“It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end.”
~Ursula K. LeGuin
Sailboats are slow. According to Logan, painstaking slow. We travel at 5 mph. If we have good wind, 7 mph. We try to limit the distance we travel in any one day to 20 miles.
20 miles is not a long way. Logan was shocked by this revelation and said, “That’s only 20 minutes by car!”
Yep, we plan to travel 1,000’s of miles at 5 miles per hour. It’s a significant departure from our hurdling down the interstate at 75 mph previous lives.
The short traveling distances and slow speeds definitely lend itself for experiences that cannot be planned or anticipated.
In Joe’s Bayou, a couple of brown pelicans paddled right up to our boat one early morning. Brown pelicans are not small birds with wing spans of 6 feet or more and these two were apparently looking for a free meal. Roxanne tossed them some bread, she loves animals and feels a need to try and feed them all. Before I could comment she looked at me and said, “They look hungry.” These pelicans were evidently picky eaters and turned their beaks up to our bread.
Later in the day as we motored east in the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) and watched other pelicans (ones that were not on a food stamp program) fish for their own food. Pelicans don’t seem to fly but hover. They hang up in the air effortlessly like a helium balloon that drifts along with the breeze. Their eyes constantly scanning the water until they lock onto their target and when the time is right, they pull their wings in and fold them back and as gravity takes hold of the large birds they don’t just fall but seem propelled towards the water in a missile shaped attack pose. They crash into the water and completely submerge. Then they surface and sit in a duck like fashion and kick their heads back as if drinking a shot of whiskey and work their catch down their throats.
In a tiny pocket of water that is truly in the middle of nowhere. West Bay Creek was the quietist place I have ever been. With only the occasional breeze that you could hear rustling through the trees long before you ever felt it, there was almost no other noise. All the sounds of life that we subconsciously tune out don’t exist there. No cars, airplane, sirens, neighbors, TV’s, cell phones (there is no cell signal in West Creek Bay) or even the soft hum of florescent lights.
It was just quite.
With the hustle and bustle of the American way of life it’s easy to forget about one of the great simple pleasures of life. The joy of silence.
Dolphins are always a treat and no matter how many times we see them we always get excited. Roxanne was driving when she ran to the back porch (we’re not really into nautical terminology) almost screaming she was so excited, “Dolphins on our bow, run up there and take a look!”
I dropped everything and ran up to the bow and looked down into the greenish brown water and saw nothing. I looked back at Roxanne who was now back behind the steering wheel and she just shrugged in a, “I don’t know where they are fashion.” I watched for a while hoping they would surface but saw nothing. I leaned over the bow and stared into the water, focusing intently. Suddenly and without notice, two dolphins traveling in the same direction as us, jumped out of the water making a perfect arch, landed back in the water without a splash and then both proceeded to do a second jump just to make sure we didn’t miss their first show.
I was scared (I clutched my chest in a Fred Sanford fashion), startled, shocked, relieved and then, excited as kid that just rode a roller coaster, all within a 5 second time span. It’s one thing to see these beautiful creatures sitting in the bleachers at Marine World but something completely different to see them at play in the wild, 5 feet from the bow of your boat.
You always hear people say, “The journey is half the fun.” I always thought that percentage was rather low and slowing down just makes the journey last that much longer.
As I was typing this I saw an otter catch a fish and then a pelican swooped down and stole the otter’s catch.
I wonder what I will see tomorrow.