Sunday, January 30, 2011

by-the-wind sailors...

by-the-wind sailors

i have sailing on the brain a bit, but i think most ocean-related activities are never far from it. however, currently i am reading farther than any man: the rise and fall of captain james cook so i've been spending a lot of time with the royal navy. for those who don't know, i have a considerable and constantly growing collection of books relating to the history and ecology of the british columbia coast. this one's actually a library book, although i'm enjoying it so much i'm thinking of buying it anyway - martin dugard spins a good tale. i also spent some time as a cultural interpreter when i was fresh out of my anthropology degree, regaling (or boring) tourists and locals alike on boat tours through the inside passage. local history is a bit of a passion, and as things go around here, much of that history relates to the sea.

by-the-wind sailors

but - i'm getting a little off course (haha, i kill myself with the sailing puns). you're probably wondering what those odd-shaped things are in the photos. they are velella velella, or by-the-wind sailors, or just sail jellyfish. these jellies have a curious shape, with a "sail" that sits atop their flat blue bodies, allowing the wind to blow them where it will. they have no other way to propel themselves, unlike most other jellyfish. this also means that at certain times of year you might also come across many of them washed up on the beach. i have only seen them once out in tofino, hundreds of electric blue animals strewn across the sand. it was a curious sight, and at the time i didn't know what they were. only later did i read an article in tofino time explaining the phenomenon.

i had been thinking about them again recently, little sailors adrift on the high seas, at the mercy of the wind and currents. and so i decided to stitch a few up with some blue linen, and make their "sail" with some shimmery cotton with a wispy thin layer of silk over top. they are heavily stitched with several shades of blue thread, plus a bit of silver, with a bamboo batting inside. i was trying to recreate their translucent appearance, although i'm not sure it worked, really. they were a fun little diversion though.


they came along to the beach yesterday with the other creatures, and they really seemed most at home strewn across the sand. there were other sailors out too, adrift in their sailboat. there wasn't much of a wind, but they seemed to be trying to catch a bit of it, see where it took them.

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