Would YOU cross an ocean? Ever? On a boat? If you were a sailor and had a boat? Or even if you didn't, but perhaps had friends who had one and then received an invite? Would YOU do it?
Believe me, we never had plans to do so, but somehow fate, and friends (and perhaps The Universe
) intervened. You can read all about how our Adventure, that wasn't even part of a planned Adventure, began HERE
What follows will be a Four Part Series of Blogs. Where we give you the honest nitty gritty scoop of what life was like as we set a record breaking passage (more on that later), Published as Follows:
Part 1: A Personal Passaging Perspective
Part 2: Provisioning and Preparing
Part 3: Participating and Playing while Passaging
We're looking forward to sharing our story with you. Mostly we're looking forward to your comments (hint, hint!)
Part 1: A Personal Passaging Perspective
The sun is slowly rising in the pale morning skies, the haze hiding any hope of seeing the would be bright blues overhead. Everything is obscured by a beige shade of dusty-ness. Minute by minute and mile by mile, we are passaging ahead and away from it. It's early in my watch and I'm sitting comfortably on the Capt'N's seat, scanning the horizon around me and sipping my morning cup of coffee.
I enjoy it up here and I marvel at just how well I can see from this vantage point. I had always thought that the driving stations from the Catamaran might be uncomfortable, not made for a short gal like me! But this past week I've found it's just the opposite, the view all around me is quite spectacular. I gaze around and see nothing but an endless vastness of deep blue waters below me, waters that seem to touch the dust filled skies on the horizon, and fade away into an endless marriage water and sky singing the Saharan Blues.
As has been the norm for the past few days, I see no signs of concern, anywhere. I blink, refocus my eyes, and scan the horizon again. Even though the waves are small, it's easy to miss something that might endanger us. I see nothing on my second sweep. Satisfied, I look down at the chartplotter, checking for any AIS contacts. With none around, I take another sip of my coffee, realize my cup is empty, and place it in the cup holder, conveniently located on the dash. Satisfied we're safe, my mind wanders to my being here and doing something I never thought I'd be doing. Crossing an Ocean!
Many many moons ago the thought of crossing an ocean had never even entered my mind. There was a time when I didn't know how to sail, unaware that a lifestyle such as this even existed. Then I met Dave, who shared a similar dream of exploring this world we live in, and he had The How: A Boat! Who knew then that we'd be where we are today: Crossing an Ocean!
"Want another coffee?" asked Dave, interrupting my dreaming.
"Sure, I'd love one" I replied, handing him my empty cup, and returning to my reveries, great memories of our time sailing around the Caribbean.
Ah the beautiful Caribbean waters.
They were so familiar to me now. I thought back longingly to all the islands we'd sailed to and from. And I remember the many times I'd get asked:
"Ever think of sailing across the Atlantic?" as talk with fellow cruisers around the cockpit revealed everyone's plans, some would venture further: "Or head to Panama, cross the Pacific?"
Crossing an Ocean! Such Big Words. We live on a planet that's over 75% water. Our lands are quite minuscule compared to the big bodies of water that surround us. Many people circumnavigate; some to get to the other side. To explore new places, have new adventures, visit different lands. Others cross for the simple thrill of the crossing.
I smiled as I remembered how earlier that day Sheryl had told us that there was quite a large group of British Yachties that put a TransAtlantic crossing on their Bucket List, just to have the passage under the belt of their RED PANTS! Who Knew?
So what was I really doing sitting here in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean when I never ever wanted to do such a thing? Was it Fear? The ultimate driving force of much (in)action. The Fear of the What If's are huge!! What if... weather! What if? Something Goes Wrong? The worst case scenario always rears its fearsome ugly head, and roars. For some it's too loud and pfft... there goes the dream. For others, fear can be the adrenaline that is needed to drive the adventure. For Me? It wasn't the fear, I just didn't, at the moment, have any desire to get to the other side, or have the notch under my belt!
So to answer the questions as to whether I would want to cross an Ocean, I would always shake my head in the negative, and reply, quite honestly: "Nope, not me, not right now. I have absolutely no desire to cross an Ocean."
A long time ago I read somewhere that it is best when thinking or speaking, to avoid the use of the word "no". The negative state of words or thoughts. The Universe
, always seeking to deliver, doesn't understand the word no, and as such, affirmations should always be thought, and spoken in the positive. For example, you can say to someone as they're heading out the door to the store: "Don't forget to get the eggs." And what happens? They come back, having forgotten to get the eggs. A better way to talk would be: "Please remember to get the eggs". It's a much better, more positive way, to BE. Try it, see what happens!
So back to vehemently stating that nope, I have absolutely no desire to cross an Ocean. Gee, I wonder what The Universe
heard? Cross. An. Ocean. And immediately seeked to deliver. Which is how The Universe
was seeing me now, probably very proud, I would say. And which is how I was feeling. Rather darn proud of myself. Something in me had surfaced, a desire that I didn't even know I had. Who knew?
Coming back to land, er, sea... I scanned the horizon, first one way and then the other, completing a grid-like pattern. And then did it again, a 3rd time. Overkill? Perhaps, but I'd rather be sure, than not. I loved being on the water, gazing outwards at the blue waters, feeling the air. There was a freedom in all of it. I zoomed in and out on the chartplotter, confirming we were on course, and that there were no contacts around. I checked the time, and noted I had another two hours to go on my watch.
Ah, watches! With a crew of 6 onboard, we had split ourselves into groups of two, with four hour watches apiece. Paul & Sheryl, along with Dave and I, were experienced monohull sailors and familiar with the concept of long(er) term cruising, passaging and watches, although of the four, I was the only one who had not crossed an ocean. Neither had the other two crew members, Craig and Dan, who were relative newbies and looking for experience.
We had debated doing a revolving-dog-watch type of system where the hours would be uneven, thus allowing everyone to experience a different time-of-day watch. We quickly realized that the fixed four hour watches per group suited everyone better. Sheryl commented that in her experience, the body adapts adapts quicker to a consistent routine.
We also found that our watch times worked perfectly with our respective duties. Dave was responsible for the genset and the watermaker so we got the 8 a.m. to noon (and the 8 p.m. to midnight) watch. Sheryl and Dan had the noon to 4 p.m. and given they were both night-owls, they really didn't mind the midnight to 4 a.m. watch. The added benefit to these watch times was that they allowed both Sheryl and I to join forces in the management of the galley during the day, and allowed Paul and Dave to coordinate the daily routine maintenance, nicknamed PPFT (more on that, later!). With that said, Paul and Craig were left to take the of 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. (and same time in the p.m.)
So this! This was my morning watch. A time where I found myself solely and uniquely responsible for this boat. And in some small way, the safety of the crew. Responsible for keeping us on course, monitoring our sails, watching for sights and listening for sounds that don't belong and might signal danger.
"Thanks hun" I said to Dave, as he handed me my coffee. He disappeared back below to check the systems. Dave would run the generator for approx 1.5 to two hours ensuring the batteries were topped up, charging our electronics, etc. At the same time, he would run the watermaker. The idea was to make what the 6 of us used (approx 50 gallons), per day. Having the water tanks as empty as possible would ensure that we would not be "slowed down" by the added weight of all that water.
So all this kept Dave busy operating and checking all systems, during every watch, every day. And the reason I found myself alone at the helm at this very moment. I took a sip of the deliciously hot coffee and reflected on how our shared experiences had brought us to this moment.
Dave has been a sailor since he could talk or was a tween, and if there's one thing I'm sure of, is that he's got salty blood pulsing through his veins. He joined the Navy and crossed the Ocean on Naval Destroyers where he experienced all sorts of excitement, in all sorts of conditions. And all that experience earned him the right of Managing our Safety during this passage.
And as for me? My experience was six years in the making with my longest non-stop passage thus far? Three days and two nights.
Dave came out and joined me on the helm, "Power and Water done" he stated, and leaned back into the seat, settling in. "Great! I think I'll leave you to it and tackle the chores." I said as I updated him on our status, and then he shooed me away, happy in his happy place.
With everyone asleep and the salon completely empty, the morning watch was the perfect time to get some chores crossed off the chore list. This may be a boat, but just like a home, there were housekeeping duties to tend to.
Countertops got cleared and cleaned, galley cupboards and fridge shelves restocked, garbage collected, and floors washed.
Sheryl emerged from her cabin, and with a yawn and eager smile she set about to making some tea. It wasn't long before Dan emerged from his cabin as well. There were "Good Morning's" all around, to which we laughingly replied "Good Afternoon!"
After their breakfast, they donned their PFD's and joined us outside. Wearing PFD's when outside was The Rule Not To Break, and the Second Rule Not to Break? The Passing of The Torches.
Ah, The Torches, the nickname Dave came up with for the Personal Epirbs that were onboard. As we only had two, they were relegated to the two people on watch, and religiously passed from the old watch to the new one, especially important during the night hours.
We narrated the summary of the morning activities (things we'd seen, things we'd done, and anything that needed watching out for). And then Dave handed his Torch over. And as I handed mine over, I said with a wink, "I am relieved! To be relieved!"
And with that we headed in for some Lunch. All that fresh air sure made us hungry.... But that's the next story.
See you next watch!