One morning he awoke to silence. He splashed the sleep from his eyes with cold water at the galley’s sink. He prepared a pot of coffee.
“Wake up, Zeke,” Rich patted him on the head as he lay on the bench. “We have a day of sailing ahead of us.”
After placing the coffee pot over the stove’s flame he stopped – arrested by no sound from the sails flapping, nor the sea rushing and dashing alongside the hull. The boat rested steady with hardly a sway. He climbed on deck and looked around him. The sails hung like damp cloths on a hanger and the sea rested as smooth as an iced pond in the dead of winter.
“Crap!” Rich said. “When did this happen? Regardless, it happened; whether an hour or four hours ago.”
Rich stepped below and prepared a breakfast for him and Zeke.
On the floor Rich sat a small tin bowl of rich milk mixed with a with a spoonful of syrup. “Your favorite little fella. I was going to teach you how to sail into a starboard wind today, but that will have to wait. I don’t know how long, but dang! Sorry, didn’t mean to alarm you, but a sailboat needs wind. Preferably aft, but no matter where it comes from, we need it.”
Zeke finished his bowl and stood as if wanting to sit next to Rich. Rich lifted him up on the bench to sit beside him. Rich finished his breakfast amid light conversation with Zeke. He cleaned the breakfast plates and carried Zeke on deck with him.
He walked to the bow.
“See what I mean, Zeke. It is like we’re frozen. If I knew where the winds were I’d start the engine and go there, but I save the gas for harbors and emergencies. My little wind generator is not even moving moving.”
For awhile they sat in the shade of the pilot house canopy. A slight breeze occasionally crawled upon them and hardly sent a shiver though the mainsail. Just as it seemed to offer relief and possibilities it was gone as if drawn by an evil vortex far, far away.
“I’d like to let you run free on deck, but I fear your lack of knowledge of the world around you and the science of buoyancy, which you have not been schooled or instructed, may cause you to venture beyond the confines of this vessel and fall into the sea. I want to neither suffer the experience nor any dire consequences that may arise.”
The day moved along like honey rolling down the side of a jar. Minutes seemed as if hours and nothing moved; the sails hung like a drunk on a bar stool.
Anxiety of a stagnate sea ate at Rich. His temperament seemed to gurgle like a simmering stew lifting the lid of a pot. An anger enveloped him. He mentally screamed at the vast unflinching openness. “Blow! Blow! Show me something, show me your rage, show me your power, show me your tears, show me something!”
He sunk into the bench in the cockpit and mournfully looked across the glassy sea. Zeke sat on the bench on the opposite side. He stood with his front paw against the back of the bench and tried to stretch and see over the top and the sea beyond.
“It’s depressing,” Rich said.
Zeke grabbed a small line with his teeth and began to wrestle with it. Rich leaned over and grabbed the other end and they began a tugging match. Rich laughed at Zeke’s seriousness over something he could not possibly control.
“Why am I in a hurry?” He said. “Even if I’m a year late who is counting? This may be the best day of my life. I don’t want it to be an angry day. I can make it what I want.”
“Zeke,” Rich said, “with these abated seas and winds I’m going to teach you how to be a good mate. I’m going to teach you how to retrieve a line and bring it to me. You will be the best dog to ever sail. I will teach you. We must start early. Yes some may think you are too young, but Mozart composed at three. Mozart; Don Giovanni. Never mind. The point is I’m starting you early.”
And Rich began to make training little Zeke a daily routine from that day onward.
Three days passed and late after noon a slight breeze came from the north. It soon filled the sails. The smooth waters livened. Beyond was back to slicing through the waves with gentle and graceful ease that relieved of Rich’s anxiety and imaginary time schedule.
Rich sat near the helm. He held Zeke in his lap. “I don’t want you raised in an angry place.”
With a renewed sense of purpose and optimism Rich sat at the chart desk the next morning scouring the Brazilian coast line for a favorable harbor.
Rich read his position and set a 220 degree course to Torres, Rio Grande do Sul, the last state on the Brazilian coast before Uruguay.