The days are blurring together. Our sleep comes in fits due to the watch schedule we’re on – we rotate three on/three off around six hour shifts during the day and four hour shifts during the night. It makes for long, choppy days of staring at the water, sleeping for a few hours, and then staring at the water again. It’s nice to have so many people on the boat, though, to counteract the monotony. Last night during our 10pm-2am shift, Joe, Harold and I told every joke we knew to each other – even the really unfunny ones – in an effort to stave off our sleepiness.
Either we got really lucky or really unlucky with the wind – but either way, we haven’t had any of it for 48 hours. Before we left Shilshole, I’d imagined that right now, just 30 miles from Cape Mendocino – one of the notoriously menacing capes – we’d be fighting with 30mph winds, steep waves, and a wet, slippery boat. Rather, the water is as languid and tranquil as a lake. I’m not complaining, although it would be nice to be able to sail. The mechanical drone of the diesel engine has been our near constant companion since we left on Saturday.
But where we fall short in wind, we’re making up for in marine life. On Sunday night, the water was illuminated by bioluminescence that we could see for miles. Each time a swell would crest into a white cap, the cap would light aglow with an almost neon hue. You could’ve read by the light of the water. We saw waves breaking tens of miles away. And in the sky, the stars formed thick clusters all the way down to the horizon.
In the morning we watched a pod of dolphins play in our bow wake – the first of at least four pods that have used our bow wake as a playground. They glide up to the side of the boat, jump out of the water and over the wake, dive down below the boat, and then come back up for more. We’ve also spotted sharks, tuna, seals, whales, albatross, terns, and the ubiquitous seagull.
Our lack of sleep really hit Joe and me hard this morning during our 6am-12pm shift. We were tired, groggy, bored of motoring, and surrounded by a thick, pea soup fog. Around 11am, we sat on the edge of the deck and looked out over water so flat we could’ve skated on it. I commented on how the water looked thick and filmy, like wax paper, when suddenly a baby Orca whale breached the surface of the water, right where we were looking. Within seconds, another one was with him. They played in our bow wake for a several minutes before mom, who was behind the boat with the rest of the pod, called them home.
Moments like these make the sleep deprivation worth it, although I won’t complain when we get to San Francisco. We’re predicting we’ll be there either Wednesday evening or early Thursday morning. We’re all getting excited.