Beyond Beyond; Episode 44


Changing Course

After leaving the harbor in Grenada Rich sailed directly west for an hour. He studied the narrow pass between Trinidad and Tobago. Only 20 miles of ocean separated them. It seemed confining and dangerous. He opted another route. He adjusted his course to 220 degrees for an hour and 180 for yet another. His eyes fell heavy and the mind grew dim as if a layer of fog set in. He made one final adjustment to 95 degrees and curled up in a blanket on the cockpit’s bench near the helm.

He slept for six hours, waking only long enough to check the heading.

As the new day shined upon his face he climbed below to chart a course. It kept his mind distracted from the events of the previous day. He charted to pass about 15 to 16 miles north of Tobago and after passing it, head 140 degrees until about 50 miles off the coast of Georgetown, British Guiana. He estimated it three days.

It never crossed his mind to make port at Georgetown. It seemed too dangerous at this point; he had little clue who might await him there.

The further down the coast of South America I sail the better,” Rich thought.

Back on deck solitude sat in. Not the solitude that can make a man go unhinged, the kind that cleanses the soul and rinses away the impurities. “I need to be clean,” he thought.

The conversation with Clyde was a lot for Rich to absorb. The sea is a good place to absorb a lot of problems and conversations. They can be dropped; they sink and never seen again. If they float the currents and winds can drive them away. And some simply dissolve.

Avoid human contact and conflict,” he reasoned to himself, “but that has not been easy or successful for me to this point. Perhaps the further away, the lesser the problems. Maybe problems follow. Who can be sure? I’m weary.”

It was near the end of the day the sea was as good as any sea could be. A reading was taken and The Odyssey pursued the rendezvous course with the South American coast.

Rich resolved to not step foot on land until off the coast of Brazil.

Two weeks,” he muttered, “two weeks.”

Days passed, books read, and stories written.

A night in the cockpit watching a moonless sky and mesmerized by starlight galore, Rich mellowed and his nature eased. He no longer had the companionship of Salty nor the responsibility of the old man’s welfare. Yet, his experience and seamanship proved invaluable. And missed.

As Rich sat at his typewriter and struggled with the right arranging of words he could not think of Sam White in a positive light. His skill and thinking was unmatched. However, he chose to use it in some perverse and persuasive way. Rich could her his voice, “Words move men. Select moving words.” “The pen is mightier than the sword – picks, axes, shovels, hammers, saws, bayonets, bullets, bombs. And if you have a typewriter and printing press you have an atomic bomb.”

Was he first a writer or a mad man. Did madness drive him to good writing or did good writing drive him to madness,” Rich thought. “I’m hoping writing will keep me from madness.”

I wish Dennis was here to help with his wise words of encouragement and correction,” Rich thought. “The sea is not his cup of tea. I wonder what he’s doing? What is his life like without Peggy? Peggy, I should have told Clyde about her. The best thing for Dennis was Peggy’s exit from his life. The best thing for life is for Peggy to be on an island by herself. If not for the possibility of reproducing I’d wish for Smithson to be there with her.”

Although Rich, at times, felt loneliness, at the same time it was nice to not regulate his routine around another person. No matter how compatible, 38 feet is a very small place for two people to coexist.

It was entertaining to have a pair of dolphins swim, leap, and dive alongside. For two hours they were Rich’s companions. Rich entertained them with song and dance also. “It feels good to be foolish,” Rich muttered and smiled.

Rich stared starboard and imagined 50 miles away lay jungles as impenetrable with green as the foggiest night he had ever seen.

Rich looked intently east. His imagination turned into curiosity. He flashed a half smile and thought, “How often will I sail the jungle coast of South America? Will I ever pass this way again? Why not?”

Rich changed changed course to 240 degrees. He ducked below and sat at the chart table. He rolled out a map of South America’s east coast. His finger ran along the coast line. “Cunani River,” Rich said.

He took a reading and a course set.

Rich read a little about the notorious tides and shallow sandbars along the coast.

I don’t want to run aground on a sandbar,” he thought. He popped up on deck just as the mighty coastline of northern Brazil emerged. He reversed course. “Perhaps another time or never,” he said quietly and changed course to the open sea.


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