A Battle

Yesterday…

Ψ 

I battled a monster at sea…

the wind roared…

the rain poured…

the waves pounded my little She…

Ψ 

The morning started different…

mellow…

the day ended the same…

mellow…yet…the day was opposing…

 Ψ

My battle ended as the night came…

tired, I ate and prepared to sleep…

upon my rest today…

sailing under a light wind as I dreamed…

 Ψ

I realize the battle of yesterday…

was a battle with me.

June 13, 2011…somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean

The Meaning of the poem:

“…day Three to the East…” (a chapter from Part II: The Battle)

by Greg Frucci

…day Three to the East…

from:

Part II: The Battle

“Path of Three Hundred”

Ψ

On the morning of the third day at sea, Petah awoke to a light rain with winds not uncomfortable. The simple sailor knew the day would be a challenge of sorts. What he did not know was the same thing his support team did not realize back in Masonboro…a violent storm was spinning up into something unforeseen ahead of him and he was about to sail into the storm’s center. As he had done the two nights before, Petah slept beside the wheel of his vessel in the cockpit while the autopilot was steering towards his destination. Even though the month of June in these latitudes was a hot one, the nights on the open ocean were chilly. This morning, the cold rain and winds woke him shivering even with the coat he wore during the night.

“This isn’t so bad…its just like Captain Secumptual said last night over the satellite phone…a little bit of rain with winds in the 20 knot range…I can easily handle this.”, Petah said out loud to himself.

Petah noticed he was starting to talk to himself frequently now. The days before, he mostly processed thought in his mind like most of us…now he was speaking with no one around. He began to laugh at himself hysterically.

“Well, I guess I have nobody to talk to except you Sailor Boy.”, looking into the direction of an imaginary crew member.

Petah spun around three hundred and sixty degrees, looking back toward an imaginary Self, “Your boat’s not made for this you idiot! You are stupid Petah!”

Petah began laughing even harder upon speaking the words. As the crazed sailor danced around the cockpit with the autopilot still engaged, a cresting wave crashed over the bow of the Little She soaking Petah. He stood for a moment in shock while attempting to gather his wits, then quickly scanned all directions around him to finally see the ocean becoming more intense. The rain was coming down harder now and the swells were getting larger seeming every moment. Petah furled in the storm jib to just a quarter of the sail out just as Secumptual had advised him to do in this situation. He already had two reefs in the main, but he felt the winds getting stronger by the second. Instead of lowering the mainsail while he had the chance, Petah lost his nerve for a moment deciding to call his team back in Masonboro on the satellite phone.

“Captain! Can you hear me?”, begged Petah.

He knew they picked up because he could barely hear someone on the other end talking, but he could not understand what they were saying.

“I can’t hear you…I can’t understand you! This feels a lot more intense than what we talked about last night…what should I do?”

Garbled transmission, yet he was still connected to someone.

He had called his mentor, Captain Secumptual. He could hear Petah and could feel the stressful fear in his voice far out to sea. Harker Lynn, the Dockmaster was there too as they both had been trying to contact Petah most of the night when it became clear the earlier weather forecasts had changed into a tightly formed Gale Storm. Petah’s friends back home were tracking the Little She as she was sailing dead center into the developing storm. The villagers and supporters could do nothing but watch what happened. Secumptual was yelling into the phone.

“Drop your sails, turn northeast and run the diesel for a few hours! You are sailing into the middle of a gale! Do you understand, Petah? You can miss the worst part of the storm if you turn the boat!”.

Secumptual and Harker could hear loud noises similar to what high winds create…moments later…nothing but silence. The satellite phone went dead, followed by heavy cursing from all around the Dockmaster’s office.

Petah heard nothing of what was being screamed at him over the phone, so he turned it off. He looked up into the thick clouds with pounding rain pouring onto his face and understanding why…satellite phones do not work very good unless the sky is clear.

“Improvise, adapt and overcome…stop being a weakling!”, Petah screamed the words of his Father into the wind-driven rain.

Placing the satellite phone away, the now calm sailor moved to drop the sails. He knew he would not be able to go forward and lash the dropped sail to the boom because the cresting seas were about ten feet now with some waves crashing over the bow, so he released the main halyard and let it drop freely. Only because the sailboat was pointed into the wind, the sail dropped neatly off to the side and nestled between the raised portion of the cabin and the safety lines. Petah hoped the sail would stay there as he powered through what he thought would be just a bad portion of the storm…but this was just the beginning. The battle with the sea this day would last another eighteen hours and into the night.

Ψ

There exists nothing…

save, for this moment in Time…

Seeing only what is before me now…I go…

Present, is where I Am.

Ψ

Allende Tennessee walked into the Dockmaster’s office just as the attempt to contact Petah had ended in frustration. He saw the boats position and direction with the storm overlay illustrating a potential disaster within a few hours. Allende felt the intensity of his friend three hundred miles to the east…far offshore in the open ocean. Allende remembered his words to Petah as he sailed away from Masonboro a few mornings ago, “Be strong and stay alive, my Brother…you know I have your back.” Many people said these things to Petah over the years, but only a few humans such as the villagers of Masonboro and a select few friends such as Allende would actually put into action their words spoken. Allende didn’t hesitate for a moment, pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and dialed a number.

“Master Chief…a buddy of mine could use your help…do you have any ships between the coast of North Carolina and Bermuda?”, spoke Allende with the calm of a combat veteran.

“No Al, but I do have a C-130 on a training flight out of Elizabeth City to Bermuda…what’s your buddy’s position? I’ll have them divert and check him out.”

“Thanks Chief…I owe ya one. His vessel, a thirty foot single mast sailboat, is the Little She…the Skipper’s name is Petah.”

“Copy that. I’ll call you with an update as soon as we make contact with the Little She.”, the Master Chief paused for a moment and continued, “And you don’t owe me squat, Sergeant…except mabe some booze.”

The Atlantic Ocean had an eerie feel about it in Petah’s mind. The sailor had never in his life seen anything like this. For the past four hours, after the attempted conversation with his friends back in Masonboro, the seas had grown into violence. Petah attempted once to take his hands off the wheel to grab a can of Ravioli just a few feet away in a side pocket of the cockpit, but when he let go as the Little She climbed up the face of a twenty-foot wave, the boat veered off course, was hit by the breaking crest sideways and almost capsized. He didn’t let go again for several hours…even when he had to relieve himself…he just stood there steering the boat with no water and no food.

Petah said nothing except and occasional, “Shit!”, as the Little She and he would fall off the top of a huge wave into the trough below between swells…all the while, horizontal rain in his face. Petah was soaking wet and would stay that way for hours. He was freezing, hungry and tired, but he remained focused on his goal…making it to the other side of the storm alive. As he looked beyond his vessel, he saw the white water cresting of waves and the pounding rain similar to heavy thunderstorm rain hitting the surface of the water. Even with the forty knot plus winds, the sea had a slickness to its surface because of the heavy rain.

For several hours, the Little She headed into the wind and on-coming waves. Petah could not see anything beyond twenty feet or so in any direction due to the heavy rain. He felt blind. The boat would climb up the now twenty-two foot waves and become airborne as it crashed down the other side of these fast-moving waves. As the boat slammed down into the trough on the other side of the wave he climbed, the boat would vibrate with such force, Petah could feel the violence in his bones ending with the mast still vibrating as he began the climb to the top of the next wave. Petah began to wonder if he should turn his boat around and “run with the storm”.

“This is just a bad part of the storm…if I keep going forward to Bermuda, I will make it through to the other side of this small section…it must end soon!”, Petah said to himself.

The rain stopped suddenly. The wind lessened as the rain disappeared. The waves were still in the twenty-foot range, but the tired sailor felt his hands ease from the strong grasp he had on the helm. He focused on the distant rain wall in front of him…it was almost black. The time of day was almost noon. Petah looked in all directions around him…three hundred and sixty degrees and all he could see in the distance was a black rain wall.

Ψ

Certain times in Our lives…

an Angel will appear…

from out of seemingly nowhere and out of a place unknown…there…

we See our salvation.

Ψ

“Sailing Vessel Little She, Sailing Vessel Little She, this is Coast Guard C206, do you read me? Over.”, came a call over the VHF radio from inside the cabin of Petah’s vessel.

“What?”, Petah whispered silently to himself.

Petah looked up and saw a United States Coast Guard, Hercules C-130 aircraft heading straight for the Little She about two hundred feet above the surface of the violent Atlantic Ocean. He began to cry for a moment. To Petah, it was like seeing an Angel. Within the bizarreness of what was unknown to Petah, he saw something beautiful and it touched his Soul. He regained his composure quickly, picked up the hand-held VHF radio attached to the helm, turned it on and responded.

“Coast Guard C206, this is Sailing Vessel Little She…I read you loud and clear.”, stated Petah with the fake calmness he struggled to muster while looking skyward.

“Sailing Vessel Little She, this is Coast Guard C206…are you in distress…do you have engine power…do you need our assistance? Over.”

“Coast Guard C206, this is Sailing Vessel Little She, I have engine power, I am OK and I am considering turning around one hundred eighty degrees and running with the storm.”

“Sailing Vessel Little She, that would be a very wise decision, Sir. The storm is worse on the other side of the eye. Do you have an EPIRB on board? Over.”

At this point, Petah realized he had sailed into the eye of a very nasty tropical system. He was scared before and now he was terrified, yet he maintained his composure.

“Coast Guard C206, I am going to turn the boat around when I climb the next wave…and yes, I have an EPIRB on board and I know exactly where it is. Over.”

“Copy that, Skipper…we will stay on station with you…radio us after the maneuver. Coast Guard C206, out.”

Petah stopped following the circling aircraft with his eyes, put the radio back in its holster on the helm, grabbed the helm with both hands and let out a big sigh. This was a time to focus all of his energy to Self. Time seemed to stop as he remembered the words of Secumptual, “You’re a surfer, Petah…if you ever have to run with a storm…surf your boat down the face of a big wave as you would a surfboard…drop in, turn and go…it’s the same.” Petah was about to do something he had never done before. He was in the middle of a situation unlike anything he had ever experienced…everything was new, very real and it was all happening whether he wanted it to or not.

The Little She began to rise up an on-coming wave of twenty feet. With the bow pointed towards the sky, Petah could see the white and orange-colored C-130 flying low in front of him, yet his focus was on timing the turn of his boat at the top of the wave he was now on. As he had done many times before on the surfboards of his past, Petah felt his vessel of the Present begin to level off on the top of this wave. Without hesitation and with complete determination in his core, Petah turned the wheel as fast as he could to starboard. The Little She responded with grace as she turned quickly and began to descend down the face of the same wave. Petah brought the wheel back to center, felt the boat begin to gain speed straight down the wave and gave the wheel a little more to the starboard. He was surfing now at a slight angle down the wave. His comfort level with where he was in Time, began to rise. As the Little She approached the bottom of the wave into the trough, Petah felt the vibration of a boat which was now moving faster than it was designed to go. In the trough now, Petah straightened out the Little She, looked behind him and waited for the next wave to lift him skyward where he would repeat this process.

“Sailing Vessel Little She…nice manuver, Skipper. Over.”

Petah grabbed the handheld, “Coast Guard c-206…there’s a first time for everything, I suppose. I’m going to throw out a drogue to slow the boat…I just did twelve point four knots down that wave and my hull speed is only 10.”

“Sailing Vessel Little She…another wise decision, Sir…do you have access to weather information? Over.”

“Coast Guard c-206…negative, Sir…can you advise? Over.”

“Sailing Vessel Little She…we will fly around you for the next twenty minutes or so and we will be able to advise you on a heading in about fifteen minutes…keep your radio on…do you copy? Over.”

“Coast Guard C-206…thank you, Sir and I copy…Sailing Vessel Little She out.”

While an on-coming wave lifted his boat, Petah rigged a drogue using a five gallon Orange Box bucket with a line attached to one of the Little She’s stern cleats and tossed it overboard. The drogue snapped off within five minutes.

“Shit…that’s not good.”, mumbled Petah.

Over the next fifteen minutes while the Coast Guard aircraft circled over the Little She, Petah began to feel what Secumptual had told him to do…surf. He was standing with his right foot forward of his left foot while steering his vessel, just like the goofy-foot surfer he always had been. The horror of the beginning part of the day was becoming something powerful in his Soul. As his boat ascended each and every wave, he would look behind the Little She to see what the next wave would be like…they all seemed a little different and he would make tiny adjustments to the way he would surf them. The absence of the drogue mattered little to Petah now…he just changed his angle down each wave to slow the Little She as she descended. Petah was becoming Peaceful…this he knew.

“Sailing Vessel Little She, Sailing Vessel Little She…do you read me? Over.”

“Coast Guard C-206, I read you loud and clear. Over.”

“Skipper, keep your current heading until approximately mid-night tonight, by then the bad part of this system will have passed you by. The winds will decrease as will the swells. You will then be able to turn back around and continue on to Bermuda. Do you understand? Over.”

Petah’s excitement about his new-found Strength began to diminish as he realized he would be loosing so much of the distance to Bermuda already covered. In Petah’ mind, he was thinking the crossing from Masonboro would only take six days…now it would be at least seven.

“I understand Coast Guard C-206. Thank you for everything you have done…all of you. Should I return to the United States…or…how does the weather look for the rest of the way to Bermuda? Over.”

“The weather forecast is better on the way to Bermuda…you should have good sailing the rest of your trip once this system passes, Skipper. Over.”

“Bermuda it shall be. Over.”

“Sailing Vessel Little She…hit the EPIRB if you need us. Good luck on your journey. We are departing your area now. Coast Guard C-206 over and out.”

Petah watched the huge aircraft turn and head east. As it disappeared into the clouds, he felt the intensity of being alone at sea now more than ever. Petah knew he had conquered something today…actually many things…the biggest of which he would not realize until the next day. The tired sailor kept a heading west back the way he came as the Coast Guard suggested until mid-night all the way back to seventy-two degrees longitude losing a day and a half of distance. The seas had calmed down to about eight feet with winds less than fifteen knots switching to a direction good for a turn back to the east. Petah turned the boat with ease back to the direction of Bermuda. He sailed staring into the night for the next three hours as if in a daze.

Back in Masonboro, the Dockmaster’s office was overflowing with people. Allende had gotten a call from the Master Chief about Petah being OK and running with the storm, yet some of the weak ones were freaking out since they were not understanding what that meant. Allende, Harker, Secumptual, the villagers of Masonboro and a few others knew Petah would be fine regardless of the fear most were expressing.

He was exhausted and starving now. Petah engaged the autopilot, drank some water and ate two cans of cold ravioli. As he lay on the cushions of the cockpit after changing into dry clothes, he felt the wetness of the cushions creep onto the flesh of his backside. He didn’t care, he just wanted to sleep. The intensity of the day was gone now with the waves and wind dying almost as quickly as they had come up eighteen hours earlier. Petah fell asleep and dreamed.

Ψ

Follow a Way of Being…

regardless of what others say…

the Path of Peace is there…for…

I have found Home upon the Indigo Sea.

¹ “A Battle” from Inspiration From A Muse: Poems To Her

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5 Comments ↓

5 Comments on “A Battle”

  1. silviaelmwoods October 17, 2011 at 1:56 am #

    Yes…. that battle was with You…. but only with a part of you ……. the dark the untamed percentage of You struggling not to be defeated…
    Conquering of that untamed comes from Love………
    You have loads of it …… You will Conquer the untamed.
    And will finally set Yourself and your Love Free.

  2. thalia3 February 20, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

    That’s exactly right. Thanks for visiting my blog. I’m glad it led me to yours! Cheers!
    Katie

  3. Greg Frucci March 13, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    The backstory behind this poem. All of the poems in “Inspiration From A Muse: Poems To Her” will become part of the new book I am writing now, “Path of Three Hundred” which can be found at http://pathof300.com.

    peace to you,
    Greg Frucci

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Sanding away the Grey | Life seen through Poetry: Inspired by the Muse of Me - October 7, 2011

    […] A Battle (inspirationfromamuse.wordpress.com) […]

  2. “…day Three to the East…” (a chapter from Part II: The Battle) « Path of Three Hundred - March 13, 2012

    […] “A Battle” from Inspiration From A Muse: Poems To Her Help spread the words:Email Pin ItMoreDiggShare on TumblrLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

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