The Doldrums is a belt of abounding calm sea, very light shifting winds sprinkled with sudden squalls north of the equator between the northern and southern trade winds in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans; in other words, a place a stagnation and inactivity that has frustrated and depressed circumnavigation sailors since they took to the seas. That’s how February feels to me – gray, gray and more gray with unpredictable temperature changes, listless air, rain one day and snow the next, never cold enough nor warm enough to enjoy being out of doors for any reason.
This is the time of surgery on Dolce Vento to repair her internal organs — electrical, plumbing and energy systems — requiring her deep sedation immobilized high off the ground on jack stands hooked to an electrical life support system, because, like a living being, the delicate work is impossible otherwise. Her surgeon, a caring electrical engineer named Steve, carefully moves her existing cables and wires aside to build compartments, add new elements, replace broken gauges and repair broken wires and connections. My husband, a surgical assistant dismantled the V-birth to access a broken water tank sensor, which he brought back to life with a good cleaning and reinsertion. When I see her exposed innards, I ache with mental pain, fearing she will not be mended, though I am reassured that all surgery will be successful, giving her many years of new life and functionality.
To cope with the uncertainty of her post surgery hospitalization, I took to supporting her recuperation by improving her external parts– remaking her discarded canvas mainsail cover into useful hatch covers to protect her interior from the much anticipated summer sun, creating seven canvas storage bags complete with draw strings and tag labels for organizing parts and pieces when we live aboard, and replacing an overly deep and cumbersome leather bench seat in the aft cabin with a sleek, dark marine blue, piped cushion, custom designed to fit perfectly, allowing easy access to storage units above the bench. Next week I dive into sewing bed covers for both the master and V-birth beds as the ones we inherited when we bought the boat were pale from too many years of use. I’m determined to forget the February doldrums and its energy suppression with positive activity to produce product and progress toward our preparation to live aboard. We also ordered a new main sail, the current one so weathered that it must be put to out of its misery, and a new stay sail, missing from our sail inventory, a small sail designed to bring in the center of gravity closer to the mast when the Genoa (big jib) is too much sail for difficult weather conditions.
Then, this past week, John caught a flu.