As of right now, we’re still on the Bay. But departure day nears. At least that’s the plan.
It’s all happening so fast. Just over 2 weeks ago, our lives were “business as usual.” Work (practicing law) during the week; sailing on weekends from our base in Annapolis; and living for vacations, most of which involve the islands and many of which include sailing.
Nearly 15 years and 3 boats ago, we came up with a 5-year plan that would have had us taking a year off and going cruising to the Bahamas on the Sabre 34 sailboat we’d just bought. (For those not in-the-know, “cruising” in this context has nothing to do with cruise ships and The Love Boat, but refers to sailing our boat to exotic locations so we can do the inevitable repairs there.) We’d have gone in 2004. But for various reasons, we abandoned the plan and put it off until, perhaps, retirement.
Then a few weeks ago I saw a chink of light in the armature that was our life, and drove a wedge into it, opening it wide. On a Thursday night in September, I sent Rick an email: “Let’s discuss a sabbatical tonight. I know it’s kind of sudden, but what if we went cruising this year?…” By Friday morning, I’d talked to my mentor, another partner whose opinion I value, and my managing partner. By Friday night, it was all systems GO.
And by “GO” I mean feverish, hurried preparation. In order to get our boat Calypso, and ourselves, ready to head south before the weather here turns cooler-than-comfortable, and in order to accomodate our already-paid-for travels, Rick will be taking the first leg of the trip without me. Our goal is to have him and crew leave Annapolis during Sailboat Show weekend (mid-October), and hopefully getting as far as Charleston. In mid-November, we hope to get down to Florida and do final provisioning and preparation, with a jump across to the Bahamas in early December. And someday, we’ll have to come back. That’s the plan right now, anyway.
While I’ll be working full-time through November 1, Rick is making a full-time job of prepping. Even so, I am an inveterate list-maker, and my spreadsheet now stretches to 7 pages, not including the sticky-notes plastered around our bedroom which are the results of my semi-legible scribblings in the middle of the night. And that doesn’t even touch provisioning.
Amazon Prime is getting a workout from us — there is very little we can’t buy, and get delivered quickly — on that miraculous portal of all things necessary and desirable. Lightweight folding chairs for the beach? Got ’em. A 1000-count bucket of meclizine? You betcha. An extra supply of underwear, in case we’re not near a laundromat for a while? Amazon has it.
Of course, that doesn’t even include the boat stuff. The West Marine and Fawcett’s staffers probably give each other high-fives when they see Rick coming. While Calypso was well-equipped when we bought her the day before Hurricane Irene hit in 2011, and had traveled far, updating and upgrading was required for this adventure. We’re upgrading the ground tackle (getting a Rocna anchor) and dinghy, adding new electronics, and adding some other modest improvements that will enhance our lives. She has undergone check-ups by our diesel mechanic (Yes, we have a diesel mechanic, and he’s a good one who actually returns calls. For the right price, we’ll share his name with you) and marine electrician, and will receive minor repairs. At the same, we have neither the time, the budget, nor the will to get some nice-to-have-but-not-strictly-required stuff like davits, solar panels or wind generators, cockpit enclosures, or water makers. We’re hoping that not having much time means that we won’t have over-analyzed.
We’re also grateful to our friends who’ve gone before us, especially Skip and Harriet of Moondance, who’ve cruised from Annapolis to the Bahamas 3 times on their Sabre 38, and made it most of the way on their fourth trip, only to end up permanently settling in Vero Beach, Florida. They sold their boat the day before we made our decision, and are proving more than generous with their advice, time and gear.
That’s where things stand right now. You’ll notice I keep using the words “plan” and “hope.” As with all things sailing-related and weather-dependent, Nature has a good laugh at those of us who dare think that “plans” are anything more than wishes that may or may not be granted. Stay tuned.