August 14, 2018
The movie title “Three men and a Baby” just entered my head as I sit down to share the journey north from Cape Canaveral. I’ll explain – give it a sit for a bit, and you’ll quickly understand.
In the last post, I wrote about Erik’s journey from Ft. Lauderdale to Cape Canaveral, where he arrived after 23 hours and at 8a on Monday. Meanwhile, Rodney and I took off for the airport at 3:45a on Monday for our flight to Savannah. It was a pretty easy trip (although Rodney hates to fly – I’m used it, and for much longer periods of time.)
Since I bought non-refundable tickets (pro-tip: don’t do that when your sail plans could change dramatically like this one did), we had to keep the flight to Savannah, so I got us a one-way rental car and drove the 4+ hours down to Florida. It was a pleasant trip and we made two stops along the way. First was to a great taco place outside Jax and the second was around the corner from there to a cigar shop.
After we arrived at the boat, I quickly left to do the provisioning for the rest of the trip. Not adequately judging the amount of time it would take to stock a boat with even basic supplies, I ran out of time and we had to have our new crew member, Darrin, take an Uber from Orlando. That was expensive OMG.
In advance, we each agreed we would not drink on shift, and wouldn’t be partying afterward either. But we are all adults and I bought just enough beer so that we could each enjoy one (or two tops) after our daytime shift, but that’s it. This would not be a party boat. Instead, we took the crew out for a final land-night of shots and cocktails. (I really suck at taking pictures – I have to work on that.)
After dinner we headed back to the boat for a final night of uninterrupted sleep. However, we all were pretty restless and anxious and rose before sunrise – and I’m glad and mad that I did. Glad because it was a beautiful morning. Mad because the freaking no-see-ums came out and ate me alive. Seriously, by Wednesday mid-afternoon, I was in serious pain from the inflammation and we had a near empty tube of Cortaid. You think you plan for every contingency, but then realize you don’t have what you need and when you’re offshore, you can’t just pull over at the nearest CVS to pick up some antihistamine.
After we finally got under way, we settled into the routines. My shift wasn’t until 3p so I went into the galley and started prepping lunch. About 3 hours into the sail, I started feeling nauseous and by dinner, I was really feeling tight. As the sun set and I started thinking about my first night sail (with Erik – he would be by my side the whole time), I started panicking. Not full on panic attack, but I was feeling anxiety.
Around 11:30p, Rodney came down from the helm advising us that we had weather approaching. I felt the wind shift cooler and the gusts starting to whip. My shift was to begin at 12a and as Rodney went below to don his foulies, my nausea, anxiety, and fatigue kicked in. I was panicking.
Erik did his best (and then some) to comfort me as the outer ridge of the storm hit us, but I was at a place where I couldn’t really talk anymore – just frozen to the spot I was in. Erik, Darrin, and Rodney stayed on shift as a team during this storm – which was a pretty amazing storm or so they tell me.
As we start to edit our film from the trip, you can be sure they will include snips from this electrical storm. There was very little rain – it was all lightning strikes around the boat. At that point, I was huddled in fetal position in my cabin (sigh, I hate admitting it, but I took a Calms-Forte pill to chill me out ever so slightly). Hence the whole “Three Men and a Baby” reference.
Meanwhile, on the bridge, I could hear the boys screaming in delight about how freaking cool it all was. They could smell and feel the heat from the strikes. The sky lit up brighter than a room full of LEDs.
Missing that electrical storm is a huge regret for me. Those who know me, know that I love thunder and lightning and often go outside without cover to watch and feel the storms here in the south. The fact I missed it has me mad to this day.
By 2a on Wednesday morning, the storm had passed and Erik came off shift to rest until his next one at 6a. Darrin had the helm.
By 5a, I gave up trying to sleep and put my PFD on and went up to keep Darrin company. The stars were out and they were so close and so bright I felt I could reach out with my fingers and touch one. At this point, we were about 80nm off the coast and the air is clear. Seeing the stars relaxed me. Made me feel less alone out there at sea.
I mentioned in an earlier blog post that I’m afraid of water. After a few mishaps in the past couple years, I grew to fear large bodies of water. Facing this fear in the first 24 hours was hard. But as I looked up at the sky, took in deep cleansing breaths of fresh ocean air, and listened to the quiet lapping of water splashing against the hulls, I felt something else entirely: peace.
My fear may come back, in fact, I would be surprised if it didn’t. Each experience I am having, as a novice sailor, on a boat that is our home, either during the day or during the night, is a series of firsts. And with each first experience, I’m growing as a person, a woman, and a wife. And the one thing I choose to take away from this first experience is to face your fear, not cower from it, and embrace the adventure.