An argument breaks out between two of the crew members and one flies off the handle and looses it on another. The tension is thick, heavy and threatening in this confined space. It hangs as if not knowing which way to go. I go on the deck and feel annoyed that people get caught up in petty ness. I want to yell, how can you get caught up in something so small when there is so much majesty all around us, there is magic happening out here people. I keep quiet but want to tell the aggressor that he is so far out of line for tearing a strip off a crew mate. It is 24 hours before this tension disappears.
It’s hard to imagine from the space of land what the dynamic or day to day life is like on a small boat making its way across an ocean. At times things feel very harmonious and we are all in sync and at others the mood of one or a tension between two can affect the whole balance of the boat.
Playing Around remains steadfast and unflinching as she sails, beautifully, determinedly to our destination. There’s lots to learn from boats.
Shortly after this the auto helm packs in. In the aftermath of the tension there is little desire to work together to problem solve. I decide I am going to fix it if nobody else is. I know nothing about the electronic part or the mechanism of an auto helm but I have just put myself on a crash course. I find a small trap door at the back of our bunk and stick my head in there and can clearly see the auto helm mechanism nothing obvious there and it was the display that went out so I start looking for the electronic parts.
Annie helps me pull 12 bags of garbage out of the lazarett along with a ladder, a hose, an emergency helm a few buckets and other miscellaneous bits and bobs. The cockpit is piled high with all of this stuff and the lazarette stinks of garbage. I climb in and wiggle my way forward to where I can see the electrical panel for the auto helm is. 5 black wires go into the box and they look intact. I take a photo. I then follow the wires to the auto helm display right beside the helm, all look good. I climb out of the stinky lazarette with my second last clean t shirt smelling like garbage. I go to the electrical panel and check the fuse. “It’s not the fuse”, I’m told, well I’m checking it anyway. There is so much tension and apathy on the boat but Annie and I are determined and I am sure we can fix this thing.
Everything in my life is training for something I will need later, I tell myself.
We continue our watch and try to logically walk though everything again. I don’t let the fact that we are so far out of our depth deter me. We have three hours left on watch so we talk it all through again. The auto helm had been on earlier in the day and there were rolly seas and it was struggling to hold a course down waves. I remember hearing a different noise like it was straining. We look at the pulleys again and all looks intact. We can hand helm for the rest of the trip but is definitely a lot more fatiguing on the crew. We put all of the garbage, ladder, bucket, hose etc back in the lazarett.
We sail in the afternoon sunshine quietly trying to think it through. After about 20 minutes I look at the display on the helm and see that it has flashed on again. We are back in business. Squall riders fix the auto helm!
Later as we discuss this as a crew what is put forth as the most logical explanation is that there was possibly a thermo cut out after a few hours of straining and then it came back on again once it had cooled down.
Despite the challenges of this day I lean back on the guard rails watching the sunset and tune in to that beautiful motion of the bow cutting through the water and think, every day at sea is a good day. I have loved this day like all of the others.