Writing at Sea – Sailing North Northwest through the Bahamas
We left Matthew Town on Great Inagua this morning, had breckie underway. Assorted cereals, granola, almond milk, fruit and yogurt were consumed as a fresh Easterly breeze had us headed North Northwest, our mast tilted West while we reached.
Meg has been catching up on her reading on deck, the rest of the crew hard at work. She’ll write a book someday with all the practice listening to the visiting crew. Melanie cooked a fantastic Indian meal last night but has been down resting today.
Today’s writing assignment was to write a eulogy for an extinct species—but first the answer list of authors for yesterday’s haikus: Number one was Eric’s, two was Shanley’s, three Steven’s, four Ally’s, five Elizabeth’s, six Meg’s, seven Melanie’s.
Now for the eulogy exercise: I’m working on a novel written with absurd elements–a mix of various radio broadcasts, and telemarketing calls provide a background theme. This entry, inspired by Eric’s description of Kate’s customer service phone prowess, and Elizabeth’s desire to see dolphins while sailing.
“Dolphin hotline. We offer dolphin sightings while on your yacht. Please listen to the whole menu before selecting, as our options may have changed.
“For dolphins off your port bow, press one. For dolphins to starboard, press two. For dolphins aft, press three. For dolphins above, press four.
“You pressed four. Do you want flying dolphins? Press one. You pressed one. Flying dolphins have not evolved yet—but we may have a future species with that capacity. Would you consider a Flamingo instead? Press one for yes, two for no. You pressed one—you are now exiting 1-800-DOLPHIN.com. We are redirecting your call to Flamingo HQ. Thank you for your interest in dolphins. We hope we have been of service. Please stay on the line. BUZZZXXXCCCHHHH.”
“This is the endangered Caribbean species hotline, Claire speaking—how may I direct your call?”
“Claire, I’ve been four days at sea and haven’t seen a dolphin yet, and only one lone Flamingo in a itty-bitty flock. Is there anything you’d like to tell me about the state of the Caribbean?”
“Well, first off it’s not a steady state. Or, it’s in process, we have our sea, and we have our land. The skyway seems to be okay.”
“No wonder in the sky?”
“Well yeah, Ramanamaharshi, has discovered yachting and its spiritual principles—but we really want the animals to win the next round.”
“So you are a fan of the Flamingo with its pink and black feathers, stunning long neck and legs, feathery back—hooked beak and awkward whimsy.”
“I’d rather go overnight without a sleeping pill, without a cat to cuddle with, for the sake of the sea and giant Flamingo.”
“But, all you can do with Flamingos is watch them.”
“Yes, but we can watch them.”
“What is the use of that, Claire?”
“Sir, formally, we do counts, but mostly driving around looking at birds and wild animals—donkeys, monkeys, lizards, snakes, plover, willets, and killdeer all make my day better. Do you know we had to kill two hummingbirds just to check their DNA?”
“Why did you kill them?”
“To check if they were a new species. They weren’t in our bird guide.”
“We are one hundred percent sure we have never killed those two hummingbirds before.”
At tonight’s workshop Elizabeth read a eulogy to the Caribbean monk seal, then tore the pages from her notebook, folded them and tossed them to the sea.
As night falls and the moon rises we are at sea in good hands. Elizabeth made a wonderful dinner, and we are all looking toward continued fair winds.
– Steven Lansky, Writing at Sea, April 8, 2015