Thursday, May 11, 2017

Getting off the Dock: A Recharge, a Refresher and a Water Commute to School


We have had our boat since December and have sailed her only once. Pretty pathetic, right? Thing is, >>>running a business<<< in the islands is a >>>heck of a lot of work<<< (even though the job comes with lots of perks!) and the months have been slipping past. With Scott managing >>>our company<<< and me managing our kids and home life, time flies by with zero effort and no lag. It's been go, go, go around here and we've had one heck of a busy high season with lots of fun stuff in the mix - but one thing we haven't been doing? Sailing.

That had to change.

"We need to take this boat out" Scott lamented one morning with tired eyes as he sat in front of his computer working on accounting. "I mean, we live on a boat for God's sake..." The ring of his cell phone cut the conversation short and he answered the call.  He was right. When transitioning from "cruisers" to "live-aboards" we didn't envision sailing so little. We knew we would no longer be "gypsies" roaming around to our hearts content - at least for the time being - but, still, we *had* expected weekly or at the very least, bi-monthly sails. Our business and our personal life, however, had other plans. "Yes, let's do it!" I agreed after he hung up the phone. We needed to put a big, fat X through this item on our to-do list and we needed to make it a priority. Even the girls had been begging to go sailing lately.

The problem is, sailing is S L O W and time is often against us. We hardly ever have a couple days in a row that would allow us to enjoy life "on the hook" as it were... When we do get time together as a family it's usually an afternoon or morning here or there at which point we opt to take out our "fast boat" to maximize efficiency and respect the all-mighty nap or bedtime. This weekend, we said to hell with that. "Let me get some work done this morning," Scott continued, "...and we'll sail this afternoon and anchor out somewhere close tonight." I reminded him that the girls had school the next morning and he just shrugged and said we'd sail back first thing in time to get them there. I was sold.

***

I've >>>written about it before<<<, but getting off the dock is like a giant "sigh" to the soul. Don't get me wrong, while lots of sailors hate on marinas (they are hot, expensive, crowded, etc, etc.), I am not one of them. Our marina is SO much more than a marina; it's a community and our neighborhood. It is home and given our current situation as non-cruising ex-pat live-aboards, we would have our living scenario no other way. HOWEVER...there is something amazing about releasing the dock lines and setting sail. It is, after all, why we have chosen to live on a sailboat. No greater archetype of freedom exists I don't think than a sailing vessel pointing it's bow to the open sea... But freedom means nothing if it's not exercised and a dock, by nature, hinders the very spirit of a sailboat.

***

We weren't entirely sure where we were going to end up as we raised the main, but given there are a multitude of anchorages a very pleasant two-hour beam reach from our marina, we weren't too concerned. As we slipped quietly past the breakwall, the girls settled into their "comfy spots", snacking on popcorn and watching the waning sun shine on the water as the wind whipped about their bed tousled hair. We finally decided on Benures Bay on Norman Island and it quickly dawned on me as we were dousing our mainsail to enter the bay in that this would be our first time ever anchoring >>>our new boat . <<< Hmmm....

***

We slowly motored around anchorage looking for a spot to drop the hook - noting we were a little rusty at the practice - and soon as we found a place we thought was suitable, I started to lower our >>>beast of a Rocna<<<. It was at this juncture when I had yet another realization: we had no idea how this chain was marked, if it was marked at all. For those of you non-sailor readers, knowing how much chain you let out upon anchoring (also known as "scope") is pretty vital to the success of staying put. Letting out too much scope could have you banging into your neighbor in the middle of the night, too little could find you >>>dragging into another neighbor,<<< or worse, into rocks or shore. Both scenarios are very, very bad.

But I digress...

As I started lowering the chain I was pleased to notice that it was indeed marked but I had no idea of what increments (20 feet? 30 feet?) after letting out what I thought was 150 feet (but, in hindsight, was probably a lot more) we backed down and determined we were good for the night. Just as we were about to shut off our engine and crack open a chilled bottle of sauvignon blanc a neighbor who had been tentatively and casually watching us from his bow (the universal sailing signal for "I am uncertain with what you are doing here but not going to be a jerk about it") kindly yelled to us that the bay we were in was notorious for flukey winds and he was concerned that we might do a little tango in the night...being utter newbies to this particular anchorage we decided to trust him and up anchor to move over to the completely empty western corner of the bay. Considering our crew and their very early rising hour (and distinct lack of 'inside voices'), this move was probably better for everyone.

We re-anchored, Scott dove it, and after swimming for what appeared to be a very long time, determined I let out way too much chain. Knowing we were alone where we were and extra chain wouldn't be a problem - we settled in the cockpit with our friends Ray and Sandy who'd we randomly run into in the first bay and had come over for a happy hour cocktail.

As the sun slipped behind the ridge, our very boisterous and energetic girls took turns blowing Ray's conch shell to signal the setting sun while the adults tried (rather unsuccessfully I might add) to have uninterrupted adult conversation. The sky grew dark and our bellies started to rumble so our friends buzzed off in their dinghy and I got to work preparing a simple dinner of salad and pasta. We ate in the cockpit with nary a soul within ears reach and our beautiful boat gently bobbing in the breeze. The vibe all around was decidedly happy as we chit chatted and ate underneath a sky dotted with stars. Scott and the girls retired to the bow of the boat to check out the waxing moonrise while I went below to clean up after supper.

***

A boat at anchor feels, smells and sounds a lot different than one at the dock. For one, we didn't have our air conditioning - and the associated white noise it brings - running. Instead, hatches were all flung wide open and a cool sea breeze wafted through the interior in puffs clearing out all stale air. We also move at anchor (sometimes a lot which is >>>incredibly unpleasant<<<) which is a marked difference from life at the dock. It's ever so subtle and almost womb-like, and every time we anchor the girls go right to bed when the time comes. Then their are the noises a boat 'on the hook' brings;  the sound of wind and birds overhead heard through open hatches, the muffled shifting of contents in their cubbies due to the gentle movement of the boat, and wind singing in the rigging ... but the main difference I noticed on this night was the haphazard sound of waves lapping against the side of the hull. This sound, very reminiscent of my youth from family cruising vacations and a very visceral, pleasant memory that gives me the warm fuzzies and literally transports me back in time - on this particular night actually kept me up all night long. Subtle changes like these usually take a day or two of adjusting for me and had we an extra night or two to find a groove I'd have been fine, but as it was - both Scott and I had a very (comfortable and peaceful) sleepless night, if that is possible.

***

The girls awoke with the cries of the gulls overhead and we enjoyed another simple meal al fresco in the cockpit, relishing in the serendipity that brought us to a solitary part of the anchorage as we most definitely were the first ones awake and the aforementioned lack of the "inside voice" would probably have rustled a few neighbor's feathers. It was so beautiful to watch the sunrise and be outside, unencumbered by the worry that we would wake neighbors or disturb anyone, a concern that is ever-present at the marina...By 7 a.m. we had weighed anchor and raised our sails and were sailing back to our home marina. The girls had school that morning and we needed to get an early start.

***

The getaway was short and sweet, but it was just what we needed: solitude, simplicity and nature. It reminded us why >>>we are here<<< in this beautiful place we call home: A place where you can feel a million miles away from civilization one moment, and commute to school by boat the next.

And now for some pics of our little staycation...

I got to bust out my 'good camera' (Canon Rebel) and the new lens Scott got me!

Our little thinking, Mira. Her name means Ocean in sanskrit.

A typical snapshot of what it looks like when we are underway.

The girls love sailing.


Entering the harbor and spotting our friends aboard s/v Megerin, a pleasant surprise!

Mira taking care of her baby after we set the anchor.

Once we anchor, the girls throw off their life jackets and begin playing like monkeys.

Scott dove our anchor to make sure it was set. 

Possibly my most favorite picture ever.

Our cove was far from the one we first tried to anchor in, so we had a nice solitary morning.


The girls getting dressed for the day.

Wine glass left on deck. A sign of a nice evening, right?

The sunrise through our salt-sprayed dodger.

We stuck with a simple breakfast on this morning.

This child. Oh, Haven! Her name means "safe harbor" but her personality is more reminiscent of a (totally adorable and lovable!) hurricane!

Our Isla, an old soul and a salt life baby from the start.

Playtime before we set sail.

A little post-breakfast pow-wow.

Sailing home. An amazing night!

5 comments:

Martha said...

I love your blog and esp. love this post. We are awaiting the arrival of our first child (a girl!) in July and I love seeing all the things that you guys do with your girls. Thanks for sharing. =)

LadyGail said...

Have loved your blog since Isla was born. Your a wonderful mother and writer!!
Gods blessings for you all.

Life On The Rode said...

Hi Guys! Long time.
Benures is just about our favorite anchorage in the BVI. We always added a stern tie to shore to avoid those flukey winds. A little extra work but worth it. Good snorkeling there as well.
Glad you were able to work in a little get away. Hope we get a chance to cross wakes sometime.
Happy Mother's Day
Kirk & Donna
L440 "Ainulindale" (just sold and presently land bound in Annapolis).

Jody Kaye said...

So glad you guys got away for a night. Warms my heart. I had my Scotty read the post to me as we were driving to Wisconsin. I knew he would love your writing style and he admired all the photos. I was telling him all about the girls
And how adorable they were when we saw you. I hope you have a blessed Mother's Day!

Laura and Hans said...

We spent our first trip in the Bahamas hanging around with a couple on a boat named Megerin. We were amazed when a boat from Pittsburgh (where we're from) pulled into the slip beside us in Green Turtle Cay. Surely it must be them!

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