elements.  It was a very long shift of having the mildew removed from my rain-suit by the force of nature.  At midnight I awoke Rick.  He asked about my shift.  I told him it may have been the worst four hours of my life.

I fell asleep as soon as I got to lie down.  At 2:30am Rick woke me up because the winds were too strong and we had to change sails.  He told me, “The wind is putting the rails of the boat in the water,” which meant that the sail was catching heavy gusts of wind that were blowing the boat over.  The gusts would heel the boat to the point where the handrails were touching the water and much of it was coming onboard.  Boats are designed to always upright themselves, so there is never any fear of capsizing but it sure is uncomfortable and hard on everything, including Rick and I.

We needed to take down our mainsails but we had to have a smaller sail in place to keep us moving with the storm, otherwise it is a really rough ride of just sitting there bobbing and being smashed in the sea by the ocean waves.  I looked at the weather gauge.  The wind was mostly coming at 30 knots and the gusts were as high as 41 knots.  I got out of bed, geared up in my fresher rain suit and exposed myself to the deck of constant 30+ knot winds with blasts of gusts.  Rick and I were wearing our safety vests attached to a lifeline on the boat because going over-board in the dark in a storm means you are gone and dead.  There is no finding anyone again in those dark black waves of night ocean.  The boat was rocking so much that I had to do all that I could to stay upright on the very slippery wet deck in the wind and rain.  Huge waves of ocean were coming over the side of the boat and that smashed into us, seeming to aim for my face.  In the meantime a monsoon of rain was dropping from the sky down onto us in the total darkness.  While the elements were fighting us, we took down the mainsail and the staysail so that we could put up a storm jib, and a tri-sale which were more adequate for the wind.  Trying to hang onto a huge piece of canvas, designed to catch the wind in 30+ knot wind, to change around for another piece of canvas is a fucking nightmare.  I was so scared of going overboard that my mind was more focused on survival than it was on helping our situation in the conditions.  It was physically exhausting and nature made sure we fought as hard as we could to make the switch.

The toilet paper through the storm.

The toilet paper through the storm.

I went back to bed at 3am and was up to start my second shift after very little sleep at 4am.  The rain had stopped but the wind maintained its power.  At 7am, Rick awoke and we changed sails around again as the wind seemed to have let up just enough.  Rick took over watch, and I was in bed by 7:15am.  Rick woke me up at 7:45am because we had put up too much sail, and the wind was putting the rails in the water again.  So, we changed back to our storm sails.  I was having a hard time being a good sport about it, but I tried to smile and remain cool.  This has been a true test of being a man against the elements of nature.  I am just barely winning.

 

April 26
I slept until 10am and let Rick off to go catch some sleep.  The storm fucked us too much to get to Kagoshima, our destination port in Japan that we were only 74 knots from at the time the storm arrived.  We have been eastwardly blown way too far off course so we have decided to head for Kobe, Japan.  Rick’s entire Japanese harbor hop dream has been totally wiped out because of how far we have been eastwardly blown…  We were only 74 fucking knots from the fucking coast…

After the storm... Regaining control...

After the storm… Regaining control…

Rick said that the storm we went through was the worst he has been through in 2.5 years of constant sailing.  He has been through strong winds that are consistent, but he has never been through one where the wind went from 15-40 knots in seconds.  I do not consider myself very fortunate to have had the luck to experience the worst of his sailing career….  Kobe does help me as it is closer to Tokyo, but Rick got some bad news from his mother through his VHF radio which transmits an e-mail format called ‘sailmail.’ She said that we are going to have difficulty to get to Kobe because the paperwork sent in for us was for Kagoshima and we have no way of doing different paperwork at sea.  Rick is also afraid that the engine’s gearbox is going fly apart on the boat if we try to run the engine to get back.  We have not tried to the engine since before the storm because of the sounds it was making.

The seas.

The seas.

We are short on fuel, have gearbox problems, the seas are insane, I am sick and can barely eat, and now the wind is coming from the wrong direction so that we cannot get on track to Kobe as we head almost straight east.  We are only a hundred and thirty-five knots from island refuge if the fucking wind could just blow us north.  I am incredibly grumpy and I am coming apart.  I am stressed and tired of fighting the waves which shift the boat and slam my body into the stove and into walls, and into doors, and into the steps, and into the rails.  Yesterday Rick told me I am a good sailor because of my attitude.  Today I am a fucking angry wolverine.  Please get me to land.  It has been weeks…  I am mentally and physically exhausted from these fucking rough seas.

I had a midnight to 4am shift.  The wind was trying to blow us so that we could not point to Kobe at all, and then the wind just completely stopped.  I woke Rick, we put up more sails and I finally got to bed around 5:30am.

 

April 27
I slept until 10:30am.  I am fucking tired.  The wind, when it blows, is not working for us.  We decided to tack to try to get to Kobe, but then the wind completely stopped again.  Then I found out we cannot get our fresh water from the tanks because our pump stopped working.  Amazingly, Rick had a spare pump, so he worked to restore our water for two hours.

As I took down the useless sails I was hanging onto a rope, unsecured, when the boat started rocking so hard that the rope in my hands picked me up off of my feet faster than I could think and slammed me, back first, around a horizontal sail pole and then picked me up again and slammed me into the rails on the other side of the boat before I could release my grip.  I smashed into it with the right cheek of my ass and after I was able to let go of the rope I let out the angriest sound that my voice has ever emitted.  Had I let go of the rope earlier, I would have been thrown into the ocean so I just had to hang on.  Rick watched it all happen but was unable to help me in time and could only watch me get annihilated.  Fuck that hurt.  I am so fucking pissed off right now.  Fuck this sucks.  Fuck….

Rick checked the gearbox.  He removed a check-plug on the side of the gearbox to see if there was water inside.  It was clean, but then we had a quart of oil in a sliced container and no place to put it.  He asked me, “Do you mind?” and handed up the container with the oil inside.  I said, “Yes I do, but there is no other place to put it,” and so I dumped it in the ocean as expected.  That made me feel terribly terrible inside.  The oil was gone in seconds, which I guess that is how big-shot oil executives justify things mentally and are able to sleep at night.

We started the engine, crossed our fingers and put the boat into gear.  It made terrible grinding noises.  We drove for about 20 minutes and then stopped.  Our gearbox was slipping so much that it would certainly burn out the clutch.  So, we are stopped, there is no wind to blow us, and our mechanical safety net has us broken down and left us adrift at sea.  I need food and I need sleep, and I need to get the fuck off this boat.  I am so, so, so, fucking down and stressed out right now.  Hyun Jin has plane tickets for May 1st to Tokyo, and I am still two days from Kobe and the wind does not look to blow until day after tomorrow according to sailmail forecasts.  Someone is counting on me, and I am imprisoned on this fucking boat.  I need food.  I need off.  I need to get to land.  I need this mood and this stress to go away.  I need this fucking boat to stop fucking rocking.  I am sick to fucking death of this.  I am fucking sick sick sick of having to use every muscle in my body all the fucking time, just to try to maintain my balance and keep my body from slamming into everything on this fucking boat.  I want to scream at the top of my lungs.  I want to smash something.  I want to let go of any self-control and just fucking flip out.

 

April 28
I was really struggling to hold my mind together last night, and I feel like I felt what it might be like to go crazy.  I was starting to mentally unravel and I think I really learned something about me and the psychological state of mental health.  It would be grossly understated to say that I am incredibly stressed out.  We are stuck on this boat sort of lost in the middle of the sea.  There is no wind to move us.  Our engine is unable to carry us because of the gearbox about to self-destruct, 135 Knots from Japan instead of 74 like we were before this storm that came and totally fucked us…  I have someone flying into Tokyo to meet me in three days who is relying on me for financial security and for leaving the comforts of her only home life she has ever known, and I have no way to communicate with her to tell her that I am stuck in the middle of the sea.  When the wind blows, it wants to take us straight east instead of directly north to refuge in Japan.  The huge fucking waves remaining from the storm just keep on smashing into the side of our boat as we sit like an immobile bobbing duck being hammered by the ocean.  Seasickness has been bad, but it has worsened to the point where I can no longer eat.  I began coming apart and I have felt what it is like to flirt with insanity.  Insanity is not about something snapping in your mind.  It is about letting go.  When people say ‘losing it,’ that is a very accurate description of what I felt.  The people on the streets that we have labelled as crazy; they did not lose their minds.  They lost their will to hold themselves together and stopped trying to mentally hang onto everything.  A heavy stress of life came and they said ‘Fuck it’ and threw in their chips.  When life went further than they could handle they stopped practicing ‘sanity.’  Every day your subconscious holds you together.  You do not have to think, ‘I should not piss my pants.  I should not scream at the top of my lungs.  I should not spit on my friend.  I should not smash this chair into the wall…’  Your subconscious does all of that work for you without you having to think those things through.  There are commandments that your subconscious follows.  But, I could feel this part of myself letting go when I was so heavily stressed.  I had to mentally think about how I had to get myself together because I could feel myself losing it, and by ‘it’ I mean my care to care about my state.  Going crazy is not about something in your mind going wrong.  Going crazy is about no longer giving a shit about trying to hold your mental self together for the sake of fitting into the box of society’s scene as sane.  Interesting to know, but unfortunate to have to learn…

 

Freestyles engine room.

Freestyles engine room, aka, ‘The Mechanic’s Perm’.

I got up at 9:30am this morning because the sails were banging and flapping.  Rick was on watch, and there had been no wind since I went to bed.  We had traveled 3 knots during my sleep, but Rick was trying to get all of the wind he could.  Last night he used his satellite phone and called the company in South Carolina where he bought his engine and gearbox from to speak to a technician.  The tech e-mailed him information this morning with advice.  As soon as I got up, Rick was in the engine room, and attacked the gearbox’s clutch.

So, in the middle of the sea, as our boat was heavily bobbing up and down on the waves, Rick had the boats gearbox totally apart.  He took a shim out of the clutch so that it would not engage as easily, put the rest of the gearbox back together and realigned everything.  He was confident when he turned the propeller shaft by hand that the clutch was no longer partially engaged.  We started the engine.  We crossed her fingers.  We put the boat into gear.  It made an ugly gravelly sound at low revs.  We revved the engine to 1200 rpm’s.  The boat began moving and no strange sounds could be heard.  We set the auto-steer northward and did not touch anything else mechanical, no adjusting the throttle, no nothing.  We have been traveling for about nine hours straight now.  Fingers crossed.

Last night a little bird flew on deck and came down into the hull of the boat.  He found a small area to relax next to the chart table.  I let him be so that he could get some rest.  This morning I found him dead.  Either, being on the boat scared him, or he was dying and came onto the boat die, rather than death by drowning himself so far away from land at sea.  I told Rick I think that I think it was the bird’s spirit that brought us the 7.5 hours of wind last night.  Rick is not so sure.

Tonight on our cruise we saw in the mountains of Japan.  ‘Land fucking Ho!’  Land! Land!  It is our first land-sighting since Guam.  It is beautiful and most welcoming to the eyes.  Land is sexy.  I am so happy to see hills of earth.  I cannot wait until it is under my feet.  I cannot wait!  To be a normal moving and functioning human being again…LAND…  I love you.

Happiness in small things when you are struggling and away from everything. Like, finding beef jerkey!

Happiness in small things when you are struggling and away from everything. Like, finding beef jerkey!

In celebration, I went to cook some macaroni and found a package of beef jerky.  Wow.  I had no idea we had such a thing on board.  Meat!  I was so happy!  What a great day today is after-all.  I ate a lot of jerky, but I am afraid of my processing.  I have not had meat beyond a little clam chowder for two weeks.  My body may not be used to digesting mass proportions of it anymore.

There is a lot of boat traffic close to Japan.  On watch for the midnight-4am shift I had a semi-near-miss with a huge crane-boat that did not show up on the radar and I had no idea it was actually moving.  I cut in front of it, and when it passed behind me, it was close enough that I could hear his waves.  It was scary in hindsight.

Evening was a rock out to Iron Maiden and Alice in Chains all night.  Wow my mood is decidedly better…

 

April 29
When I got up at 10:30am, there was land on both sides of us.  Fucking awesome!  There are boats everywhere and we are still about 20 knots from Kobe.  Oh that is a sight to see.  Humans.  Life. Dirt.  I cannot hide my enthusiasm.

A hairy Beaver.

A hairy Beaver.

I had my first shave in 16 days.  I was a hairy one, but I am now a clean shaven Beaver.  It feels incredible.  Bye-bye beard, you itchy bastard…

*13:50 – Rick just used the VHF radio to call in to the Kobe Coast Guard to announce that we are coming.  No one answered our initial call.  I am sure that the first call went through and someone in the office went, “Holy Fuck (Nanjakrea)! English…!  Find someone!  Now!”  It is certain that we sent a panic through the entire office.  When we called a second time, two minutes later, a Japanese man spoke awesomely entertaining broken ‘Engerish’ to us.  It made us smile.  Human contact!

Pulling into Suma Harbor in Kobe, Japan.

Pulling into Suma Harbor in Kobe, Japan.

When we got close to Kobe, a Japanese boat went past us.  Five minutes later it was beside us.  There were two men on it who seen the US flag on the back of Freestyle and knew we had no clue how to get to Suma Harbour.  They told us to follow their lead.  At 4:30pm when we pulled into port there were 10 uniformed officials standing in line and looking very professional, patiently waiting for us.  A harbour master was there for the docking.

Some official tied us off.  Then two people from quarantine asked us about our health and made us fill in some papers.  Then three people from customs came onto the boat, made us fill out tons of papers and took pictures of everything, including our passport pages.  They asked us if we had, “Cocaine or weapons.”  “Nope.”  Then four people from the Japanese Coast Guard came on the boat and thoroughly asked us every question imaginable.  They were very nice, but they asked way too many questions about things that had nothing to do with their job.

Japanese Customs interrogation questionnaire crew.

Japanese Coast Guard interrogation questionnaire crew.

All in all, it took two hours to get through everyone.  Then the Japanese Coastguard told us that immigration was closed and that we are not allowed to get off the boat until we speak to the immigration people.  The Japanese Coastguards pretended to have handcuffed wrists to make their point and warned us that if we go to shore we will be arrested.  We must wait until the morning to see immigration to get off of this boat.  That sucks.  I am next to land but I am not allowed onto it…  I have not seen land for all of these days and now I am not allowed to touch the land right beside the boat.

Japan: The Hidden Nuclear Disaster.

Japan: The Hidden Nuclear Disaster.

I had been reading a rock magazine as we had been approaching Japan.  After all of the officials left us I realized that I had discarded it on deck next to the dock where all 10 of the officials had been standing.  One of the largest captions on the cover, obvious to anyone who looked at the magazine for a second, was ‘Japan, The Hidden Nuclear Disaster.’  That was totally accidental, ironic and naughty.  No one commented…

A Japanese man in the harbour came by and invited us for beer and barbecue at his boat.  Because of our situation of being unable to get off the boat, the man brought the party to us.  We had ten Japanese friends came onto Freestyle to meet us who brought fresh vegetables: lettuce, spring onions, mushrooms, cabbage.  Fresh!  They brought us hard-boiled eggs, a cured ham, ham steaks, 24 beers, two bottles of wine, a bottle of Japanese Soju, and some cocktail drinks.  What a welcome!  They apparently knew what foods we had been missing at sea, and alcohol is certainly an international icebreaker.  Well, we had a little party on our boat until about 9:30pm.  There were so many people on Freestyle that it was difficult to find space to sit down.  The Japanese were very nice people who just wanted help in every way.  They are great!

After everyone left, I made a motherfucker of a salad.  Rick and I ate two massive pots of salad and ham.  It was incredible.  I put myself to bed by 10:30pm.

 

Land! Touching Land!

Land! Touching Land!

April 30
At 6:30am I was up because I am unused to so many consecutive hours of sleep.  I tried to rest more and catnapped all morning and afternoon waiting for immigration to come and stamp our passports to allow us into the country we are already docked against.  We had been told to stay on the boat, but I had enough of waiting and went to the marina headquarters to check my e-mail (I had exactly 100 messages) and to shower.  A shower…!  It was a day 17 of none.  The 17th and the 4th day really feel the same and make no difference to each other.  However, it was time for cleanliness.  I knew it mentally.  Everyone we met last night probably knew it physically.  And that shower…it was 8 minutes of ecstasy.  I think it would be comparable to what monks feel when they achieve enlightenment.  I washed my hair three times to get rid of the dandruff and was surprised to find that there was nothing living in my locks.

Rick and I waited around until 4pm.  After 17 days at sea, it is pretty hard to be stuck on a 32′ boat docked next to land for 23.5 hours and not be allowed onto said land because we were on Japan but not technically in Japan.  We were getting very antsy when an immigration officer finally showed up.  He had a laptop, a fingerprint machine, and a camera with him.  But he could not get the technology to work and after about an hour of trying gave up and took us in his car to somewhere in downtown in Kobe.  I wondered what the circumstances would be is something bad happened, like a car accident, and Rick and I had to go to the hospital in the country that we were not in yet…

Today is a Japanese holiday, but we were taken by the immigration man into a very dark building that felt abandoned.  We were led through corridors and up stairs by the most stressed-out man I have ever encountered, who fingerprinted us and stamped our passports.  It was a very bizarre experience.  It felt like an underground immigration scheme had taken place to get us into the country.  Then the immigration officer in the car drove us for 20 minutes back to the harbour.  So, we are now in Japan.  We are free to touch the land.  We are free to be free tourists.  We have finally and officially made it to the country.  Absurd, and anti-climatic…

There were two Swedish guys waiting for us when we got back to the harbour.  They are going to stay with Rick on the boat for a couple of days and had planned to do some sailing with him until Freestyle decided to surprise us with mechanical problems.  The Swedes waited for Rick and I put on pants and shoes for the first time in weeks, and we went as a group to find some cash and have dinner…in a restaurant!  We entered the most Japanese-looking eatery we could find but could not read menu, so I asked our waitress for her 1st, 2nd, and 3rd favourite dishes with four beers to chase them down.  Non-boat cooking!  Not granola bars or apples just to survive!  Excellent.  After dinner we found a nice little pub to drink beer and Sake.  It was a really cool evening.  After not drinking alcohol for 17 days, I am amazed at how strong it smells, even from a far distance.  No wonder ‘mom’s always know’…

Four of us eventually headed back to the boat to sleep.

 

Dear Stephen,
Thank you for making this passage with me.  You did a great job to help me and were very good company.
Good luck with your travels and keep in touch.
Your friend,
Rick

 

Goodbye Freestyle shot. Shoes are uncomfortable.

The ‘Goodbye Freestyle’ shot. Shoes are uncomfortable.

May 1
At about 8am I woke up, got my bags together, and we all headed to the train station.  Rick and I made our man-goodbyes, had man-hugs, said thank you’s, shook hands and I headed off into the building.  I bought a ticket on the ‘Shinkansen,’ the bullet train to take me to Tokyo.  It took off and travelled at 300 km/h across the country.  It is very fast…and a lot faster than the 4 knots I am used to.  It would have been a 9 hour trip to take a bus to Tokyo, or 2.5 hours to take the bullet train.  It is that fast…  It felt like we were floating as we traveled the rails at that speed.  We blasted through the mountains, and the little Japanese towns and villages sure to be full of beautiful Japanese women along the way flashed by in the blink of a blurry eye.  It is like – MOUNTAINS.  MOUNTAINS.  JAPANESE VILLAGE.  MOUNTAINS.  RIVER.  MOUNTAINS – sort of at that speed as the train rips across the country.

Shinkansen - The bullet train.

Shinkansen – The bullet train.

I found the confusing Tokyo Metro system that is said to be the best in the world, I assume by the Japanese, and eventually got to the station where my hotel was located.  It was $322 for three nights, and it is downtown in Shinjuku.  Hyun Jin showed up at the room two hours after I arrived.  Awesome and so great to see her.

We walked into the busy area to eat.  I wanted to find some music and we came across a jam space where a Japanese guy directed us to a rock bar in Shinbuya that was closed.  Thanks.  So, we went to a busy restaurant where we were treated like foreign royalty.  There was a birthday party at the table beside us and the birthday boy gave us champagne.  Hyun Jin got very touchy, and that was making me very crazy.  I had to keep her hands off of me because I was going nuts.  We came back to Shinjuku and found a very shitty R+B karaoke bar.  After a drink, Hyun Jin got brave enough to sing like she wrote the songs herself.  We came back hotel shortly after.  We got naked.  Hyun Jin has two cold-sores on her mouth lips from stress to get here, which means no kissing.  So, we started fooling around and basically had prostitution sex.  Sex was fucking awesome!  My first orgasm in 18 days…  It was big.  Oh, it felt great to do that again.  My old friend…

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