Saturday, October 16, 2010


Anyone got one of these babies we can have?
A follower of our blog, Joe, wrote me the other day and told me a crazy story of his boat taking on water while he was solo sailing just outside of Ocean City, NJ.   I won't re-tell his story here, but he ended up having to sail into his harbor, down a river, and under a bridge (talk about a nail biter) and he wrote, "This adventure got me thinking about luck.  We need a bunch of it."

He's totally right.

Sure, experience and skill can counter the event of many calamities or mistakes, but not all.  Even the very best sailors have had "Oh s*@t" moments.  Weather can come out of nowhere, an engine can die, a wire can corrode, I mean - a whale can breach on your boat for God's sake!  I can't say for sure, but I'll bet any successful seafarer will tell you he or she has had a little (or more) luck on their side.  Anyone who ventures out onto the ocean in a boat is taking a risk - a calculated risk - and hoping they have a few lucky breaks along the way.

Take our adventure thus far.  I have thought a LOT about luck.  Scott and I, I would say, have been on the "lucky" side of the fence, and for that I am very thankful.  Whenever "disaster" struck (and I put disaster in quotes, as we have really not been in any serious danger) - it was at, honestly, the best time possible.  Sheer luck.

When we hit that storm, we were within 15 miles of shore, and knew we were near safe harbor (we just didn't want to enter one at night, which is why we battled it until morning).  When we were taking on water, it was a beautiful, calm night and we were just 20 miles outside of Buffalo, NY.  We knew if (God forbid) something was *seriously* wrong, we would have been safe.  When our transmission failed and put our engine on the fritz, we literally had *just* left the marina, and were able to get right back to it - safely.  We also happen to be in a city full of marina's and boat mechanics.  Luck.  Luck.  Luck.  I just need to say it now:  THANK YOU UNIVERSE!!

But these things do make me think what could have been.  What if all these things happened at different times? What if our anchor had punctured a hole in our hull while it was swinging wildly in the waves? What if our transmission failed during that crazy storm?  What if we had taken on water just the day before when we were being bombarded by erratic lake Erie waves?  What if...what if....and then I start thinking of us "out there".  It makes me a little....nervous.  Now that we have been out here for a little while - I have a better grasp of exactly how many things can go wrong on a boat, and it is mind boggling how much trust we put in ourselves and our boats.

But I guess this is the beautiful thing, isn't it?  That we trust ourselves and our boats...and with any luck - we'll get through it just fine, and be stronger for it.

I know our issues are nothing compared to what many long-term cruisers have endured, and I know this is not the end of our troubles.  This is just the beginning.  We know this.  And we'll most certainly endure much worse at some point or another.  Maybe not, but it's likely.

Perhaps this is the price we must pay for having the opportunity to live our dreams?

For that, I'd consider myself pretty damn lucky.


Jaye said...

Yeah, I'd mused about this too - at sea, you can influence, but not control, your circumstances.

BK said...

With all of your preparing, I think you guys have created your luck.
John Vigor has a great writeup on luck and sailing here:

Its all about "points in the box"

vytas sunshine daydream said...

Hey guys,
I just discovered your blog. Well done and very prolific. I have much to read to catch up. My uncle Sharky works with Maureen who I think is a good friend of Brittany's mom. Anyway, my wife Tracy and I did a live-aboard cruising stint from Sept 2007 (leaving Chicago) through June of 2009 (returning to Chicago) aboard our 1985 Morgan 43 CC. We did not circumnavigate but did the Med-Carib circle tour. In short, we spent winter of 07/08 in Bahamas, crossed Atlantic in spring of 08, did Med to NW coast of Italy and back, crossed Atlantic to Barbados fall of 08, and then sailed north from Trinidad all the way back to Chicago from Jan-June of 09.

While my wife is very happy to be done cruising (and we didn't have a choice since we had to go back to work given our empty bank account), I miss it - especially this time of year when all the lucky ones are southbound.

As for luck and your blog on Bill Fleming, one of the lasting impressions of our journey was the incredible "kindness of strangers" that we encountered time and time again. Glad to hear you've already experienced that wonderful experience.

Anyway, very glad to see another young couple "chucking it all" to go out and do it. I'll be following along and if you have questions or need advice on anything while southbound or in the Caribbean, don't hesitate to ask since we've been through all that not too long ago.

Lastly, do you know George aboard Earthling (Islander 36). He left Chicago in Sept and is southbound via the Mississippi (in St. Louis now). You might run into each other down island. His blog is and I will tell him about you. He's a good guy and travelling mostly by himself.

Take care,
S/V Sunshine Daydream
847-414-3674 mobile

Mid-Life Cruising! said...

Great post! I guess you can't really live life without a little risk. Glad to hear it's all been pretty good so far. Hopefully we'll be as "lucky" when we set sail.

Jill, Tim and Toby Dog said...

As sailors I'm sure you guys are fans of Jimmy Buffett, I know my sailing family has always been. I couldn't help but think of his song "Love and Luck" as I read your post:

It's perfect for you guys!

I am a newly married, newly 30 graduate student who along with my new husband has had the dream of chucking it all and shoving off (as Vytas put it above) for a long time and we are finally doing the necessary steps to make it happen. We found your blog and have been reading it daily because it is so incredibly helpful to us as we do the boat buying research, the repairs, the equipment research, plot courses, make plans, etc. You guys are about 2 years ahead of us. Thank you for being so candid and sharing because you keep us inspired to keep on keeping on towards our dream becoming a reality. THANKS! We'll be following...
Jill & Tim Farrell
New Hampshire & Cape Cod
(if you come by any port on the tiny NH coast we live on the water and would be happy to help you in any way we could.

Windtraveler said...

Hey Jill and Tim!

Thanks for reaching out - we are happy to be 'helping' you achieve your dreams by writing about feels like just yesterday we were where you are, and here we are now! Time sure does fly!

Regretfully, we will not be going to the NH coast at all as when we *finally* get out of NY we are heading SOUTH! (we are late and stuck in Buffalo right now, where we have been for nearly a week).

Anyway, please keep in touch and thanks again for writing!


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