Day 21: Anxious But Happy Shellbacks

[This was originally published to our subscribers during our passage from San Diego to the Marquesas.]

We crossed the equator! I saw the southern cross for the first time! These are incredible, amazing, joyful milestones—and yet I’m a bundle of nerves.

I had forgotten that this is the point in a passage when things fatigue to exhaustion. We have been beating into the wind ever since we exited the ITCZ, and all of us can feel it. Windfola’s wooden interior is swollen with the humidity and creaking horribly as her hull bashes into the swell. Zia is so tired of our life at 20°, heeled to starboard, that she pooped in our bed in her sleep last night. 💩 The starboard side has a leak into the shower pan floor of the head so I have to manually run the sump pump there every two hours all night. The GPS chart plotter has gone on strike and shuts itself down throughout the night, disabling all my alarms for ships and objects. The strap that holds my life raft on the boat wore through and I just barely caught it in time. The e-mail app I use to check my Gmail won’t send or receive e-mails anymore, so I also can't share pictures with you now. Every sound the boat makes feeds my anxiety that she’s going to fall apart at the seams any second.

But, incredibly, I feel stronger than ever! My soul is renewed and my heart is full. As I crossed the equator I thanked Mother Ocean for giving us so much joy, teaching us, and delivering us safely. I hauled up buckets of her beautiful, warm water and drenched myself in it, happily licking the salt off of my lips. I thanked Windfola for being her vessel, and I thanked Zia for being our companion.

And then I put on my Rum Fairy outfit, crawled to the bow, and poured one out for my homegirl. 🥃🌊

There was a dance party in the cockpit that culminated in me singing Southern Cross at the top of my lungs. A tub of frosting with rainbow sprinkles was eaten with a spoon (I forgot to buy something to put it on) and Zia got a can of tuna juice. We are all still smiling.

But ahead of us lies one more challenge. You might have noticed that I haven’t been sailing a direct course to Hiva Oa, and the route I’ve chosen has added at least a day to our passage. That’s because I wanted to put us at a better angle for what’s coming.

A very strong cycle of tradewinds is building, and with it is a pattern of 3+ meter swell with a short period of seven seconds. Our longitude exiting the ITCZ, coupled with the angle of these tradewinds, meant that if we sailed directly to our destination the wind and swell would be right on the beam or slightly forward of it. This position would be uncomfortable and worrisome in the short, steep waves that are coming, so we sailed south for the last few days. As the seas and winds build tomorrow, I will fall off to the southwest on our heading to Hiva Oa, putting the wind and swell slightly behind us for the final leg of our journey.

It will still be a stressful and bumpy ride, but we only have about four and a half days to go. Now is the time to hang in there and nerves are just part of the package. Part of the glorious, beautiful, awesome package.

delighted and determined,

elana, zia, and SV Windfola 💪

P. S. More of our playlist from the sea!

  • Thelonius Monk, Bluehawk (swing/blues/jazz piano)

  • Calexico; Hush (bordertown indie folk rock)

  • Gemini Rising, Fiora, & Tensnake; Best Case Life (80s-inspired modern indie)

  • Junip; Don’t Let it Pass (indie euro folk rock)

  • CSNY; Wooden Ships (classic folk rock)

  • Emiliana Torrini, Sunny Road (indie girl with guitar folk)

  • Jose Gonzales; Every Age and Open Book (indie guy with guitar folk)

  • Sugarloaf; Green-Eyed Lady (classic rock)

  • People Under The Stairs, Montego Slay (underground/classic-style melodic hip hop)

  • Blues Image; Ride Captain Ride (classic rock)

  • Collective Efforts; Tunnel Vision (underground/classic-style melodic hip hop)

  • CSNY; Guinevere (folk)

  • Kate Bush; This Woman’s Work & Running up the Hill (women’s)

  • Ibeyi; Rise Up Wise Up Eyes Up (Afro-Caribbean/French inspired modern soul)

  • Yes; Owner of a Lonely Heart (80s)

  • Nina Simone; Wild is the Wind (jazz)

  • Bibio; Saint Thomas, You Won’t Remember, & A Mineral Love (chill indie folk electro-groove singer/songwriter)

  • Joni Mitchell, A Case of You (folk)

  • Rationale; Prodigal Son (indie African-inspired singer-songwriter)

  • Procol Harem; A Salty Dog (classic rock)

  • Curtis Mayfield; Move On Up (soul/funk/brass)

  • Stevie Wonder, Uptight (Everything’s Alright) 

  • Vetiver; Current Carry (indie modern chill surf-folk-rock)

  • Iron & Wine; Joy & Fever Dream (modern indie folk)

  • Andrew Bird; Truth Lies Low & Far From Any Road Be My Hand (indie folk/strings jazz)

  • Beth Orton, State of Grace (singer/songwriter modern folk)

  • Aqualung; Magnetic North (indie rock)

  • Noname; Diddy Bop (indie female r&b/melodic rap)

  • Brandi Carlile; The Eye (bluegrass/country folk)

  • Phosphorescent; Song For Zula (mellow indie rock)

  • Vetiver; The Swimming Song (cover of another folk artist)

  • Jim James; The World’s Smiling Now (mellow soul)

  • Sam Padrul; Why Do I Do? - Matanoll Remix (modern soul funk pop)

  • Kat Edmonson; What Else Can I Do? (solo female latin jazz)

  • Escort; My Life (modern soul funk pop)