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Passaging The North Pacific Seascapes

Written by Amelia Marjory

Amelia came into our lives last summer in Hanalei Bay. Her delight and joy in the world around her are contagious and we consider ourselves very fortunate to call Amelia our friend and to have had her on board TTR for our passage from Hawaii to Alaska. Amelia’s talents abound and she willingly shared her knowledge of the plants and creatures we encountered in Hawaii and Alaska. Amelia is a poetic writer whose imagery requires no photographs to support it, though I have added one short video to share Amelia’s zest for creating fun even in the middle of the ocean. Thank you for sharing your written vision from our passage, Amelia.

Amelia and Mary Grace on the bow of TTR.

After a sporty night of downwind surfing, Frank and Erik decided to furl in the reacher and fly the genoa around 0400. Suffering some tearing in the leech, the reacher needed relief. As did the crew. For, even from the cozy confines of our cabins, our senses had been on high alert— listening as the bows sliced through icy seas and silently stalled at top of each mounting wave before screaming down its vertical face. 

Even after fractioning our sail area, the relentless winds soared straight into our sole-flying genoa with verve. And while dawn disarmed the threat of darkness, the seas were still unsettled. Cross-hatched swells slapped the starboard hull and barreled beneath the bridge-deck, causing our floating carbon fiber earth to quake from the core.

I entered the salon just before 0500 to take my watch. As usual, Erik had gotten the rowdiest weather of the night, with roaring gusts that propelled us into surfs at 21+ knots. And, as usual, the seas, swells, and breeze began to noticeably calm as I took the helm. I can’t claim to know why, but there seems to be an unwritten night watch law that appoints one particular crew to “exciting” conditions, while another crew member is assigned to more relaxed circumstances. 

While Erik retreated to the cabin, I sat down at the navigation station to orient myself to our new angles, speeds, and weather conditions. My eyes jogged back and forth between the B&G screen and surrounding seas. In my foreground, digital numbers dropped and stabilized, while the seascape beyond expanded with each gentle heave of the respiring ocean. 

After a three day spell of being socked in and sailing through sea-level clouds, the fog was finally dissipating. Relieved, I watched glistening grey waves roll into an effervescent horizon… 

… Though the veil was lifting, a brisk air of mystery still loomed. Thousands of miles of open ocean surrounded us. Leagues of deep sea swirled below us. And we were still riding the edge of a precarious North Pacific weather system…  

***

Between the navigation screen and the evasive horizon, there are infinite points of focus. Each sense is riddled with stimuli of the purest kind— that of unadulterated, elemental information. And, as easy as it is for daydreams to dance in the romance, it’s the ability to engage with this profound reality that is the most fulfilling. For, the sheer vulnerability of traversing some of the world’s most formidable seas is deserving of unceasing awareness— if not for the sake of safety, than at least for the acknowledgement of gracing the raw edge of existence. 

With s/v Ticket To Ride as the chariot that carries us forth, the vessel that harnesses the elements, we ebb and flow with her calculated reactions. I’ve learned to read her mannerisms like a language. She’s a translator, an instrument for the influencing forces of nature. Rarely does she lurch or halt or reel without a subtle forewarning. The stern of the boat always bucks before sliding down a mounting wave. And the bows almost always rear up before the rudders slide out. Based on the shape of her sail or the sound of her rigging or frequency of her quake, she indicates the reality of the wind, the swell, the overall sea state. 

Therein, she (Ticket to Ride) offers an invitation to engage, to adjust course or sheet the headsail or travel the main— take your pick, play, optimize the elemental interaction. Or, just enjoy the ride. 

***

The rest of my shift consisted of watching the barometer rise, the solar batteries fill, and the tea kettle boil. Squinting into the lemony expanse, I scanned for freights or logs or treasures, but the only signs of action were bubbles in our wake. No adjustments needed. We’d earned a champagne sunrise sail. While the crew caught up on some much needed sleep, I saturated in the moment of serene, smooth, North Pacific sailing. 

Secret in a bottle! Amelia spearheaded our 1/2 way ceremonial wine bottle toss.
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