Sunday, February 8, 2009

I will draw the chart...

8 February 2009 - Patong Beach, Phuket, Thailand

I'm at an icafe for ten minutes so can't say much. We sailed for the first time today. Yesterday we spent the day anchored at the south part of the island, I forget the name of the beach. The first day we were all together, we got through customs, had dinner, then motored around the southern tip of the island and anchored. We were anchored there all day while John took care of last minute business. I spent hours in the water with Alysa, she's the surfer girl signed up to go all the way to Madagascar. I really like her, she doesn't say much and seems like a nature surfer girl. Says she'll teach me how to surf. I got on the board and paddled around the boat one time....and nearly died. Nat has cooked every meal and it is consistently, amazingly delicious. She doesn't speak much English, but you can tell she's smart and has a great sense of humour. The first night, three of us were waiting on the pier for John and Nat to arrive and walk us down to the dinghy. There were rats all over the place just ten feet from where we were standing. It was making Penny nervous. John and Nat walked up and Nat immediately stampeded over to the rats chasing them in every direction and laughing. She has a really funny infectious laugh. So John jokes to her, pointing to the rats, "Nat, you cook?" She laughs and then quickly gets him, "no, you eat?" and falls out laughing. Fiona joined us on the boat late yesterday afternoon for the first time. She had gotten bitten by a spider (in her ear) and had to go to the doctor to get it checked out. Not poisonous but she's in a lot of pain. I'm convinced she now has superhero powers so we've got that going for us. Last night for dinner we dinghied to shore and ate at a restaurant on a secluded beach. Sat at a long picnic table with other yachties, one couple of whom spent 6 months in Chagos a few years ago. Apparently Chagos is heaven or nirvana or eden or freaks me out because when I googled it the first thing that came up was that it is almost uninhabitable. It's got a US naval base, but it's largely just a bunch of atolls with no civilization. Wendy told us we will forget about our wallets because money is no good there...and that we won't recognize our shoes. But there is a community of yachties there and everyone takes care of each other. They grew a garden in the cockpit of their boat. Wendy said the women would go on picnics together...dinghy out to a secret spot and eat, drink and be merry (and I'm pretty sure she meant naked). Everyone seemed quite amused that John has put together a crew of five women for this journey to paradise. Three of the men delighted in detailing how horrific our seasickness will likely be. For two days you'll think you're dying...and on the third day you'll wish you were dead. John is so good though. He's really nurturing and easing us into the whole thing. He says seasickness is related to fear, control issues and inner ear balance. I think the way he introduced us to each other and the boat was by design - I had that 3 hours to acclimate by myself on the boat before the chaos began. He also told us to write down why we came on the trip and what we expect to get from it (though he always advocates having no expectations too). He's got lots of kinesiology books on board and is super laid back. Things are good. I was a little freaked hearing about how remote Chagos is going to be...but I get really excited thinking that it truly will be a total disconnect. The part about it being paradise is intriguing too. Apparently Nat is a great fisherman too, so we'll get to see her fish and cook. Yeah yeah yeah, I'll try to learn...okay okay. I have volunteered to cut there. I'm eating everything Nat puts out...including little dried fishies, complete with eyeballs. Crunch crunch.

Today was the day we set sail so it was a busy morning. John assigned me the task of scanning maps of the Maldives that he borrowed from Jim last night. I just keep envisioning myself wearing an eye patch as I pirate all this intellectual property. I spent over an hour scanning a giant chart in little A4 increments. No one else on the boat knows about the shamanic Indian curse. I'm fully committed to purchasing that book to break the curse. In the meantime, my very dear friend Rich says I've got one Armenian Orthodox deacon who is praying for me.

And the song that occured to me today was Rush's Closer to the Heart:

You can be the captain
I will draw the chart
Sailing into destiny
Closer to the heart
*posted by Ali's personal assistant in the U.S.


wheelo said...

sorry for the small font was bigger in the preview. if i'm called upon to post for ali in the future, i'll remember to use the larger font. of course, maybe it's just too small for me?
also, i just read your first post, ali. it's kind of interesting that you didn't want to curse the trip by declaring you were going to do it beforehand...but now you've set sail on a boat carrying a copy of a cursed guide to sailing. somehow, i don't think there was a clause in the curse about people who intend to buy the book being exempt, so i'm going to try to find this book and buy it on your behalf...but in case i have a hard time finding it, please email me the author's name.

Isobel said...

Hi Ali

Just sent you an e mail and got the message to go to this - it looks fantastic and sounds just the right thing to do.

I will follow your progress through your writing with interest.

I've just watched Why Reading Matters on i player from BBC 4 - a fascinating look at how amazing the brain is to have learnt to read and write using an interaction between a whole network of regions in the brain. And how this allows us to enter other worlds and characters and increase our ability to see things from other points of view, increasing our ability to empathise. Shakespeare seems to have been wise to the fact that the reader may drift a bit and so put in occasional neural kicks to literally electrify the brain eg - they thought so well of the hero that they godded him. Your brain registers that it's odd but good apparently. There also seem to be 'mirror' neurones which fire up when we watch someone doing something like dancing or read about it to the extent that we get a little of that feeling of dancing too. So language is not just comprehended; it's felt which could explain the powerful effect of reading (and writing). And now i can share a bit of your trip through your blog - fab.

I've just booked on the novel writing course at Moniack Mhor in July with Richard Mason and Louise Welsh - seemed like a good idea to help with setting incentives or targets...

Take care and happy sailing, have the time of your life and may you never be seasick

All the best