Recently, a friend and I had a conversation about sailing. She also lives on her boat and has left Seattle, aiming for warmer latitudes. I remember when she and her husband and their very cute dog left the dock and thinking to myself that she seemed to really be a competent sailor and her husband was lucky to have such a great partner for their journey – Craig must be jealous. Well it turns out she is under the impression that I am the one who knows what I’m doing and she feels like she hardly knows how to contribute. I was shocked. Shocked and dismayed. How could I have been so misleading? I feel the need to dispel this myth and correct the misunderstanding on a larger scale. Because if you think that I know what I’m doing and that I think this whole sailing down the coast thing is No Big Deal, then I’ve got some ocean front property to sell you in Denver.
Here is an incomplete list of the things I was afraid or anxious about during our recent passage from Monterey Bay to San Luis Obispo:
- Being on watch alone at night
- The dark
- Running into a whale
- Running into a tug & tow
- Running into anything at night (fishing gear, boats, containers, driftwood, etc.)
- Uncharted rocks
- Engine failure
- Electronics failure
- Rigging failure
- Am I going to give myself lockjaw from clenching my teeth so hard from being cold/seasick?
- Doing something that leads to breaking an important thing on the boat
- Flipping the boat
- Is Craig seeing whales while I’m sleeping?
- Are all my friends having fun without me? Do they even remember me?
- Craig going overboard while I sleep
- Me going overboard while Craig sleeps and who is going to get all my Patagonia gear?
This is not an exaggeration – all these bullet points are legitimate concerns of mine. Except that bit about the Patagonia gear because I updated my will and have instructed Craig to have a battle of wits and physical feats. (No I didn’t because I don’t have a will. Do I have any lawyer friends that can help with that?)
Here is an incomplete list of some things that did in fact happen during the 26-hour passage:
- We rode a big wave that heeled us over a lot and stuff went flying, including the yard waste bucket (i.e. decaying food).
- At 5am, before sunrise, we rode a big wave and Craig lost his footing and landed on the GPS (with his face), breaking its mount. It was held in place with bungee cords for the rest of the trip. I must admit, I was relieved that Craig was the one to break something. Does that make me a bad person?
- I got seasick, but made it to my bunk in the nick of time before losing my lunch.
- Many whales were spotted – none were hit!
- Everyone stayed on board.
- We thought we were sailing next to a fishing boat, but in fact it was a tugboat with a barge in tow. We severely adjusted course and slowed down so we wouldn’t die.
Listen – I’m not telling you all of this with any hope for comments about how great I am and how there’s a learning curve and how I’m still a badass. I know all those things. I guess I’m writing for any potential sailors who dream of going offshore (or literally anyone hoping to follow a dream) but who think they just don’t have what it takes. I don’t have it either. But here I am, 1300 miles from Seattle. I’d venture to say that most of us are winging it and faking it, banking on things just working out because we have good intentions. Most of us except probably Craig. I picked some good coattails. And that’s my advice. Find some coattails and go for it!
But seriously, I think it’s common to assume that other people know what they’re doing while criticizing yourself for not knowing as much. So, take it easy on yourself and just go for it – even without someone else’s coattails.
Brew Bulletin with Captain Craig, Translated by the Admiral
Brewery: Sierra Nevada
Brew: Northern Hemisphere Harvest Wet Hop IPA, 6.7 ABV, 66IBU
Summary: Things are changing. The weather is warmer, the water color is becoming brighter, the tans are enhancing and Krystle’s freckles are multiplying. We are also surrounded by flies. Sitting on the hook in San Luis Obispo for a day has been a glimpse into what we’ve been chasing for the last four years. The sun eliminated the need for all the layers, wildlife continues to visit the boat, and we’re in a small seaside community that isn’t playing by the same rules as The Big City. After catching up on sleep from the passage, we spent the day in pajamas with a steady stream of podcasts. Without leaving the boat, our day was somehow filled. I was very productive (per uzhe) cleaning the cockpit (hella gross), installing a flag halyard on the mizzen mast, keeping the crew fed, and unsuccessfully attempting to fix the GPS unit (twice) that I broke with my face. K waged an all-out war with the flies that have somehow found their way out to the boat. She was incredibly outnumbered, but had the Executioner (an electric fly swatter) on her side. There were literally dozens among the dead. We’re all about conservation, so we fed them to the fish.
The beer literally made me say “oh wow…. mmm…oh this is good” after the first few sips. It reminds me of the smell of a tomato vine. The freshness of something that hasn’t been processed. Not that the beer tastes like a tomato vine… it just feels like a connection to what makes beer. And that doesn’t really make sense. So, let’s just say that it’s good.
Bottom line: can recommend
9 thoughts on “The woman behind the curtain”
This is a good one. I’m thrilled with the Brew Bulletin. If you guys start I gofundme or something similar, I’ll gladly contribute to the beer fund if I can pick beers to be reviewed.
I’ll allow it!
I love the bullets. I would agree with all except night watch, my favorite but I’ve only done a handful. It’s very empowering to know that I can navigate the boat while Brian sleeps for 5-6 hrs. I was born a night owl.
Do you guys have AIS? It’s so helpful to be able to click & see who is around you & their speed & direction.
I used to love night watch when I was on the tall ship. I found a lot of peace between 11pm and 3am. I think it’ll get better as we get into warmer weather. I am usually the one navigating, but I know what you mean. I seem to be more prone to seasickness at night when I can’t see the horizon though so I feel a bit on edge just waiting for the nausea – which is likely not helping! The AIS is great and we even broadcast our info, too. It’s the boats who don’t broadcast and the things adrift that concern me more!
Por favor! Get the ‘Wheelhouse Companion’! Keep it at the ‘nav station’. It’s cheap and easy to use and will save your life. A little book with information and diagrams for ships night lights, horn signals, etc. it covers other important stuff and is a good, quick reference guide. At your local chandlery. Unfortunately the beer starts to swing over to lagers in the hottest climates. Don’t worry, some of it is still okay. Make sure that your water maker stays exercised and happy. Be safe, have fun.
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What do all those lights mean?! That’s what 3 months of USCG Captain’s Class was for! We have aboard, and frequently reference, “Navigation Rules and Regulations Handbook”. I would feel so much less prepared to do what we are doing if I hadn’t treated it like we could die doing it.
That you’re concerned and thinking about all those things but not paralyzed by them means that you’re doing it right. It’s like working around heavy machinery, handling firearms, and other common but inherently dangerous things. You want that slight edge of fear and “what if” to keep you sharp and ready to take countermeasures at a moment’s notice. Respect the danger, it’s when you get complacent that you’ll get bitten.
Incidentally, my wife’s standard response to any damage I do is, “Glad it was you and not me” and there’s absolutely no doubt that she’s the better person. Go with it.
Compost bucket = flies?
I’m with the Wire Whisperer’s advice to embrace your Inner Beer Slut, Craig. Lagers were developed in hot climates for a reason. Sun, spice, salt, and a cold, clear beer will keep your motor running. Oh, and freckles.
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We have had the compost bucket he whole time. These flies are new! The freckles are not so new hahaha!
I get all your Patagonia gear, obvs