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kristianne koch riddle photography
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I am not an outwardly religious person and am pretty uncomfortable preaching or listening to others preach. I think it’s just that I feel this is a personal thing and like to respect privacy around personal things. BUT I do have to say that if you don’t believe in God or Allah or Budda or Ishvara then you must sail across the Pacific Ocean. I found an old journal I wrote in while Jim and I were sailing. I was looking for a blank book I could start keeping photography notes in (that on another post) and came across a leather book with an in-depth account of our trip from San Diego to the Marquesas, Tuamotus and Society Islands then up to Hawaii.

I was shocked at how much of this experience I had forgotten about. I just summed up in my head once the trip was done that yes, there is a God, and he guided us through 9,000 + nautical miles of open ocean sailing. This is my entry about traveling through the Intertropical Convergence Zone or the ITCZ or what I called The Zone. It is where hurricanes are born. This was an area that made a huge impression on both of us but was never really captured photographically to show what it looks like there. I think National Geographic needs to do a feature on this place and I am ready to go as the photographer!

“We anticipated this area for days which prolonged the whole goddam episode. The first sign of the ITCZ was when we were struggling through very confused seas which built to nearly 12′. The sets were very steep and had short intervals with 25knot winds making for a hairy ride. After a day and a half of that; seeing a sea turtle no less-we found ourselves in calmer winds and seas. We thought we had sailed on through because according to the Pilot Chart we were at the latitude where the ITCZ is for this month.

We dropped the cutter after the winds began to die off preparing ourselves to motor through more of the ITCZ with mainsail only. That night while I was on watch we were caught in a tremendous squall. We had a sprinkling earlier that day and it was refreshing. We also saw a shark (this is why I have the tattoo design that I do on my back). My next watch found me bearing longer downpours and Jim had over an hour of rain. By the next am we realized we were definitely still in the ITCZ. An outlandish sky torn asunder with every possible cloud formation creeped the hell out of us. The most eerie thing I have ever seen however, was the sea. Dead calm and glassy, equal size swells crossed each other from every direction. The ocean looked like an undulating blanket of liquid and moved like Mercury. Freaky!


Later that day we headed away from the creepy skies toward a soft white glow like a tunnel sucking us in. As we entered a gentle rain began to fall. It fell and fell and fell for hours enveloping us, suffocating us, and obliterating our vision upon anything except the little boat we were literally attached to by carabiners and harnesses. It crushed our spirit and tested our will. We slowly began to go crazy. That night I expected a little brightness because it was full moon. As late evening approached the sky became blacker and blacker. I couldn’t even see the bow of the boat! I freaked out. I chanted a comforting mantra as huge blobs of phosphorescence the size of VW Bugs floated by*. I felt like I was in hell or another world. I began to fear that this was my eternal fate-to be drifting along on this sailboat day in, day out for the rest of my life. I feared that just as I realized love in my life and came to be happy at work, with family and friends, I chose an existence of hell. It still feels like that a little bit every day. Every day I die a little more. Every day, I go a little more insane. Every day I have to try harder to trust and believe and have faith that ‘This too will pass!'”

*I am pretty sure this is also the night that we watched a pod of dolphins explode huge green, glowing phosphorescent bursts in the water with their blowholes and swim under the hull causing a green glowing streak in the water that looked like a torpedo.

So, it all worked out in the end. Extreme stress and exhaustion balanced out with unbelievable sights in places very few have been. I think this is why I logged it away as “Great life experience, want to go again-soon. Better than anything!” Except the kids-now. But to share it with the kids will be the “life of a lifetime.”