The Crew's thoughts about the Caribbean 1500 passage
05 December 2011 | St Maarten
Chris and Janet, for the first time Andy must be at a loss for words
I want to express my thanks and appreciation to my brother and Janet for inviting me on this sailing portion of their dream. Love you both and enjoyed all 18 days I spent on At Last, and of course Andy...what would we have done without him. First, his vast sailing experience and knowledge of various types boats.. unmatched !!......I still don't know which winch to use for what maneuver....a 65 year old trying to memorize winches? Second...and the most important talent of Andy's...was his ability to go into a dock, marine store, restaurant and most important..... BAR's....and within 15 minutes know 54 people, their boat name ..number of children...first born's name...(and the waitresses kept our glasses full of necessary medicines and chicken fingers piled on our plates.) I am prejudiced by saying I had a BLAST!!.. there were a few Rod Serling moments ..when for the 3rd consecutive day ...on everyone of Mark and my shifts...2:00 am in the morning with 2 hrs of our shift to go and there is ...nothing....no sea life...no stars....waves 4-8 feet....no radar contacts...and we were expecting to hear any moment...."you're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of Sight...and Sound...but of Mind...a journey into wondrous Seas...whose boundaries are that of imagination...next stop...the Twilight Zone". When the moon was out -- look 360 degrees around you....it looked like an episode of "Victory At Sea" . Only dislikes would be the difficulty using the head. Felt like WWII mission over Germany...getting back to base safely and being told "you missed the target" this time do it sitting down...which can be extremely painful. I would do this again only if I knew the right winches and had my beautiful wife Sharon at my side.
I was surprised at how difficult it was to do about anything on the boat when the boat is heeling over 15 - 20 degrees, going up and down in 10 foot waves, and going through the water at 7-8+knots. Once when I decided it was absolutely necessary for me to shower, I ended up sitting on the bench in the stall. The only way for me not to slide off the bench was to wedge with my feet against the wall on the other side. All of the shampoo, soap, etc. was on the floor of the shower because the plastic container adhered to the shelf had come undone. Trying to stay on the bench while grabbing what I needed on the floor without letting go of the shower head was exhausting. By the time I was done with the shower, dried off, and dressed I was all sweaty again. I wasn't sure it was all worth it. Some things you have less choice about like going to the bathroom. While we were on shift, we had a full harness with a crotch strap. It's basically a PFD (personal flotation device) with a harness built in so you can tether (attach) yourself to the boat so you won't go overboard. Inevitably I would try to pull my pants down to go to the bathroom and forget to undo my crotch strap. Once the strap was undone I would put the end of it in my mouth to prevent it from dropping into the toilet. Then with only one hand I would pull down my shorts (the other was holding onto a grab rail so I wouldn't slam against yet another counter or wall). I quickly learned that shorts with zippers and buttons were way too complicated for this task and quickly switched to all elastic waist shorts.
Given these descriptions, one would wonder why anyone would do what Mark and I are planning on doing for the next two years. I have to say that honestly I loved the passage from Virginia to Tortola. I didn't love the trip from minute to minute but I loved the idea that we took our boat across a big ocean. It was beautiful - the dark nights with the stars, the vastness of the water all around you, and the moment when you started to see the sun rise. It's incredibly peaceful out on the ocean, very calming. What a relief when the staff of the World Cruising Club took our lines and helped tie us up to the dock in Tortola. We made it, we were safe and everything was okay. But best of all, we now had a wonderful new place to explore. It makes it all worth it.