Travels after arrival in the Sea of Cortez (May/June 2000):
It used to happen a lot - right after telling someone of something we did or were thinking about, the listener would respond, "Ah, get a life!" After being "trained" by that response, we ultimately stopped sharing those sorts of thoughts and experiences. "Ah, get a life" was an attempt to reconcile the "delta" or difference between that special experience and what we should be doing, the demands on our time by the fast-paced work world we competed within. It was a reminder to refocus on the objectives and stop frittering away time.
Now that the crew of Nanjo lives almost totally in the Ah-get-a-life world, we have been a little reserved about sharing some of the prime examples. In some part it is because many of you need to remain focused on keeping pace with the demands of your career. Part of our hesitation is due to the fact that many of you would or could not live this, our isolated, vagabond existence 365 days each year. However, I am going to use this addition to share some of the humor of the "dark side" of Ah-get-a-life, the side we have graduated to.
The topic is flying fish:
As Nanjo returned to the Sea of Cortez, the flying fish population became prodigious. As I watched these wonders skim over the water, singularly and in groups, my interest became heightened. When a school of flying fish takes to the air at the same time, does it become a "flock"? Do flying fish "hold their breath" when they leave the water? Are their tiny little gills tightly shut, their eyes wide in anticipation? Will they get something like the "bends" if they stay out of the water too long? Do they have competitions to see who can go the furthest? Where do they hang their trophies? Do they have teams? You know what I mean, like in bike racing, by helping the #1 flyer to get an extra boost by "drafting" off the others?
Do flying fish mill around with the school in the shade of a passing boat and tell stories to wide-eyed youngsters? Tales of close calls with surface dwellers . . .
". . . it was unbelievable! I had just achieved a new personal-best height of 2.2 meters off the crest of a 45-degree wave face. The wind was 12 degrees off my nose to port according to my heads-up display." [You have to understand that flying fish must rely on high-tech instrumentation because they have no arms or other appendages to hang these gadgets from. Their wings must be kept free to achieve the most optimal lift characteristics. Their heads-up instrumentation include all avionics and are surgically implanted in their eye lids, an expensive and complicated procedure. For further understanding of the latest in cutting-edge avionics, refer to any Dale Brown novel.]
"A sudden gust lifted me another meter and I was starting to blackout from the elevation. All of a sudden a dark object passed under me. Dazed, I realized water wasn't under me! Then I passed out."
"What was it Uncle Gill? Did you run out of hydrogen?"
"No, little brother, I must have hit the mast of a sailboat. Because I lay in a pool of water on deck just below the mast. My nose hurt and the instruments in my port eyelid were out. So I must have hit a glancing blow, but now I was without port yaw controls and the GPS was out. Even if I got out of this, how was I to find my way home?"
"Were you able to get away, Uncle Gill? Can I see your scars? Is that why your eye looks like it does?"
"Yes, Johnnie. Yes to all those questions. But it was a close call, one I won't want to repeat anytime soon. It is a good lesson for you to remember - Don't go soaring when the Cruseros are running!"
[The saga of Galloping Gill, the champion flyingfish, is a tale heard in the evening winds on night crossings or wherever they blow. Listen to the wind in your area because the tale is like a feather, moving on with each breath encountered . . . soon to be coming to the neighborhood near you.]
Then there are those fabulous, flying Manta Rays, doing two and three rotations in the air. These have to be small, young rays. They leap about 6 feet into the air and stay airborne long enough to do multiple 360-degree, horizontal spins before reentering the water, only to do another leap. Did they see an Ester Williams's movie? Or did they see a dinghy spinning on its painter behind a cruising boat during a 40-knot blow?
Then there's the phosphorescence in the water in the evenings. There are as many "stars" in the water as there are in the skies. Can you find any "constellations"? When a school of small fish dart by, the Milky Way is recreated. An instant bloom, a solar cloud, dissipating back to a "star-filled" bay. Do those little organisms need light to see? Or are they using "light" to fish?
Talking about schools of small fish . . . don't they ever learn? Every morning and every evening, the birds dive and feed on schools running and jumping along the surface. One thought is that they are scared to the surface by larger fish below them. This may be true in the deeper water, but we aren't so sure about that theory when we are at anchor. Currently we are anchored in about 12 feet of water and can see the bottom. These frisky sardines, or whatever, appear to be locked in monkey-see-monkey-do recreation. With a commotion sounding like several people beating on the water, the school will do one of three things: a.)They bring just their heads up to the surface, with their mouths open. All we see are noses and eyes if they are coming at us, or eyes and mouth if going past us. Suddenly, the school changes direction with a thrash of the water. b.)They jump out of the water in groups, generally staying in one direction for a while. c.)They form a fish "slinky", one group exiting the water at the same place as the other group enters. This is most captivating. The thrashing sound is heard and there are always fish in the air, as if never entering the water. It looks like they do immediate turns just as they are half way back in the water.
When they aren't running, I occasionally find them, as a school, resting in the shade of Nanjo's hull.
So! Now I ask you - am I the "poster boy" for Get-a-life, or do I have to keep working at it?
Well just remember what Kermit says, "It's not easy being me!" [Or was it "green"?]
Crew of Nanjo