Red sky at morning

6 a.m.

 “Like a red morn that ever yet betokened,
Wreck to the seaman, tempest to the field,
Sorrow to the shepherds, woe unto the birds,
Gusts and foul flaws to herdsmen and to herds.”
—W. Shakespeare, from
Venus and Adonis

 Customs planes flying over the Kimberley area thought Kris was having some trouble because he wasn’t using his two main sails, just the mizzen, and there’s a low pressure in the area. The message he gave them was to “contact the sailboat’s owner and arrange to tow the sailboat back to Darwin.” I was a bit of a basket case, of course…my imagination took over and worried the hell out of me! Yesterday a plane managed to deliver a satellite phone to Kris, and they spoke to him.

He’s fine, plenty of food and water still, but with the strong winds (blowing in the wrong direction) he’s reluctant to use the boat’s sails. These have been rotting inside the boat for several years, and might blow apart.  Also, the boat is taking on a little bit of water that, so far, the bilge pumps have been taking care of. Now that the monsoons are starting up and it will be raining more often, Kris is worried that the solar panels that charge the bilge pumps will stop charging, and then the boat will start to fill up with water. On top of this, the monsoon winds, once they are established, will be against him, anyway. It’s taken him a whole week to make 100 nautical miles…a distance that, with good winds and a good boat, you’d normally do in just over a day.

My guess is that, on the whole, Kris figures the best way to avoid this whole thing ending in tragedy (i.e. loss of White Bird) is to just tow the boat home. The sailboat, White Bird, had been sitting in Bali for years—unmaintained—after its owner died there. Our local bar manager, John, purchased the boat, and Kris was asked to sail it back to Darwin because it hasn’t got an engine.

John and some other guys will be heading out there with another sailboat tomorrow (or that was the plan last I spoke to him, though he also said he’d call me this morning and hasn’t). If they do go, it will probably take three days to get there, then they have to actually find him, and another 4 days coming back.

thunderstorm at sunset

Was up at 6, and there was a vivid red sunrise quietly bleeding its way across the sky. It was so gorgeous that I fumbled for my camera just seconds after waking up, and photographed it while still half asleep. I thought of the old weather forecasting rhymes about red skies: “Red sky at morning, sailors take warning; Red sky at night, sailors delight.”  *groan* I just want him home, safe and well. But I have no say in these matters, so I try to keep my mind on other things.

working on...

I started a painting, based on a magazine pic that I have always wanted to use. Basic lines are in, but if I keep going in this way, I will end up with just a pretty picture of two pretty girls, like the magazine photo. So today’s job is to fearlessly change what I’ve done…to kill my attachment to this pretty and conventional image, and do something brave and fun to the drawing. To make this canvas my own.


14 thoughts on “Red sky at morning

  1. From what you’ve written about him before, I think Kris has the smarts and the experience to take care of himself properly and make sure he returns home safe and sound. Of course, that doesn’t ease your worry. Sending good thoughts and vibes your way.


    1. Well, yes, I think he’s pretty self-sufficient, and can look after himself, too. But I also know that he was the one who sent the message “Contact boat owner, arrange for a tow.” Kris doesn’t make decisions to ask for help lightly, as he prides himself on his ability to sail anywhere without an engine, electronics, power, any of those frills.
      I’m frustrated because I was right about “the rescue”, I saw them today, they’re hemming and hawing and dragging their feet. Basically, they’re scared of going out there, and they seem to be hoping that some miracle wind will come along and sweep Kris to Darwin so that they won’t have to go. A cyclone’s building up where he is, and the wind is all pouring down against him. He probably hasn’t slept for a few days. And there’s nothing I can do but watch the big men walk around here with grave looks on their faces, “discussing the options”. Bah, men!


  2. My family once sailed from San Diego, Ca. to Hilo, Hawaii in a 40ft. ketch. There were times when we weren’t sure we would make it, but I think sailors innately know when they reach the end of the line. We carried on after hitting a terrible storm and ended up losing our engine, generator, lights, electricity, refrigeration, etc. We reefed sails, ate canned goods and decided to continue rather than going back. We limped in without any running lights narrowly missed being run down by a Matson container ship. My parents continued to sail from Hawaii throughout the S. Pacific Island, New Zealand and Australia. They encounter some problems with storms, blew out several sets of good sails, but always made it into port. I’m sure Kris will be fine, sometimes red skies are just that…beautiful red skies.


    1. Hey, Jason, yeah, the drippy hair’s nice, no? It wasn’t intentional, for once. ;D But I mustn’t get attached, it could all go in the next stage, I reckon.
      Oh, sails aren’t made from canvas anymore, they’re dacron…awful, tough stuff, plastic-ey. I think it would be more trouble than it’s worth to recycle them as paintings. Think of the salt in them, too. Yikes!


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