Rich’s finger stopped on small town tucked into the coast of Chile. “Quellon, it is a well-protected harbor.”
Rich charted the course and quickly calculated the distance. “Over 650 miles of cold weather, up the coast of Chile.”
“I’m about to enter loneliness,” Rich thought, “a loneliness like never before. I should be in Quellon in less than a week, but after that, what?”
He spread the map out further and scanned the vast void between South America and Australia. “Only New Zealand stands in the way.” He made another calculation. “From the coast of Chile to New Zealand over 5,000 miles. That would be quickest, but also lunacy. How often does one go to Polynesia?”
He ran his finger across the map to Easter Island and to Pitcairn Island. “Easter Island is a little more than 2,000; I can do that. Another 1,200 miles to Pitcairn and I’m knocking on the door of Polynesia. It looks a little over 400 miles to the Gambier Islands and after that, it’s island hopping for a while. I may contact Dennis and have him fly there.”
“Zeke!” Rich called out.
Zeke climbed down the companionway and sat next to Rich.
“In four months you’ll be looking at grass skirts, palm trees, white sand beaches, soft breezes, warm days, and clear nights.”
“But we must suffer a little, first,” Rich said.
Zeke hopped on the bench in the cabin and laid his head between his paws. Soon his eyes were slowly closing and opening with each wave until they stayed shut. It was as if he wanted to dream, but reality kept intruding.
Rich rolled the map and set it aside. He poured a coffee and returned to the cover of the cockpit under the canopy of the pilot house.
The day passed jostled by an active sea, lonely, yet sublime. Adventures in Patagonia remained active and fresh in his thoughts and with what seemed like each lurch forward of The Odyssey a pleasant buffer of security layered itself.
Rich felt a familiar physical disturbance come over him. He was about to become ill. At last; the cold, sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion had tallied their sums. For how long, he did not know, but it was all rushing quickly on him. It seemed as though life itself was about to vacate the body and wait until it was habitable before returning.
Rich mustered the strength to go below and rummage for a can of orange juice concentrate. He mixed it with every ounce of strength remaining. Two aspirin were shaken from a bottle and chased with the orange juice.
He climbed back in the cockpit and made sure his heading remained at 360. Returning to the cabin, he lit the furnace, wrapped himself in a blanket, and shivered violently as he laid on the bench. The eyes nor senses no longer remained vigilant.
When Rich woke it was dark. He summoned the will and strength to crawl up the companionway. He listened for breakers and checked his heading; all was well. He returned to his sick bed.
Zeke appeared baffled. He wanted to help, but beyond his reason. He stood watch over the vessel and stood ready for any command Rich might give him. None came from Rich, only a sickly look of helplessness.
The thought of food nauseated Rich. He forced the orange juice and managed a can of chicken noodle soup over a 24 hour period.
However, as quickly as the sickness settled it departed.
“Thanks for watching over me and The Odyssey. Rich said to Zeke laying dutifully on the bench across from him.
Rich climbed to the cockpit with the sextant and stepped outside the pilothouse. He took a reading and returned to the chart table to establish their location. After calculating he murmured, “Five or six days. These are not the best waters, but we shall try to make the best of them.”