Caroline and Moby
06 June 2012 | Red Sky at Night, Sailors Delight
Heading home. Hard to believe that it has been 11+ months since we sailed down the Genesee River, crossing Lake Ontario and out the St Lawrence Seaway. In this past year, covering over 5000+ miles, we have overcome fears, tested our courage, reached a whole new level of trust in each other and experienced some of the most spectacular scenery and marine wildlife we’ve ever encountered.
The people we have met along the way have been an added bonus. The family and friends we have missed, somehow managed to stay connected to us through emails, comments on our blog, and visits, when we were lucky.
Caroline: “Our smartest move was giving up our jobs while we were still young enough to physically handle the rigors of living on a boat and the entire offshore sailing experience.”
Moby: “The other smart thing we did was that we went on this adventure before we had figured out how much it would cost, because if we had known that information upfront, we would never have taken the leap.”
Least favorite times:
Moby: “ Least favorite times were when it was blowing 30 mph winds all night long in Simpson Bay, St Martin. …or Sandy Island, BVI when it was rolling like crazy. It was probably the worst night out there, aside from the tropical storm. Rolling a 40-60 degree arc drove me out of my mind. Amazingly, it only seemed to bother Caroline when she was trying to fix dinner and didn’t have enough hands to stabilize all the preparations from sliding all over.”
Caroline: “My least favorite times were pounding head-on into 12-14’ waves; rolling side to side while simultaneously taking plunging nosedives through big seas. There were times we’d taken on so much water over the side that we could have taken a bath in our cockpit.”
Overcoming Fears; Testing Courage:
Moby: “I overcame my fear of sailing in 60 knot winds. As for testing courage, it’s not fun going up on the rocks as we did in St Lucia and not knowing if you have created a hole in the hull or damaged the rudder.”
Caroline: “I was probably most afraid of losing Moby over the side whenever he went up on the bow to reef the mainsail or to switch to the staysail in big winds and big seas. If he went overboard, I’d have to somehow singlehandedly release the sails, mark his position, toss him a flotation device and turn the boat around to pick him up. In high seas, that can be an impossible feat, no matter how much you love someone, so I didn’t want to have to face that scenario.”
Establishing a new level of Trust:
Caroline: “It was precisely in some of our scariest moments that my trust and love for my sailing partner grew to full height. The combination of Moby’s sailing knowledge and ability to overcome huge barriers—two knockdowns; no instrumentation; a shredded bimini and dodger, a bent boom and no autopilot in 45’ waves and 55 mph winds. I literally had to trust him with my life.”
“During the six day tropical storm, we were lucky enough to have two top notch sailors with us. As each of us peeled on our soaked clothes to take our turn standing watch, our respect for their courage and spirit skyrocketed. For the most part of our travels, we had only each other to count on.”
Moby: “I was very appreciative of having Ed Gardner as a backboard to help problem solve some of the toughest sailing conditions I’ve ever faced. Keith Baker’s offbeat sense of humor and physical strength was a tremendous help.”
“But I was most proud of the courage Caroline demonstrated. When we had our knockdowns and both ended up underwater, it was a disorienting experience. We really didn’t know if we had gone overboard, and in those seas, that would have been ‘It’. “
“Caroline later told me that she felt sad because she didn’t think we’d be around to see her sons for Christmas, or to say g’bye to her sister or brother….But she never panicked. In 50-60 mph winds, and 45’ waves, she stood her watch and found the strength to hand steer and while off watch, still made sure we had food to keep up our energy. She more than held her own.”
Compare life on a boat to living in Rochester:
Moby: “In comparison to living on a boat, our life in Rochester is very easy. In Rochester, you don’t have to think about where you are going to get your water, your power. You drive to the grocery store.
Your internet and cell phone keeps you connected and in touch. If the weather is bad, you have a roof over your head.”
“ By contrast, on Sapphire, we spent more time on life basics than we’d ever anticipated. Finding ways to communicate with no cell service and always having to track down an internet server was a big deal.
Whenever we left the boat, we’d need to be safety conscious…close and lock all the hatches, take lights if we thought there’d be a chance we would be out past dark. 50% of the time, whatever you were wearing or carrying in the dinghy would get wet before you reached shore.
The boat maintenance and cleaning was constant. And in the storms, you’d just have to weather it out.”
Caroline: “ It totally changed my definition of living “the Simple Life”. Yes, we had scaled down possessions, streamlined our life maintenance and extracted most complications from our day to day lives. But suddenly, doing laundry became a 3 hr process at a laundromat; getting exercise was a constant challenge; grocery shopping meant walking to 3 or 4 different markets for provisioning and lugging back heavy groceries to the boat, hoping you could fit it all in the small frig and freezer space. When meeting up with friends and family, there were times we would need to sail 3 days round the clock, regardless of the conditions. We’d finally arrive somewhere, totally exhausted and would still need to blow up the dinghy and find our way into shore to clear into customs and immigration.
Even posting my blog was a major act of love in my effort to keep in touch with friends and family.
Finding internet service to post entries I’d written, was a rare treat, with the signal being so weak at times it would take multiple attempts to stay connected long enough for an entry to post.”
“It was all part of the experience. Appreciating the freedom of living on a boat, while missing some of the conveniences of our life at home.”
The freedom and beauty of nature:
Caroline: “Sailing up close to whales and dolphins and sea lions, swimming above turtles, stingrays and brilliantly colored fish are breathtaking experiences. Our times of being so near these beautiful big creatures will remain firmly imbedded in my bank of happiest memories. It was magical.”
Bringing us closer together:
Moby: “We definitely spent more time together than ever before, doing very basic life maintenance functions: shopping, erranding, finding boat parts, cleaning, sanding, varnishing, polishing and repairing the boat. During overnight passages, I had to totally trust Caroline to handle the boat while I slept, and visa versa. I’m much more comfortable now with Caroline at the wheel, especially when picking up a mooring or anchoring. Most couples couldn’t conceive of spending 24/7 with their spouse, but with us, it worked.”
Caroline: “Living on a 41’ boat for a year. Yes, I’d say we are certainly closer than before we left. But it worked because we also found ways to give each other the space we needed.”
• If you have always wanted to try a new way of life, don’t over-think it. Just do it.
• If you wait until you have “enough money” to retire, you’ll never retire. How much is enough?
• Do not over-schedule having family and friends visit. It definitely adds to the experience, but it also creates deadlines, so allow yourself plenty of time to sail to the pickup points.
• When it’s just the two of you and no schedule, you can really relax and enjoy the new freedom
• On the other hand, the time you get to spend with family and friends when there are no distractions or interruptions, is pure quality time together.
• Appreciate the beauty in life and in friendships.
• Not being sleep deprived for the first time in 40 years, adds so much quality to your life
• Freedom to live in control of your own time is the biggest gift of all.