Devi is learning how to harness the wind…
& will be away from the internet for a few weeks at sea––thank you for your patience!
Last night I slept on a boat for the seventh time in my life.
The first was as a Girl Scout visiting Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, circa 2002. My troop, Troop 531 (why I remember this number is beyond me. Memory is a strange and beautiful landscape), and I slept in rows of bunks under the deck.
As a ten year old who walked the line between caution and intrepidity daily, I was almost too excited to sleep. I tied my unruly curls back in a blue bandana and closed my eyes.
I dreamed I was a whale. What wild voices they have.
My second night at sea was on an overnight ferry crossing from Funafuti, Tuvalu to Nukufetau, one of Tuvalu’s outer islands (there are eight): Christmas 2014. I traveled with my friend Losite to visit her family for the holiday.
Losite & me
On the boat, which Losite nicknamed “the stinky boat”, I lived for a day and a half eating only coconuts and breakfast crackers, curled up on a woven mat on the deck along with the rest of the passengers, all Tuvaluan. I read Sharon Creech books to keep me from feeling seasick / overwhelmed.
The boat was delayed by eleven hours at the outset because we were waiting for a priest, and of course messengers of God have the power to delay departures!
We hit a storm that lit the sky up pink in the middle of the night.
Christmas Eve sunset from Nukufetau, Tuvalu, 2014
Christmas at Losite’s parents’ home
The third, fourth, fifth, and sixth nights were aboard a cargo ship called the Spirit of Shanghai that took me across the Tasman Sea.
The boat’s engine is the size of a house and hums constantly as it carries some 3000 containers from port to port. Everything shakes.
On the third day of travel between New Zealand and Australia we hit a low-pressure system. A particularly large wave almost bounced me from the bed onto the floor.
aboard the Spirit of Shanghai, May 2015
I learned to laugh at myself for walking into walls. I was so proud for not puking. One of the Malaysian crew members pointed to me and said: “You’re strong.”
My seventh night is here, now: aboard Far Fetched, a 38-foot yacht headed from Australia to Indonesia. I’m a new crewmember. I ask questions. I sleep on the starboard settee across from the galley in the main saloon. Last night I wrapped myself in a sheet and woke up like a burrito with two raindrops falling on my head from a light sprinkling of rain. I closed the hatch.
People in Townsville have been telling me all week how this is the driest year they can remember. Hopefully more rain comes for them soon.
For the last two days we stayed put at the Townsville Marina, stocking up on provisions and waiting for a new head gasket for the outboard engine. In a few hours, if all goes according to plan, we’ll hit the high seas.
I’m learning things, little by little:
1 minute = 1/60 of a degree of latitude = 1 nautical mile
a winch ≠ a wench
Pressure cookers work wonders for cooking chickpeas in a pinch. Yes, there will be hummus and my favorite gluten-free blondie recipe later on tonight.
The toilet is called the head and has an elaborate, hand-pumped flushing system. The two men on the boat pee into bottles. Myself and the other woman pee in the head, unless we are at a marina in which case we walk up to use their toilets. Gender is weird. I have never before wished for a detachable penis, but it sure would make peeing on board a bit easier. #realtalk
I feel like I’m on the inside of a tree.
(more photos of the interior to come… just have to leave now, so time is limited!)
Here’s the thing about boats: they hold you, they roll you, they wake you up and lull you back to sleep and somewhere in this space between all-out exhausted and wakefulness, dreaming happens.
Bike as seen from the port side galley window. (It’s only temporarily strapped outside — once we get underway, the bike will come below deck).
Sending love, light, and a healthy dose of buoyancy your way.
P.S. If you like my work and want to have access to monthly poems, photos, videos, and postcards that won’t be posted anywhere else, head on over to www.patreon.com/devi_lockwood to toss a tip in the proverbial jar. As a thank you for your support you’ll get immediate access to a video of me doing a happy dance at the top of Arthur’s Pass, New Zealand––the intersection of two continental plates. Having done a fair bit of cycling now, I can say that it doesn’t get much better than that. I was ecstatic.
P.P.S. Have ya’ll ever slept on a boat? I would love to hear your stories!