The cure for get-there-itis
09 June 2021
There is a difference between a delivery and a cruise. I had forgotten about that when we sailed from Great Guana Cay, Bahamas to Beaufort, North Carolina.
Just to recap, we spent the past three years in French Polynesia. Loved it but due to Covid, couldn't proceed to New Zealand. We made the decision to ship Uproar from Tahiti to Fort Lauderdale where we had some choices for cruising grounds. When Uproar arrived, we sailed to the Bahamas, mid-March. Hurricane season starts July 1 (according to our insurance). We had to either sail to the Caribbean or back to the US for hurricane season. We decided to sail back to the US, haul Uproar and live at the River Retreat in Wisconsin for the entire summer.
This is our first long-term break from six years of continuous cruising. Can't wait to spend some time with family and friends and be dirt dwellers again for a bit.
The “can't wait” part became the problem. We were thinking about just getting to NC where the fun would begin. I had to fly back to Fort Lauderdale to retrieve our car, drive back to Beaufort, unrig sails, canvas, remove food and shut down the systems for storage. We would then have Uproar hauled in a local yard for the summer and drive back to Wisconsin.
But first we had to sail 500 miles from Bahamas to Beaufort. Uproar normally makes 150 miles/day on passages. At least that's what we plan for. But we usually exceed the 150 miles/day making it possible to get to Beaufort in three, plus days. No problem, we would leave in the morning and have three days plus eight hours of daylight to arrive in Beaufort.
Winds leaving the Bahamas were light but consistent. Uproar hopped right up to over six knots, our target speed. We knew from weather reports we would hit lighter winds but had a tank full of diesel to get us through the flat spots. First 24 hours, we made exactly 150 miles....then the wind died. No problem, we just started up the trusty Yanmar diesel.
Like most vehicles, fuel economy varies a lot with speed. We can easily motor in flat seas at five knots, the speed of a lawn tractor, and consume only 10 mpg. That doesn't sound great but keep in mind, we are sailing a 23,000 pound boat. A powerboat our size would cruise at 25 knots but consume at least three gallons per mile!
Five knots would still leave us short of our six, plus knots goal. We upped the throttle and watched the fuel gauge. Day two we made only 145 miles but consumed about 1/3 of our 40 gallons. I did a lot of mental math to determine if we could make it before dark of day four. I had actually done these calculations throughout our trip. And the wind stayed light. Oh, I forgot to mention, I had a flight the morning of day five to Fort Lauderdale, two day drive back to Beaufort and an appointment to haul Uproar the next afternoon. Then two day drive back to WI. And I had an eye doctor appointment the day after arriving in Wisconsin.
At dawn of day three, it dawned on me that the deadline we had arbitrarily set for ourselves and the hectic schedule following was the antithesis of what our cruising lifestyle was all about. This would be our last sail on Uproar for four months. And we were treating it as cough medicine instead of wine. Lisa and I had a quick discussion about this and agreed, we were charging hard for absolutely no rational reason. The stress of get-there-itis was ruining the ride. Here we were on our boat, sailing on a slightly rolly, beautiful sea. We were stressing about the trip! No good!
We made the decision to just let the wind take us and spend an extra day getting to Beaufort. The tension of our haste melted away. We did calculate just how fast or slow we needed to sail to get there in the morning of day four, after sunrise. Now the task was to slow down. We slowed down the boat and our attitude. Uproar motored through the Beaufort Pass around 7:00 am. We were all smiles and relaxed from our cruise on a gentle ocean. The task will be to continue that attitude with our more complicated lives ashore. Uproar and the sea have taught us lessons we embrace and treasure.