From Sylvia Stewart Stompe, Call of the Sea.
We had a lot of trepidation about crossing the doldrums on the way to the Marquesas from Mexico in 2015, wondering how long the calms would last and if we would be plagued by the violent squalls and lightning storms that we heard about from other sailboats’ crews on the evening SSB net.
When my husband Barry and I sailed into the ITCZ, Intertropical Convergence Zone, as the doldrums are officially known, we instead encountered a peaceful and wondrous sky and seascape of constantly varying clouds, undulating mirror-like seas reflecting the clouds and so much marine life. There is always something to see out on the ocean! While we had a couple mild squalls with rain, we welcomed them for their cooling effect, cleaning our decks and replenishing our fresh water stores.
The doldrums were a time out, from actively sailing, and from thinking we could control the duration of the passage. It was a time to make the best of it, not knowing how long it would last. It gave us an opportunity to catch up on tasks that are hard to do when the boat is moving with the wind, waves and swell. We could also just relax, indulge in reading, naps and other pleasures that one has less time for during most passage making. Those 3 days in the doldrums are some of the most memorable and treasured of our 2 year voyage around the Pacific.
This tragic Pandemic reminds me of the doldrums in that as we shelter and isolate we must just wait; we personally have no control over the duration of the crisis other than following the public health directives for the sake of our community and our own safety. It is a time of trepidation, but worse, also fear and grief. Can we also find beauty and joy while enduring this Pandemic? Like the daily SSB radio nets with the other sailors making passage, many of us are enjoying Zoom family and friend gatherings. We are donating to those in need. We are doing projects around our houses and gardens that we have been meaning to get to for years and doing art projects and crafts like sewing face masks! We are noticing the birds and animals around us, clearer skies and fewer planes. I hope the Coronavirus crisis passes soon and we can all get back to what we are meant to be doing. I also hope that some of the positive things remain after the Pandemic is gone.
Doldrum scene from the deck of Iolani