On board the ship, days and nights happen without me noticing the change of light and shadow. The cabin catches me, and I’d the passage of time as I write about the next courses. I’ve developed a kind of thematic index, an inventory of elements and circumstances that will help me maintain the order of ideas. The index is indicative, since as I navigate, the stories alternate according to the interest of the moment. Here is a brief description of its content:

a) – Logbooks

(Where heading, speed, manoeuvres and other navigational adventures are mentioned).

At the time of writing, I understand that things would have been easier if at some point I would record the events with discipline. It was not so, so the reader will have to take these events with great tolerance. At this point, little would contribute to trying to give them a strict chronological order, but perhaps such an order can be intuited as the reading goes on. By the way, I remind you of my rank on this ship: helmsman. I’m just driving. I don’t take orders either. Sometimes I take on the role of a captain and wander in the cellars, delirious because of rum. When I go up to the deck, I cling to the helm and the reality takes on other directions… Then the log becomes a reflection of them.

b) – The seas (Regions in which I sail)

The ship is the same, but the seas I sail vary according to the wind: photography, poetry, painting, crafts, books. From every sea I visited, I barely know its surface and some not too deep stretch. They are too vast to explore them entirety, and since my age does not allow me to undertake such an adventure, I usually sail them or dive its depths up to where I can, and then I change to another region randomly. More details in the course of this journey.

c) – The cabin

Journeys are recorded in a certain place, at a certain time. My cabin allows me privacy and suppression of any task other than to image journeys, then plot a map according to those visions, and drive the ship to a new harbor. Or to just sit on a couch, wandering at the mercy of lazy waves. Or why not, open the window and contemplate the place where the ship is stranded.

d) – Compasses and other instruments.

Compasses, either on land or offshore, are but useless instruments in the hands of a sailor who does not remember spaces or horizons. Thus, there are times when the magnet indicates a course that I cannot glimpse. It is necessary to remain in harbor until winds clear the mist. Which way? Occasionally I lose my compass, and even if I find it later, I don’t know how to interpret it. Magnetic fields, like emotional states, conspired in such a way that there is no rose of the winds capable of guiding me. The sky is a great guide on starry nights, but when the fog hides the stars, one must be the craftsman who designs and builds the devices that can point a course. I also use mechanical and optical instruments that other sailors, pioneers of navigation, manufactured for beginners like me.

e) – Winds and tides.

My ship is not self-propelled. It belongs to the type of vessel that moves on according to external circumstances. Once the wind blows, I choose direction. If the tide designates it, I remain in the harbor and walk. There is always a tavern, a square or a forest from where I can see my boat awaiting. We both know how to wait. The moon takes command.

f) – Sails and anchors

Without sails, a ship barely moves. The sails that pick up the wind are like the pages of a book that can transport you anywhere, they are the kites that you flew when you were a child looking for the heights. Today, when you go out and sail, it is surely with sails tailored for a planned journey. But there are ones other more elaborate, more complex, that can lead us to where no one was before. Those sails, the ones that we must make, should be tailored by our dreams. The anchors? First you have to sail away…

g) – Ropes, knots and nets

They are the elements that hoists or folds the sails that move the ship, or that hold it to the dock. They propel the plot of the voyage or tie the ship to shore. Follow the ropes and you’ll know how the ship got here.

h) – Navigation charts

I got used to make notes. Some of them help me to remember the route: where I walked, the routes I followed, the signs that guided me. Other notes make me easier to return to those places, or to venture to continue sailing. It would be very pretentious if these cartographies could be of help to other travelers, but I’m excited to think that someone takes their own helm trough the inspiration of my sketches.

i) – Notes on harbor

My notebooks and pencils accompany me more than any other instrument. I take them where I go, and I consider them the true depositaries of my beliefs (in both meanings of the term). In them I record what catches my attention, be sketches illustrating future projects, or isolated words that later make me relive the experiences that gave rise to them.

j) – In the open sea

One deploys his sails according to the wind, moderates tensions, and trusts the mirages. Sea in, with the surrounding horizon line dividing two planes, the senses come to flap. Nothing new can be expected from vast anodyne. It doesn’t matter where you turn at the helm: the landscape is the same. Worse is even if one gets bored and decides to let go of the rudder or lower the sails. One must continue until something happens, in the form of a memory, or an unforeseen stimulus, or a trick of the mind. In a small sea, the size of a tub, someone shouted “Eureka.” This is how you navigate when a new sense is awakened, and for an instant, it gives meaning to everything…

k) – Expeditions and wanderings

Unusual places or circumstances, improvisations and  encounters with out-of-the-box results, as was assumed.

l) – Terra Incognita (Encounters with the Unknown)

Questions I don’t have answers for. Maybe that’s why I never stop asking myself.

m) – East, West, and the space between them

At one point in my journey I was oriented. To put it somehow, without ever leaving my South, I ‘dis-occidented’ and put my north in the East. I barely sprayed the waves from its shores, but I don’t lose hope of approaching its shores. From my cabin I describe a world that I would may have visited in my dreams.

n) – Rituals of a navigator

Habits, inherited customs, minor vices, call them as you like, but there they are. They don’t bring anything substantial to navigation, but at times they’re the pause some rudders need.

o) – Overseas and beyond: the sailor is absent.

Sooner or later, every sailor receives a vacation which it is impossible to refuse. Predicting events whose alteration is not available to current science, this sailor decides to explain here what should be done with the material on board, the crossings and projects that may have been realized if I would only had more time. Some ports that other navigators may discover are also succinctly described.



About “Cartographies of an in-land sailor”

This ship has been sailing for more than three decades and today, (April 2020), it’s the first time that this solitaire and absentminded sailor decided to make records, some retrospective and some recent ones.

Chaotic, absurd tales from here, there, nowhere… And also brief descriptions of his imaginary sailings.

Just think of the logbook written by the captain of the Flying Dutchman: ghostly notes, vanishing details, words and pictures to be read and seen by wandering spirits, or perhaps by… you?

Welcome aboard!

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The dark cabin

January 20th, 2021|0 Comments

Near the bow is the main cabin, where imagination flies at the pace of the wind, or simply sings with the waves of the port. At the stern is a secondcabin, which I call The Dark Cabin. The result of each voyage is reflected there. Maps and geographic charts, whether real or fictional, see the light in a space where light is paradoxically scarce. I don't visit that space every day. Doing so involves staying more than half the day working in reddishdarkness: the materials used there require that kind of lighting. The days designated for such work are premeditated and scheduled. As I stay in this cabin, the ship is adrift. Hours pass and at the end of the day one or more maps are finished to be shown to those people who know about my travelsand wait in a hurry in some port. To them I dedicate these rectangles of paper that will one day be as faded as my hair: there is no map or navy thatresists the onslaught of the years. The dark cabin also officiates as a Machine Room. My ship's devices are electrical and mechanical. There is no technological sophistication. Just theessentials to get to the destination: just some instruments that direct the light, and some substances that allow me to draw maps. The enlargers, radiating light from their lenses, look like headlights in the dark that, in their work of printing, guide me towards the final destination: the finished photographic chart. For this humble navigator, everything is unified there: at that moment the map and the territory are the same thing, just as the shipand the sailor are identical.