Saved by a Slave Story
Sunday, February 16, 2014
Mystique's Caicos to Great Exuma Passage
Day 2; Leg 2
Abraham's Bay, Mayaguana to Atwood Harbor, Acklin's Island:
22 degrees 16.70 N
72 degrees 48.40' W
wind: 15-17 knots
boat speed: 5-6 knots
Platt escapes Epps' hounds by eluding them in a swamp filled
with alligators, snakes, mosquitos and other poisonous creatures.
As we left the relative calm of the Abraham's Bay, Mystique, with mainsail raised turned more northwestward for our second day out from Provo. To wile away the hours, I invited Lynne to a reading. A few days earlier she had just finished the book Mudbound, and I had recently purchased 12 Years a Slave so while on autopilot, I read chapters 1-6 outloud to Lynne while we both sat at the helm and passed the next 4 hours away reading and discussing the novel. Neither of us have had the opportunity, or likely will for a while, to watch the Academy Award nominated best picture nominee. So, the next best thing read the book. As we read, I could not help but notice a number of parallels between our vicarious reading of this novel, our novel voyage. and the enslavement of Soloman Northup in 1841.
Without suggesting our voyage had anything remotely akin to the horrific experience Soloman (Solo Man) endured, slavery and sailing on the ocean, nevertheless, have some striking, simplistic similarities.
As we reached Plana Cays by chapter 4, I viewed how slavery and sailing possess common traits:
Seasickness makes one feel inhuman.
Seasickness enslaves a person.
Slavery is a sickness.
Few escape options are available or viable
for "captive" passengers or crew aboard a sailing vessel.
Any passenger or crew member is at the mercy of the surrounding sea,
vessel and its social system or dynamic.
A captain or overseer can adversely impact upon the experience
of a crewmember or passenger.
The conditions, harsh reality and rules at sea make demands on the human spirit
like those on a plantation.
The passengers and crew's survival is dependent upon the captain's decisions.
No one wants to work when they feel enslaved by their environment, but sometimes work is one's own salvation and savior.
Survival was often determined by adverse conditions and circumstances.
Will power is power.
I guess the inevitable question "Did reading this story help our passage?"
Yes, our four hours passed more quickly. Any story about man's inhumanity to man is compelling reading. We were both held captive by the narrative. Our situation in many ways could never truly compare to such a tale. We were, after all, free of the shackles of slavery, though at the time we had yet to realize we had been held captive more by our own perceptions than by outside forces. But the book did help us face some rough seas together. So, maybe we could say we were enslaved in some ways. The next day revealed how captive rather than captivated we both were.