Thursday, May 02, 2013

Changing Tacks: Plans are Written in Sand

It is often said that a cruiser's plans are written in sand.  It's oh-so cliche but very true; our agendas often change like - and with - the wind.  One day we'll be planning on sailing to an island to the east and, due to an unexpected wind shift, we decide to head to an island further south.  We might expect to stay in a place for only a few days, and end up staying months.  When you ask the question, "Where to next?" it is not at all unusual to hear, "We don't really know, but we're thinking that we might..."  It's a luxury of this lifestyle to have the freedom to change our minds and roam as we please.  Plans are written in sand.  At low tide.

You see where this is going right?

Yep.  We're changing tacks.  A few days ago I wrote how Scott and a crew of two volunteers would be sailing our boat offshore from here (Georgetown, Bahamas) to the British Virgin Islands, where Isla and I would met them.  I must admit, I was never comfortable with this arrangement and every time I talked about it, I felt a little uneasy.  A little cowardly even.  Scott and I have sailed almost 6,000 nautical miles together.  We've been crossing cruising milestones off our list one by one, and we have done it all together.  We're a team.  This dream was as much (if not more) mine than his and for me to sit out our longest passage to date?  Well, I didn't really like the thought of it.  If I am to be honest, I had even been harboring a little healthy jealousy.  How could I let him embrace the challenges, the sites, the sounds, the monotony, the lessons, the zen, the revelation and the chaos of a long ocean passage without me?  I mean, an eight to ten day non-stop voyage is a pretty big deal.  It's not crossing an ocean or anything, but it's nothing to shake a stick at either.  Scott and I have been equals all this time, and now he'd be getting a leg up on me.  Not that we're competitive with each other (because we're not), but I couldn't let that happen.  Call me selfish, but I wanted to experience it, too.

So after that post, I started thinking.  I thought and thought and thought some more.  I consulted with fellow cruisers.  I posed the question to a Women who Sail group that I am part of to get their advice as cruising women and mamas.  The wheels were turning.  When I had made up my mind, I sent the following text to Scott: "Should Isla and I join you guys on the passage? I am tempted to go and with the crew's help, I think we'd be fine..."  Scott's immediate response:  "That's not a bad idea!!  I'd love it!".  And so began a series of texts going over the pros and cons of us coming along, with Scott spontaneously texting excited pleas for us to join in between.  The decision wasn't that hard, really.  We're going.  I mean, if we plan on being a sailing family we've gotta do this eventually, right?  No time like the present.

Of course I had to email our two wonderful volunteer crew mates and let them know what we were thinking.  After all, when they signed on to crew it was not with a baby aboard.  Whether or not you sail I know that most people can understand that having a baby on the boat is a major game-changer.  I needed their blessing.  So I wrote them asking what they thought, and - thankfully - both were not only totally supportive of the idea, but (dare I say it?) even a little excited at the prospect of having us along.

For the most part I will be on Isla duty.  For those of you who are parents, you can appreciate how much work it takes to keep an incredibly active one year old entertained and at bay.  I will help out in other areas where I can, but my main focus will be Isla and keeping her happy and safe.  It will be a challenge.  Imagine, if you will, being in an RV for eight days non-stop with a toddling infant who loves to climb and walk.  Then take that RV, and rock it side to side, sometimes violently, for hours and hours at a time.  Throw in some storms, a little car-sickness, and non-stop banging and clanking.  Nope, there are no pit stops.  It will be interesting and we will learn a TON about our boat, sailing with an infant, each other and offshore passage making.  As usual I will write and tell you all about it and we will be posting updates as frequently as we can (sans photos) via SSB.

We are so stoked, giddy even.  There are, of course, the nervous worries that creep into my head late at night when I lay awake in bed: will Isla get seasick? How will I keep her entertained?  Will we encounter horrible weather?  Will she keep the crew awake?  Will the crew get along?  Will all our systems run as planned?  What about rogue waves, submerged shipping containers, sleeping whales, etc... Nerves, for me, are inevitable.  And I believe they are healthy at sea.  They indicate a level of respect that is mandatory for the ocean and nature.  The understanding that - no matter how prepared we might be - we are not in control.

Scott comes home tomorrow (excited scream followed by happy dance).  Now begins the time to mentally prepare ourselves and our boat for this passage.  We'll keep you posted!


Courtney said...

I'm excited for you! Challenges are worth taking on and accomplishing, are they not? Extending yourself, testing yourself, aren't those the things worth living for? Good luck and Godspeed!

Anonymous said...

How exciting! I'm really looking forward to following your journey. Jacqueline

Michelle said...

Very exciting! :)

Anonymous said...

It's going to be....interesting.. Those crew mates are sailing gold!

They go from essentially a guy dream sail, and a guys world (yes it a very simple uncomplicated culture) it inserting a Woman (spouse no, less) AND a one year old....WOW. These deserve a medal already!

This will hopefully be nice and boring but more likely one it will be for the books.

In a good way don't worry you'll all have a nice laugh in the end and Those Crew mates will always be able to say... You think this is bad...One time I....

As usual I will be waiting with bated breath you missives on the experience! If you gut says it right, then its is right. NEVER ignore that little voice.

Michael said...

You might want to check out the blog Twice in a Life Time.

They are an a Alaskan Couple that sailed from Kodiak to Australia with a 10 month old, then a few years later did it again with a their second child, who was an infant on a new boat! They have lots of great ideas.

Tasha Hacker said...

I always love a good change of plan... Good luck with the preparations!


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