Day 132, Year 6 Atlantic Passage, Day 29-One Blogger to Another.with Love
Date: Saturday, March 5, 2011 (1730 UTC)
Weather: Overcast; Winds E 15-20 knots
Air Temperature: 82 degrees F
Latitude: 11 46.285 N
Longitude: 060 29.160 W
Miles Traveled: 33848 + 1878 S Africa to St. Helena
Miles to Go: 78!!!
ETA: 0615 Atlantic Time in Grenada, 0515 Eastern Standard Time
Location: Passage from St. Helena to Caribbean (Grenada)

This has certainly been a birthday with mixed emotions. During my Midnight Madness shift, just after the bewitching hour, I looked out to port to see if there were any ship lights. I saw no lights, but I saw something that looked like a terribly torn white bed sheet hanging down from our mainsail. It took a second to connect. “That’s not a torn sheet, it is our mainsail torn in pieces.” My heart sunk and I ran down to get Mark to lower the main. This was not something we were counting on and financially it is going to be a stretch, maybe too big of a stretch, to get it replaced. We are hoping it can be repaired, but I have to say it looked pretty tattered last night. So that was the first of my birthday presents that caused a few tears of sadness.

When I came on watch at 5:30 am there was another ‘surprise’ waiting for me. Mark had dug out the old Happy Birthday banner that we have used over and over for years and he had it hanging in the cockpit and he had used a headlamp to shine on his gift to me. I had admired a pillow cover that I saw in Simon’s Town with an embroidered elephant on it. I don’t know how he managed to buy it without my knowing, but he did. It is a special type of loop embroidery work that is done in South Africa and I am thrilled to have an example of it. This lifted my spirits a little, but I was still pretty down about the mainsail. Then at 8:30 am I went below to send and receive email. We have been close enough to civilization for a week now that we have once again been able to send and receive morning and evening, whereas before we had only been able to get out in the evening. Five emails came in and then I had to shut down to get on the radio for the 9 am sked. For the second day in a row we were not able to make contact. We could hear voices and even recognize them, but not understand the words. So I went back to the email to read what had come in and bring in the last two. There was an email from Alan and Helaine Kanegsburg saying that we probably already knew about a piece on our daughter Heather’s blog site. And they said if I didn’t know about it, the first thing I should do when I get to an internet connection is the check it out. Then an email came in from Heather. It was a copy of the blog entry she had posted on her Climatide.org blog site. She had decided that it was an appropriate entry to wish her mother a happy birthday by talking about the daily web logs I have posted for the past five and a half years. It was the most beautiful tribute I could possibly ever imagine to receive. And this birthday present caused more than a few tears of joy.

If you care to read the whole entry you can go to Heather’s National Public Radio sponsored blog site at www.climatide.org. But I’ll copy some of the message here so you can get the idea. Allow me to introduce one of my favorite bloggers, my daughter.

“Allow me to introduce one of my favorite bloggers: my mom.

Five and a half years ago, my parents retired from their careers as a
teacher and a public radio station manager and took off on the voyage of a
lifetime ­ sailing around the world on their 42 foot sailboat, Windbird.
It’s something they talked about the first night they met. It’s the stuff of
fairy tales and romance novels. But my mom has chosen to tell the tale in a
different medium.

Since the day they departed, my mom has kept a ship¹s log with daily entries
noting their location, miles traveled, the local weather, and (more
importantly) giving a detailed accounting of the day¹s activities and often
my mom¹s thoughts and emotions. Each day, she uses their ham radio and some
fancy software to send her text-only missive bouncing around the globe to a
server here in the U.S. that automatically posts the entry on my parents¹
website, handleysail.com . Although my mom was
baffled the first time I used the word, it is a blog in the most literal
sense – a web log. It is also a shining example of the ability of blogs to
forge powerful connections between people and places, regardless of
geography.”

The piece goes on to talk about those connections. Reading it made all the worries about the mainsail simply melt into the background. As I wrote back to Heather, the really important things in life have to do with our connections to people. Mainsails can be replaced or repaired, but our connections to people must never be broken. This is web log #1,559 that I have written since leaving Boston in October 2005. Tomorrow we end the long passage from South Africa and begin a whole new phase of the Voyage of Windbird. We will be back in familiar territory but the adventure is not over. Even when we return to Cape Cod in late June, I think I’ll keep on posting logs. Re-entry into the “real” world could be quite interesting, so stay with me.

Right now Mark is down in the galley preparing a birthday dinner and baking chocolate chip cookies-my one request for my birthday. We have had no baked goodies on this entire passage, trying to cut down on the calories while in the sedentary mode of passage. But I know I’m going to splurge tonight.

Day 133, Year 6 Atlantic Passage, Day 30-Arrival in Grenada!!!
Day 131, Year 6 Atlantic Passage, Day 28-Can't Get It Right