Set Adrift

Posted by admin on March 06, 2016

Set Adrift.

Chapter 1

Ready To shove Off

 

After weeks of planning I'm ready. The boat is fully supplied, food, water, diesel. The holding tanks have been pumped out. I have up loaded the route on the GPS plotter. Checked out the radar, marine radio including the hand held. I have checked out all the engine fluids. I have a set of spare parts stowed. My wet and dry-suits along with my scuba tanks, regulator mask, fins, fishing gear all checked out. The diesel compressor is in working order. I have a new satellite phone. I do have a sat / com system I have been making ready for the trip. That will enable me to get weather and news on the trip. I will also be able to send and receive email. My float plan has been filed and I'm ready to go. My first solo crossing. I won't be really by my self on my boat, Celtic Mistress I taking my cat with me. She seems to like being on the boat. Of course that just might be my interpretation of her actions. She spends most all her time below deck. She can climb the steps well enough. She comes up and suns once I drop anchor, but the ocean spray is another thing. She avoids that. Salsa is her name and she has been sailing with me since I got the boat three years ago. She's seven years old now. Joey spent one year teaching the cat to use the head and she does! She has earned all four of her sea legs. We were out to the leeward side of Catalina when a storm came up. I knew it might happen but I needed to see how the boat, salsa and I would handle it on the open sea in a storm. We rocked and rolled for hours. Salsa hung on with all her claws on the bed in the aft stateroom. When I got the my 50 ft center cockpit Hunter, my wife Jacky was dead set against it. She soon discovered she liked the notoriety and the parties on the dock. The actual sailing she did not like so much. This trip is a perfect example. It's my first trans pacific crossing to Hawaii and then on the Fiji. She thinks the idea of a 28 day crossing to Hawaii is for the birds. What would we do for all those days alone together? I know she and I have been drifting apart for the last few years. Our son Joey is in high school now and spending a lot more time with his friends than he does with us. He and I love sailing. As father and son we have that. Jacky my wife said absolutely not when I wanted him to come along. She said It's okay if you get lost at sea but I couldn't stand loosing both of you. To be honest I think she is hopping I do get lost at sea. She did take a good sized life insurance policy out when I got the boat. She said she and Joey would take a plane and meet me once I got there. She might want to complete the trip to Fiji. But she wants to make sure the boat, and I, can handle it. Dumb question. I have solo sailed down to Cabo more than once. Every time we have a fight over something, and that is to often, she tells me I should go spend the weekend on the boat. I have my suspicion she if having an affair. I don't really care with who. She is the only woman I have ever loved. She may not be in love with me,anymore. I'm spending the night on-board so I can leave at first light or after I have a good breakfast. Right now I'm thinking after breakfast. I will be following the current. Out of the harbor south for 100 miles and then west. I'll spare you the real heading. For most people it's just so many numbers anyway. I have spent weeks on a chart plotter getting ready. The auto pilot and radar will be running at night. I can get some sleep that way. The night before Jacky and Joey come out to the dock for dinner at the restaurant just down the street from the dock. It was kind of funny. I had a steak and Jacky had fish. Joey went half way. Surf and turf. That kid can really eat. It was a good night. Joey asked if he could spend the night on the boat with me. His mom said no. She did not want to get up early and come get him. spending the night with us is out of the question. Joey is 15 and can't legally drive yet. Although I let him drive sometimes. It's good practice for him. After dinner Jacky gave me a decent hug and kiss goodbye. Joey gave me a hug and said I had to send lots of emails with pictures, even if it was just open water. I kissed him on his head and give him a big hug. He is the best part of what came out of Jacky and my marriage. I head off to the boat and they head to the car. I climb aboard and close the hatch. It's still early. Only 21 hundred hours local time. That 9pm for you land lovers. I do have a few bottles of wine on board. Maybe not enough, I decide to open one. Salsa likes a good wine. I have to give her a little or she will try and stick her head in my glass and take a drink anyway.  My cat and I share some of the wine I double check the weather. It's still looks good. That's one thing off my mind. I'm on shore power until I'm ready to shove off. I have solar panels on the Bimini and two 1k wind turbines on the stern. For the trip. I checked the charge capacity of the battery banks. All electrical functions check out. Another glass of wine. And I'm feeling it a bit. Then I realize I have finished the bottle. I shut down all but the red floor led lights and turn in. Salsa is at the foot of the bed curled up sleeping. I take off all by my teeshirt and underwear, climb in, set my clock and go to sleep.

Chapter 2

Off We Go!

 

The alarm clock goes off at 06 hundred. I sit up and look around. Theres not much light coming in the ports. No yet. On the large glass escape hatch over the bed. I have affixed it with a sun blind covering it. I open it to take a look around. The air is cool and moist. The sun was just coming up. I look toward the east. I'm happy to say I do not see a red sky this morning. It might be just a superstition, still better safe than sorry. I close the hatch and put my clothes on. I grab a coat and head to the main salon. Salsa is waiting for me. She needs her breakfast as well. I give her a little cup of dry food. I just about kick my self. I forgot to get her food for the trip. It looks like breakfast and a trip to the local store. Oh well I decid I need more wine anyway. I grab a small day pack. This should hold everything I need. I head to the same restaurant I was at the night before. I take a seat. The waitress comes and pours me cup of coffee. I have seen her there for the last year. She asks if I want the usual? I respond with a yes. Three egg omelet with spinach, bacon, tomatoes and black olives. A side of hash-browns English muffin with strawberry jam and orange juice. As I think about it I should get some fresh fruit for the trip. Don't need scurvy now do we! Na, I just like fruit. I eat my food and tell Katie my waitress I will be back in four months. She's surprised to here the trip will be so long. I just smile and say yes, the whole summer. I leave a good time and head for the market. It opens early for the fresh produce. I walk in and grab a cart. The store is busy for this time of day. There are a few people in there with multiple carts. Looks like I'm not the only one heading out on a trip. I pay for everything and pack my day pack. The cat food take up a lot more space than I thought it wood. I walked back in and got a canvas bag. And back out I go. I transfer the light stuff into the sack. The 15 pounds of cat food goes in the pack on my back. The walk alone to the boat was not a great one. All the way I imagined a fanfare for the departing explorer on a trip to discover new lands and people. Of course that was not the case. All the land on this planet was well know. But not to me! Neither are the peoples and cultures I would find in the new ports of call. This made me want joey with me. I wish I could give that to him. A real adventure experience. I guess you can have one from the back of a cab after getting off a plane. For me it will never be the same. From my trips to Cabo and down south I can tell you that people in small fishing town are a lot different than those at the resorts. The people seem more real. I get back to the boat and stow the new food and what not. For getting out of the harbor and from the dock I crank up the diesel. I would need the bow thrusters to do the shoving off for me. I release the tie down lines and stow the fenders. A little nudge from the thrusters and off I went. Before I got out of the harbor I put on a life line and hooked it to one of the cleats. I set the motor on slow. I would wait to get some distance from the harbor before I unfurled the sheets. 5 minutes later I was far enough out. I put her into the wind and began setting the sails. With a quick turn of the helm I turned to. The sales filled with the breeze. I winched the halyards and taught the sheets a bit. She healed over just a bit to port. I was off. I killed the motor. It was now just me, the wind and the ocean. 07.45 I was officially under way! I took out my binoculars and looked around for what I could see. Nothing weather wise on the horizon. The breeze is a good one I'm doing 6 knots. I make a little adjustment to the heading and picked up another knot. As I watched the helm a guy in a speed boat came charging 200 yards of my starboard. I watched as he fought the bucking waves. Motor screaming. It reminded me of something my dad said to me one day we were out sailing. I told it to joey as well. He and I were sailing one day and we saw something similar. Dad said it best. He started to laugh and said to me,  That guy over there. He's going like hell to try and get to where at, right now. with that he pulled his hat down over his eyes and handed over the tiller to me. It was in that moment that I had complete clarity and understood the never ending joy of sail and ocean. The relaxation and freedom I felt just going with the flow. There nothing like it. It something I'm glad I could share with my son.

I was now about three hours in the south heading. I flicked on the gps on my cell phone. I have an app for sailing. Of course it won't work in a few hours. I'll be out in blue water and far from a cell tower. Hence the satellite phone. No cell tower in the ocean. At least not yet. For emergency calls it's the sat phone. According to the phone app. I was making good time. Not really that big of a worry I have enough food to last 2 people 90 days. And fishing gear. Yes I'm paranoid. It's the best way to prepare for a long crossing. I flip on the auto pilot, unhook my life line and head below. Bathroom time. I take a seat. Next thing I know Salsa is rubbing ageist my legs. I reach and give her a scratch. She starts to purr. I so love the freedom of this boat. I can have all the comforts of home. And if I want to change the neighborhood I hall up the anchor and move. It's just that easy. For me sailing equals freedom. I flush pull up my pants and head back up. Grab a bottle of water, grab my guitar from off the bench seat behind the table. Standing watch on a small sailboat like mine is not very hard. It is a lot of hours. Playing guitar helps pass the time. Not that I'm board. I would rather be on the ocean than just about anywhere. Once back at the helm I reattach the life line. I have heard stories of people not having it on and falling overboard while underway. If they are alone, their probably dead. I practice for a while. An hour of two. I check the GPS for course and speed. I may not be in a hurry but I do have to know when to shift and head west for Hawaii. Going with the current I have made better time than I had hopped for. In another hour I should be ready to turn to and make the west run. Till now I have only been about 12 miles from shore. It's a lot different on a crossing. Weather becomes your world. So much more so than just off the coast. In blue water you have nowhere to run. It's been about 10 hours since I last ate. I unhook and head back down to the galley. I make my self a sandwich. I may have a fridge and a freezer. But you want to eat the fresh stuff first. Save the frozen for latter in the trip. Waist not want not. If Joey was with me he would be taking a nap. With two people one sleeps and the other keeps watch. You take turns. I wish he was on this trip for a lot of reasons. If his mom is going to leave me for some other guy, and I feel that one coming, I want him to know I love him and he is always welcome aboard. No matter what his moms wants or thinks. In a couple of years when he turns 18 she wont be able to stop him anyway. Did I drive her away? I would have plenty of time to think about this. The next 27 plus day to ponder this question. Now I really wish Joey was here. According to the gps it was time. I released the auto pilot and put her into the wind. A little scrambling latter I had the sails reset. I took a look behind me as I headed into the sun. Into the sunset if you will allow me that one. I could not see land from my current position. It didn't matter. I could truly say I was on my way. I gave a little salute to all the sailors and ships that have gone before. I have a sextant and I'm pretty good with it. I use it as back up. It makes things feel a bit more real for me. Besides, It's so easy with gps, auto pilot and radar. Almost feels like cheating. I decided to take a picture for Joey. He did say he wanted a lot of them. This would be a good one. The sun was hanging low in the sky and the temp was starting to drop. The wind was slowing down. Time to check the weather, turn on the nighttime running lights set the radar prolixity warning for 3 miles. A lot more than I need buy the way. I check my watch. And head below deck. Close the transom and settle in. I take a seat the nav station. I looked at the radar screen. It was all clear. This is a shipping lane after all. The radar would help identify me to others and let me know if a big cargo ship was heading my way. I have a laptop, but I prefer to keep the ships log by hand. The way it has been done for thousands of years. Ships log day one. Time of entry 20:00 hours PDT. Weather is great. I have made my first day south and at 19:30 I turned to. Approximate distance traveled at time of entry, 89 nm. Now heading do west. Approximate time for crossing 27 days. I wish Joey was here. I closed the book. The galley is about 2.5 steps from the nav station. Time to cook. For the first night I pull out nice stake. Salt and pepper, turn on the gas for the stove. Lite it. Take out a pan, a little grape seed oil. Some frozen corn in the microwave and I think I'll have a glass of wine. I will not be putting the wine in the ships log. I had dinner, cleaned up. Stowed everything and turned the gas for the stove off. I decided to check on deck one more time. The sails look good. No luff to speak of. I make a check of the plotter. All good. The wind is really light. I'll leave the sails out. If the wind picks up heavy I'll have to furl them in. for now it's all good. Back below I make my self ready for bed. Brush my teeth, hit the head. Salsa is sitting on the bed waiting for me. I climb in and turn on the tv. Call up a movie off the hard drive. It's an older movie I choose. it's called Nate and Hayes it's a good pirate with Tommy lee Jones. I'll never forget watching it with my dad. Right in the middle of one of the boat chase scenes. On the high seas there is a 4.5 point earth quake. We look at each other wondering if it was the movie or an earth quake. When we realized it was an earthquake we laughed our heads off. After the movie was over I shut the lights off and pulled the covers up. I set my clock for 0700 and went to sleep. The motion of the sea was like a genital rocking. On a fifty ft. sail boat it's never that bad. Unless there is a storm. Then all you can do it batten down the hatches and ride it out. I was asleep in no time. In the middle of the night I though I heard footsteps. Turning one one of the lights I looked around. Salsa was still asleep at the foot of the bed. I have a repeater screen for the radar in my state room. I checked it. It was clear. No ships within the three mile limit. Nothing at all. That's strange I thought to my self. My radar has a 8 mile range. And it was clear. That's odd but not unheard of. I guess I must have been dreaming. Salsa raised her head and looked at me with disdain for waking her up. I gave he a scratch behind the ears, said I was sorry and turned the light back off.

Chapter 3.

Next Morning, Day 2.

I wake up before the alarm goes off. It's about 0630 and the sun has not quite come up. I hit the head and get dressed. I throw on a coat. It's not going to be warm very on deck. The coffee maker is primed and ready. I push the button and wait for the dark roasted wonder juice to help brace me for the day. I take out a scoop of oatmeal put it in a glass measuring cup with milk and stick it in he microwave. 2 minutes later I have a hot meal. I grab a banana and take a seat at the nav station. With a couple of buttons pushed I have my current position. It looks like the wind died out last night. I've drifted a bit. I hope the wind picks up after the sun really comes up. I should be back on course with in an hour. If the wind drops off that much tonight I'll drop a sea anchor off the bow. That should, at least lesson the drift. The coffee has enough for a good cup. I so need it this morning. I'm still a bit off from last night. I check the all the gauges. Fuel all but full. Water full, holding tank I have only used it twice, I'll call it empty. The all important battery gauge. 95% within a good range. It is a bit down for only one night use. The two 1,000 Watt wind turbines and solar Bimini will take care of that in just a few hours with wind and sunshine. No worries there. Not yet anyway. I double check the radar before I'll shut it down at the helm. Not a craft in sight. This is a good thing. I finish my oatmeal, coffee and banana. I decide to toss the banana peal over with a hook in it. Might catch dinner before the wind picks up. You never know. I have a pole stowed in a locker up top. I fill a thermos with coffee and out I go. Once at the helm I look at the sails. They aren't even luffing the anemometer at the top of the mast is hardly spinning. The wind speed is 1 knot. I'm not going much of anywhere for a while and certainly not very fast, but I am making some progress. The sun is starting to obtain full brightness. The sun glasses that are hanging around my neck are implemented. It's a bit cold still. I start to close the transom. Salsa is making her way up the steps. She looks at me. Well, come on up! No spray right now. She pokes her head out and sniffs the air. I guess it's a bit cool or she just wanted to know what's up. She heads back down. I just laugh and close the transom. I put on my life line. Shut down the radar. I lock the helm and pull out a pole. I bite a piece of the banana peal and bait the hook and cast it on out. I let it sink a bit and put my feet up. Open the thermos and take a sip. Put it in a cup holder. This is the life fishing on a boat not a care in the world. I let my mind start to wander to the last time Jacky and I had a big fight. I'm trying to remember what pissed her off so much. Oh yeah, now I remember. I asked her what she wanted to do for Joeys upcoming 16th birthday. She wanted to rent out a ball room, have everyone dress up and have a big formal dance party. Catered with food and a DJ. I said a party at the house would be better. Better still why don't we let Joey decide. That's when she really hit the fan. There was no calming her down. Joey tried to tell her he did not want a dance party for his 16th he would rather have his close friends over on the boat for a sail to Catalina. She stormed off when he said that. I think what she really wants is a big party so she can impress her friends. At least the people she calls friends. I don't know what happened to her. She never used to be like this. When we meet we had nothing. Just a desire to fall in love with the right person. Have a family and make the world, our world a little better. We only had one child. Joey right form the start he was his own baby. I don't know what drummer he heard but always followed it. He's stubborn and likes thing his way. I think he get that from the his mother, well and me too! He doesn't like sharing his things much. I can't say I blame him. I have watched his, childhood friends break things with such disregard for how much Joey liked it. This boat for Joey was something he could share with me. We both take care of it. I have even let him take it out by him self. He truly is a good sailer. The hours we have spent on board her. Learning the feel of how she takes the wind. Her roll and pitch. I would have to say the old saying is true. Boats have a spirit of there own. It as if they are in some small way alive. I feel a tug on the line. I think I might have caught something. I real it in. it's not much of a fight. Whatever it is it can't be that big. I pull it out of the water. I managed to land a red snapper. This will make a fine meal. I needed to get in cleaned and on ice. Maybe I'll have it for lunch. If the wind stays as light that is. I check my depth to bottom. It's too deep to drop anchor. I could deploy a sea anchor. That sounds a bit defeatist. I'm still hoping that the wind picks up and I can get back under way. I clean the fish and take it below. I pop it into the freezer to chill down. While below I check the radar. It all clear. I'm still close enough to pick up NOAA marine forecast. The robot voice comes on and gives the report. I'm in luck it says it should pick before noon. All I have to do is sit and wait. Not much else I can do anyway. I'll keep the sails unfurled let the sun dry them a bit. We reached dew point last night. My fish is on ice, I make a trip to the head. Before I head back up I look at Salsas food cup. It's full. She is sitting on the port lounge looking happy. She's cleaning herself. I head top side. The wind has started to pick up. I adjust the helm and she picks up a little speed. I wrote my float plan with the idea I would have a few days of the doldrums to sit through. So close to shore only 100 nm this would be a sad thing indeed. An hour latter the wind had picked up again and I was turning a good 11 knots and with the current I was doing about 13. the wind genies on the stern were turning nicely. I would have full batteries before lunch. This made me happy. On a planned voyage of 27 days even three or four can make a big difference. It can have rescue crews out. I do have a sat phone. I can always amend it in route if I need to. The beauty of the sea can easily make you forget there are things you need to do aboard the ship. Checking out the systems. Maintaining and checking everything. Day after day. It becomes a routine that helps pass the time. On a modern sail boat it's one thing you get a lot of, time. They can all but sail them selves and they don't need constant washing down. I take out the binoculars and look around. Off in the distance and to starboard I can see a freighter plowing it's way west. It's probably heading for china. It looks empty. I switch the radar on and take a look. Her speed is almost 35 knots. For something that big and empty time is money. They will pass within 3nm. Well in the safe range. As she gets within three miles I get a call on the radio. It's the cargo ship. Her captain asks my destination. I tell him I'm making my first crossing to Hawaii. He almost sounds jealous. We chat for a bit and wish each other a safe trip. Signing off this reminds me of how luck I am to be doing this. I still wish Joey was here with me. Then it would be perfect. The rest of the day passes without incident and all is well. I have made some good headway today. The gps is reporting almost 100 nm before bed. Salsa is out in the saloon she wont go far. I'm sure I'll find her at the foot of the bed latter. Radar set, auto pilot and running lights on. Wind holding at 5 kts. I turn out the lights and go to sleep. I awake with a start again. Salsa is not at the foot of the bed. She's probably chasing a fly. I turn over and go back to sleep. The alarm clock goes off. I stretch and sit up. I hit the head and and get dressed. I check the nav station. Wind is still holding at 5 kts. It was a good night of travel. I open the fridge and grab some grape juice. Grab an English muffin, peanut butter and jelly. I toast the muffin, dress it and eat. The sun is coming up. I need to check the weather and what not. I use the sat nav. I'm now to far out for NOAA radio. Weather looks good for the next couple of days. I shut the power down to the sat nav, radar and running lights. I check the levels. Everything is still all but full. The batteries are full, just the way I like it. I take a coat and head up. Once there I attach my life line. Watching the sun rise, it's clear and without color. I snap a picture for Joey. He would so love this. Nothing in the sky. I'm beyond the range of the seagulls. Flying rats if you ask me. Good not to have them flying about. The morning passes and the see has a little bit of chop but nothing to get worried about.

Chapter 4.

Joey.

About 12 noon I turn on the sat phone. I have a message waiting. I listen to it. It's from Joey. The first thing he says is, Don't be mad. Never a good way to start a message. I hope he didn't wreck the car. He then goes on to say he has stowed away on the boat. I put the phone down unhook my life line and jump down the transom to the saloon. I yell, Joey get you butt out here, now!! The door to the forward cabin opens and he walks out. He puts his hand up and starts talking, Before you keep yelling you need to hear me out first. I had to come and tell you. Mom is planing on handing you divorce papers when you get to Hawaii. This stops me dead in my tracks. Mom has been seeing the guy with the 75 ft. cabin cruiser. You know the blotted douche bag with the full crew! She just wants his money. She has been seeing him for almost a year now. She made me swear not to tell you. But I can't let you get to Hawaii and find out that way. I don't want to live with him. He treats me like a shitty little kid. I don't know what to say. I put my arms out and offer him a hug. He's more than willing to reciprocate. Where did you tell your mom you were going I told her I was going with a friend out back packing. That's how I could get clothes and food for the trip. She won't know I missing until I don't come home in a two more days. I had to hand it to him it was a good plan. Still I should be mad at him but I just can't, not after hearing what he had to say. I ask him to come up to the helm with me. We climb up. The sun is shining down hard. Good thing I have a full Bimini wit solar panels. We sit. Joey talks first, Mom has been lying to you for to long. I can't take it anymore. I love you dad. You have always been straight with me. I love mom but it's hard to lie for her. In two more days we should be far enough out at sea she won't be able to twist Don's arm to come after us. If you don't call and rat me out. Joey I should but.. I'm not going to. Not in light of what you have told me. What I will do is make a call to the Ben the harbor master. He and I have been friends for a three years now. He'll tell me straight if you mom has been seeing some one or not. I will have to call and update my float plan. Float plan updated, now to call Ben and ask him what's going on. The call was a short one. Ben with a heavy heart confirmed what Joey had said. He apologized over and over. I hung up and turned to Joey, and with a forced smile asked, So what did you bring to eat. we both headed down below. He showed me what he had stashed in the back pack. He managed to get almost a months worth of food in there. Not to mention two more changes of clothes. I glad I put the washer dryer on board. Of course he had a locker on board with a lot more. He also pulled out another satellite phone. He said mom made me take it. He had pulled the battery and sim card out of it just in case. I looked him and said just because he was a stow a way. Did not mean I was not going to put him to work. Together we worked out a watch and sleep rotation there was lots of over lap. We could spend time together doing nothing but fishing and hanging out. Watching the sea and the wind. Salsa was more than happy to see him. She could sleep on my bed and then go and sleep on Joey's. She just might sleep the entire trip! Joey was right about getting a little further from land. When his mom calls, and she will we will have a lot to talk about. I would rather do it face to face but I won't giver her the satisfaction of handing me the divorce papers in Hawaii right after our first crossing.

Chapter 5.

The Call.

Joey and I have been at sail 4 days now. One day longer than he thought it would take form his mom to realize he was not coming home from the backpacking trip. After breakfast I gave him the look that said we need to initiates this call before she has the forest service on a state wide search and rescue mission. Although the thought of her explaining, and more to the point having to write a huge check so she could avoid going to jail was more than amusing. I would just hope the money she would have to spend would not be mine. I decided to use the sat nav com. I would transfer most of the money out of the account. She would have to talk to the douche bag and ask him for the money. I told Joey what I was planing on doing. He must have laughed for 15 minutes. With money transfered out. I said it was time to make the call. He agreed. He said we should use the phone she was paying for. It would be poetic justice. I had to agree. He wanted to make the call so he could hand me the phone. Yeah I know what we are doing is less than honorable or even right. However in light of where we were and what she was planing to do it was fitting. Joey made the call with a grin on his face that went from ear to ear. After a moment he got a disheartened look on his face and said, It's going to voice mail. Oh well she can call back and we can give she the news. He hangs up. He then asks if he could check our progress on the plotter. I said sure. We checked it a few time a day. With being this far from land it was good to have up to the minute idea on where you were. We were just over 600 hundred miles out. Not long and we would be half way there. The whether was still holding, not a cloud in the sky and wind to take us where we wanted to go. The day time temperatures were starting to warm up. Joey dropped a line over the stern and tried his hand at catching dinner. I almost hate to say this but he's better at fishing than I ever was. Before to long he has something on the line. As he reels it in the line became suddenly tight and snapped. I look at him, Must have been a big one! We both started to laugh. As we laughed a pod of whales spouted off the starboard side, Oh shit! you really did get a big one!! Despite the joke we marveled at the grace and beauty of such magnificent creatures. Joey put his arm around me, Dad I'm not sorry I stowed away. I just hold him. I hope his mom doesn't try for full custody. I would hate to loose my first-mate! I take a seat at the helm and clicked of the auto pilot. Joey sat and stretched. You know Joey at the divorce hearing the judge will ask you who you would rather live with. Your almost 16, you will have a say in it. I'm not asking you to pick me. I just want you to be ready. Thanks dad, I love you and mom, but I don't like the douche mom is leaving you for. I don't want to go with her. I know she is going to move right in with him. She told me that what she wants. I have to stop and think about what he said. You mean to tell me you knew and didn't say anything to me until now. I was far more hurt and angry. Mom told me if I said anything she would make sure you never got to see me again. It was his turn to be hurt. Oh Joey you should know better than that. When you're 18 you can do whatever you want! Your mom, me, no one can stop you from seeing whoever you want. Joey looked relieved and shook his head. You know I never thought about it like that. I feel kind of dumb for not figuring that one out. It's okay. You mom was betting on the fact you would listen and trust her. Hell I should have known what she was doing. I just didn't want to see it. I still love your mom and you know I love you! We talked about it for most of the rest of the day. The satellite phone had not rang all day. I told Joey we could call again after dinner. Another day of sun and a good wind. We had not seen another vessel for days now. This was strange. We were on course according to the gps and the gps in our sat phones, nav station and tablet computer with gps maps. This was odd. After dinner we made another call. Again we got the voice mail. I was not having a good feeling about this. I told myself she found out and was planing on something. I wasn't sure what that could be. Guess we would find out. I took the first watch and let Joey get some sleep. After he went to bed I took out my phone and made a call. I called one of the people that had taught me about navigation, Lynn. He had been a navigator in the navy. I placed the call. I got the voice mail. He must have gone to work. He does work at night. We were in the shipping lane and no sight of a ship in days. I went below and grabbed a cup of hot tea. I get on the sat nav and went for the internet. I pulled up a news site. It said that there has been a global terrorist attack. Someone has released something into the water supply. It's caused a widespread viral out break of some kind. People are being asked to stay at home and boil any water they have. So far there has been over a million reported cases in just three days. It starts with flu like symptoms. The death toll has been steadily growing. I called to Joey he needed to know about this. I also wanted to ask him how he felt. He and Salsa came out of the forward cabin. Whats wrong. I just got to sleep, I tell him about the terrorist attack. He crowed the nav station so he could read the screen as well. This is not good dad. You feel okay? I feel great, I told him and than asked him the same question. We both felt fine. Salsa sat and started to clean her self. I said our water supply was fine. I had installed an ultraviolet and ozone system to clean up the water in our fresh water holding tank. Keeping 200 gallons tasting fresh was not an easy thing in the tropics. Now I was really glad I spent the money on that thing. We both took out our phones and started calling friends. The information was bad. I talked to Ben the harbor master he tells me that all shipping traffic has been halted and the harbor is closed. I ask him what I should do. In two days we should almost be at the half way point. He asks how much food and water I have on board. I tell him, food 60 days, water should not be a problem I have both a RO desalination and a big rain catch. He tells me he's glad to hear it. They are starting to take anyone who is sick to military bases for quarantine and treatment. I see a lot of people leave and so far not one has come back. He tells me that douche bag Don was taken away to one of the camps. He doesn't know about Jacky. I give him the sat phone number and ask him to try and find out anything anything he could. With that I hung up. Joey we need to make a decision. Should we head back now or keep going on to Hawaii? I reminded him we would be going against the ocean current it would be at least 5-6 days even if we ran the fuel tank dry. He gave the question some real thought. We have the phones. We have lots of calls out for information. Dad, how much food do we have? I though about what he was asking. We have 60 days at 2 meals a day. More if we ration and fish a lot more. For water I have a water-maker and a large rain catch with a filter before it gets to the holding tank. I started to dial the phone again. Joey asked who I was calling this time. I told him the harbor master in the port we were heading for in Hawaii. I wanted to get information for our port of arrival. On the Hawaii end of the trip I could get know answer. I called the coast guard. The info from them was not what I had hoped for. The news from Hawaii was this. Infection level now stands at 70% and it's spreading fast. The worst news is that those infected are biting and sometimes eating those not infected. If I didn't know better I would call this a zombie apocalypses. It was time to make some very hard decisions. I put the phone down and asked Joey to join me up top.

Joey heres the deal. The out break of whatever this is, well it's bad. Hawaii is not good. We can only assume that back home is just as bad if not worse. We have enough supplies to last at least 2 months. I wont lie to you. This is really bad. I think we should get on the phones and try and find a safe place to put in and find out just how bad and how wide spreed this is. We know we're safe on the boat for now. The only thing we have to worry about is food. And we have enough for now. We're almost half way now. I think we should keep going as planed. By the time we get there things should have settled down. I don't want to make this decision with out you. I want to know what you think Joey gave it some thought before speaking up. I want to talk to mom, if we can. She may be a bitch for leaving you, but she is my mom. At this point it could take us 10 days just to get back. For now if you want, we should drop all sail and just toss out a sea anchor. To help hold position. If we can reach you mom we can turn around and try and get to her. If we can't get a hold of her... I trailed off. I didn't want to think of the possibility. Joey agrees with me. We feruled the sails and put out a sea anchor. We both got on our phones and called anyone we knew. We needed to have someone, anyone to try and find Jacky. I could only find one person that was even home. Her sister Janet. She was none to happy I called. She and I never really got along. She understood my need and for once she said she was glad I had Joey with me on board. She told me fires had been starting all over town. The fire department was letting everything but hospital and police stations burn. There was nothing they could do. The water was not running anymore for fear of contamination. Bottled water was being trucked in, when it could get in. Riots started followed by the infected. The military is now shotting anyone out on the street after curfew.

The infected are everywhere! She said. She told me to keep the boat out of any port. She did not know how long she was going able to talk. The power is shutting down from the fires... As she said those words the phone went dead on her end. A cold piercing fear stabbed through me like a medieval long sword. Joey, you get anywhere? He looks at me with fear and despair. He shakes his head no, The phone went dead. He came and gave me a hug. Dad what's happening out there? I'm scared to death. I feel safe here on the boat with you. But all my friends... he didn't have to finish. I knew what we was feeling. I felt it too. I give him all the comfort I can. Joey whatever is happening out there. We have been spared. I'll bet there are other people just like you and I. Let's see if we can raise any on the marine radio. I grabbed the mike and made a call. On some of the open channels. Not getting a response I switched to the emergence channels. When I hit the channel I could here a chatter of calls. Joey can here then as well. I looked at him with hope, You hear that? We're not alone! Maybe we can get some info! I keyed the mic and made a call. A voice came on much louder and clearer than the rest. It was the US Navy. The voice was making a general call. It was telling us to not attempt to reach any landfall. The voice also asked for gps location. I clicked on our radar. It would squawk our CA. Number. The voice then called directly to us. He said we were closest to his ship and he would be sending a rib our way. I acknowledged and said we have dropped sail awaiting his arrival. With in an two hours we say the outline of a big freighter. He launched a motor boat and came along side. One of the men on board made a request if he could come aboard. I called back to him, Granted. Welcome aboard the Celtic Mistress. I put my hand out and gave him my name. He took off his cap and tucked it under his arm. I asked if I could get him anything, coffee, tea. This was just maritime politeness. But I meant it anyway. He said thank you no. I motioned for him to sit. As he did he began to give me the information Joey and I need to here. He started with we were not under any quarantine. However all ports of call have been closed. For all intent and purpose we are now on our own until further notice. Every question joey and I asked he answered to the best of his ability. An hour had past. He asked us how we were for food and water? He asked to see our store's I complied, He was glad to see we had enough for a two months. Back on deck he called to one skiff. Another sailor started to hand over boxes of meals ready to eat, or MRE's as we know them. He said we would have to stay out of at least 5 months. He stated he was under orders not to come back to port until further notice. He was just as stranded as we were. That was his best and only advice. He said we should head to Hawaii. The increased rain fall, with my rain catcher up it would keep our fresh water tanks up. We have electrical power from wind and solar. Diesel as backup. Sail to take us where we wanted to go. Before the officer left, he told us to keep the radio on channel 16 at all times. If we needed anything the Navy would be there to help. He left and motored off. Joey and I looked at each other. I said the decision has been made for us.

We have the sat phones and the radio. The sat nav to give our position and email. We set sail for Hawaii. Not knowing what we would find when we got there. We would have to stay far enough off shore to be safe from what we still don't understand. Salsa kept us company as always. In a way she was our only link to feeling normal again. The world was crumbling around us. Thank God we have each other. The rest of the trip was a quiet one. The radio chattered from time to time. The reports from the navy were not good. The marine radio is our best source on news and information now. The Navy kept anyone with a marine radio, anyone with a boat that is up to date with reports once a day. The news was not good. They revealed what we were dealing with was a weaponized rabies virus. It drove the victims mad. It gave the appearance of a zombie apocalypse, and maybe it was. People infected biting and spreading the virus. It got into the water systems of the world from a doomsday cult. One with enough money to release it all over the world at the same time. The industrial countries were hit first. Retribution for the world wide corporation take over. People were dropping like flies. The only good news, if you can call it that is within three months it would have run it's course. The down side to that is well over half of the worlds population of the world was going to die. The weeks passed well for Joey and I. We sat and fished for days on end. We decided to not get there as fast as we could. We still had no word from the mainland about Jacky. We kept the sea anchor deployed. Our headway was only about 30nm a day. We have food, water and nothing but time. The solar wind generators kept us in more than enough power. We had drifted along for over a month now. 49 days to be exact. The navy checked on us from time to time giving us more food. Salsa even started to come up on deck with us. She didn't like the water all around, but she sure loved the fresh fish we caught. On day 50 I asked Joey if we should set full sail. With thought and trepidation he said Yeah. We were only about 4 good days from Hawaii now. We had to head there with caution. Early on day 4 we could now see the outline of Hawaiian mountains. As we got closer we were greeted by the Navy as we approached. We were told to drop anchor 10 miles out. We were not alone here. There were hundreds of boats anchored all over. We were now in a huge flotilla parking lot of people. As we dropped anchor we could see a zodiac coming up to our stern.

A voice called out. It was one Joey and I would know anywhere. It was Jacky! We both scrambled to see and great her. We asked how she got here. She said when the shit started to hit the fan she took Don's boat. Only one of the crew made it. But it was enough to get here. I asked her if she wanted to serve me with the divorce papers now. She said she had time to think on the trip over. She realized a lot of things about me and herself. Jacky said she didn't know if we could ever be what we were. I understood that. She said she was so glad Joey was my son. The son of a real sailor. It was the love of the ocean and me that saved him. I said she had it wrong. Joey saved me. If I had to go through by myself I don't know if I would have made it. She said she could move her boat and anchor it next to ours. Both Joey and I thought that would be a good idea. We could try and put the family back together. We had nothing but time to work on things. At least we could do it all together.

We have no idea what kind of world will come out of this global catastrophe. I can only hope the lessons of the past will not be soon forgotten. Whatever kind of authority will inevitably rise from these ashes will be anyones guess. One thing is for sure.  Joey and I are never giving up this sailboat!