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Madcap Sailing
Plan B
Beth / windy / 14C inside the cabin!
14/10/2009/3:23 pm, Shelburne, NS


We have spent the last few days going round and round and round the possibilities for Plan A - sailing away from Nova Scotia and on to points south. (However much we love this province, it is not our preferred winter abode this year.) Our plans have had to do with timing and risk and destinations on "the other shore". We have finally had enough of that and have moved away from Plan A entirely.

At the end of my last posting, I said "Way will open." Well, way has opened and it is the Highway. After days and days of discouraging forecasts and plummeting temperatures, we started looking at the idea of shipping Madcap south and starting the sailing portion in the Chesapeake Bay.

Plan B sees us sail back to South Shore Marine near Chester, load the boat on a truck and send her off to Solomon's Island, Maryland. It is not all that wildly warm there either right now, but it's a whole lot closer to finding the heat. This plan will also get us to about where we would be at the end of October if we had been able to keep on going when we left on Oct 2.

I keep feeling apologetic about it, but as Jim reminds me, cruising is about weighing options and making the best decision for us. This is it. Is it an easier way out? You bet. More expensive too, but we'll find a way to compensate for that. At least this is something we've never tried before and it takes away the spectre of poor Madcap with ice and snow on her decks and her crew frozen in the cockpit.

Now we are looking at weather windows to go back up the coast and, once again, finding it challenging. How can that possibly be? The wind has been NW up to 25 knots today with wave height of 2 metres but it is scheduled to drop tonight. We plan a "before dawn" start on Thursday in an attempt to make Chester in one day, because Friday brings winds up to 45 and 50 knots, and the next few days after that are NE winds - exactly the direction we will be travelling.

Jim says, "We need to reboot this trip." We are not sure yet of the exact timing of this next adventure but we'll let you know how it evolves.

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14/10/2009/3:50 pm | Mireille Massé
I think you made the right decision! Good luck for the return trip to Chester. Bons vents my friends!
17/10/2009/5:29 am | Monica and Tony
Wise decision.Hope all goes well.
28/10/2009/2:40 pm | Rosalie Johnson
Jim and Beth, have a very safe trip.

I heard that you were having difficulty getting out of Chester. Maybe you need a new skipper.

Cheers.
Enjoying the Colours
Beth / windy
12/10/2009/12:46 pm, Shelburne, NS

We are still tied to the mooring ball at Shelburne Yacht Club. We are still trying to decipher the forecast and tides and currents and our comfort level. We are still bewildered.

However... we took a beautiful drive to Yarmouth yesterday and spent quality time with our friends at Lake Annis - Christine and Art and Bill (and time for a quick hello to John). We soaked up the beautiful autumn colours and the joy of friendship. We dined till we were stuffed to the eyebrows! We filled the fuel tank and topped off the water tank. Jim returned the rental car to Halifax while I enjoyed the warmth of the sun in our enclosed cockpit and caught up on email. The wind generator is keeping us well supplied with power. (We've been here over a week and have never turned on the engine or the Honda generator.) The propane fireplace and our down filled comforter keep us all snuggly when the sun goes down. We have friends who send us encouragement and good ideas.

We are learning to watch and think, but to let go of knee jerk reactions (like when we saw the other two boats here leave for Yarmouth this morning). We will make measured decisions that are right for us and we WILL get south somehow! So what if we don't know when or how? The way will open!!!

Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Columbus Day!

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14/10/2009/3:02 pm | Monica and Tony
We do hope you are able to continue your journey south before too long.We shall look forward to reading your Blog and following your sailing adventures.Keep your spirits up and here's wishing you safe passage.It will be well worth the wait!
15/10/2009/9:23 am | brenda mackenzie
Hi Jim and Elizabeth,
Just wanted you to know that I am watching your progress :) You will be sailing in warm waters soon, leaving us all behind. Safe travels, Brenda
Developing New Skills
Beth / rainy, windy, yucky
10/10/2009/12:05 pm, Shelburne/Halifax

This business of waiting out weather is taking our patience skills to a whole new level. We left Chester on Friday, Oct 2. (we have since been reminded about the superstition that Friday departures are a bad idea) and spent 2 days getting to Shelburne. Madcap has been on a mooring ball there since Saturday, and we came back to Halifax on Tuesday evening. We had planned to go back for a Friday or Saturday departure to Maine. When that weather window disappeared, we thought we'd go back today (Saturday) for a Sunday departure. That seems like a bad idea and now we are looking at Thursday!!

We had no idea we might wait this long for an autumn opportunity to leave. We knew weather windows are harder to find this time of year ... but this?

So ... we wait. And we try to adjust our thinking and balance and equilibrium. When I told Jim this morning that I'm feeling the mixed emotions of fear and sick-at-heart, he said that is exactly what he is feeling too. The fear is from the idea of going out there and trying to push our limits a little and be more adventurous sailors - of becoming able to say, "You should have see the storm we went through!!" - of managing 25 to 30 knots with gusts to 35 and 2-3 meter waves. Madcap is the kind of boat that can do that. But are we the kind of sailors who can go knowingly into that situation? What is our limit? We have sailed in 20 knots and 2 meter waves. How much is too much? And how do we find that out except by testing ourselves? We wouldn't try going straight over to the US in that, but could we move on a little bit? - perhaps find anchorages a little further on or go around to Yarmouth and break up the trip? Add in the tidal component of Bay of Fundy/Gulf of Maine (highest tides in the world) and the combination of high winds and opposing current and the whole thing becomes even less enticing. If we keep waiting for a good weather window, will we still be here when the snow starts to fall? Our stomachs are in knots.

The sick-at-heart feeling is from hanging around home. Yes, it is warm and cosy and there are things to do here. But our deal with Mary Beth and our other housemate, Denise, was that we would be away from Oct to May and the house would be theirs. We are feeling a little like squatters. Weird - and having absolutely nothing to do with anything they have said. It's just that we are not supposed to be here now! Our things are on the boat and we are mentally there, (but physically here because let's face it - it is a whole lot more comfortable in a house than on a boat when the temperature drops to the single digits at night!)

As I ironed shirts this morning, I was trying to pay attention to these emotions and reformat them. We checked in with cousin Russell - our personal weather guru and information supplier. He agreed that this is not good weather to go sailing. Our friend Mary (s/v Strathspey) gave me the name of a boat at RNSYS that is waiting to travel Halifax to Shelburne to Newport (s/v Nelleke). When I looked up their blog, I discovered they are planning to leave Shelburne on Oct 17th and don't seem worried about it being too late. So maybe there is time yet.

Maybe taking a step back from this and not pushing ourselves into something we are not comfortable with does not mean we are wusses. Maybe we will make it out on Thursday (the next possible opening) and Jim can quit his extrapolated thinking that each delay means we will never leave Nova Scotia. Maybe spending Canadian Thanksgiving in Canada means we can pay attention to things for which we are thankful: a good solid mooring ball at Shelburne Yacht Club, a reasonably accurate weather reporting system (even if the reports are for cruddy weather), the chance to spend more time with friends and family (even though we know they are muttering, "We thought you'd be gone by now!) The picture above shows our three "kids" and Jim at the Halifax Farmers Market.

The current plan (noon on Saturday) is to drive down to Shelburne today and move back on the boat for some of the time. We'll spend the next few days waiting and watching and puttering and fretting and deep breathing and talking with our fellow cruisers and trying not to throw things at each other or at the marine radio! And we'd better unclench our teeth and untie the stomach knots so we can eat a fine turkey dinner too!

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