Thursday, May 17, 2007

Happy Anniversary!


Luperon 1954.02N 7056.92W

Last week when we sat in Provo - Turks and Caicos, we realized that our anniversary was coming up. Nineteen years on May 14th. My how time flies. So where would we be on our anniversary this year, we wondered. Maybe Luperon.........where we would go out to eat and have a nice dinner in celebration.

As we’ve all learned by now it’s impossible to know where we’ll be exactly until we get there. As cruisers like to say, ‘our plans are written in jello.’ It turned out that we sat in Provo an extra day waiting for squally weather to pass, got to 6 hills and then the next day to Big Sandy where we waited another day for better wind direction. It all made sense at the time and we were making good decisions based on the information we had.

So on May 14, 2007 at 4:00 p.m. we were heading south on the Atlantic Ocean to Luperon. What a gorgeous sail - calm seas and just enough wind to go about 5 knots. We would be in Luperon 16 hours later and would have our anniversary dinner on the 15th. Close enough. For the first 10 hours we were enjoying our travel on the big sea. The phosphorescence and millions of stars were our companions, as well as 2 other cruising boats.

I don’t like to discuss too much in detail what we are looking forward to doing in a place until we get there. I find it dangerous to say, ‘I can’t wait until we get there so we laundry, find the internet, have a beer, go to a restaurant, see how beautiful the mountains are, etc. I didn’t always think this way. In fact, part of the fun of travel is anticipating what your destination will be like and what you’ll do once there.

With cruising the danger lies in letting your expectations take over. That’s when you get narrow vision and start making decisions that get you into trouble like - ‘let’s not reef, we won’t get there in time’ -or- ‘we have to steer 1650 no matter what the waves are doing, otherwise we’ll never get there’ - and so on. We try not to have narrow vision and I think we’re getting better at thinking about the many options at hand.

And so as we dodged several squalls by reading them on the radar then sailing off course far enough to go around them in the late evening of May 14th going into May 15th, we felt pretty good about our ability to deal with the situation at hand. We were even learning a new skill of using radar to track rain and play the game of sailing in another direction. Kinda fun in a way.

We never expected to get the ridiculously sustained high winds and confused seas that we did. But then things happen that way in life sometimes or in other words, shit happens. Indeed. The good news is that we did make good decisions during the whole ordeal. We did double reef the main and rolled in about half the jib before the 30 to 40 to 50 knots came. (Thankfully we did rig this system where even I could reel in the jenny using the winch. No way either of us could have pulled that sucker in by hand with these strong winds.) We (Scott really) did steer into, around, and through the high seas the best way possible. It felt at times that Enee would roll 900 degrees but we never got knocked down.

So did I ever think I was going to die? one might ask. I can honestly say, NO. (Well, actually when I steered for about 10 minutes while Scott put on dry clothes and got warmed up a little I was a bit worried that one of these 12 footers was going to roll us over. I need to be braver and steer more in these conditions. Hopefully that opportunity won’t happen too soon.) I was so caught up in the moment (which lasted about 10 hours) that the thought of not making it didn’t come into play. If something major had broken, that would have been a different story.

I learned that our boat is sturdy, we can make good decisions under stress (if the seas ever got to where we couldn’t handle them we would have hove-to or altered course to head west), and we can depend on each other even during these crazy times. Scott steered for about 8 hours straight (with quick pee breaks) and I was communications lady climbing over the companionway board to the radio below as we were directed in by the friendly people of Luperon. We had to close up the companionway so that water didn’t go below as we took many crashing waves into the cockpit. The cabin was amazingly dry below except for my comings and goings.

One of my radio communications was to Chris Parker, our ssb weatherman. At the beginning of his show when he asks, “Are there any emergency or priority traffic, come now...” I immediately said, “Enee Marie.” Chris acknowledged me and I reported that we were currently in consistent 40 knot winds with very high seas, not at all what he predicted, and did he know how long this ‘squall’ was going to last. He said it would continue through Thursday. It was Tuesday. Not what I wanted to hear!

Is the boat for sale? one might ask. NO. Do we want to have that experience again? NO. Will we be ready if it does happen again? I hope so. It might not seem so horrible the second time. Maybe.....

I did very much enjoy our dinner last night with our cruising friends who also had the same crazy sail in. I especially enjoyed sitting in a comfy rocking chair where I was in control of the rocking! Happy 19th. What will happen for our 20th I wonder.

The above photo is of one of may swallows here in Bahai Blanco Harbor near Luperon where we are anchored. We are enjoying being in the friendly confines of this beautiful harbor. We especially like these birds because they eat bugs and mosquitos. We've been able to keep the hatches open for the breeze and no pests yet!!!

NOTE: Thanks Leah for helping me to be able to make my own posts. I love your father even after 19 years but I also like to keep my own identity. You are a wizard with computers!


Cindy said... anniversary that's marked by an oncoming freighter, squalls and angry seas...not exactly cocktails and piano music, but definitely memorable.
I'm thankful that you both (and Enee Marie) are intact and ready to sail into your 20th year as Captain & Mate.


Anonymous said...

Your living the dream and I'm just dreaming about it.
Sounds like a great adventure.

Can you post your Luperon Lat/Long...I'm following you on google earth

In case your wondering Lake Michigan buoy says the current water temp 40.5 F. Hey it's warming up.

Terry in Mich

Brian & Deborah said...

Happy Anniversary