Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Paranoia Passage

While we are sitting here making water today, I thought I would ramble on a bit about how things are going. First off, life is good. We have our up days and our down days but our down days are far better than any days on land. Down days? How can there possibly be down days on a boat? Well, we are human aren't we? If it were all sunshine stories and perfectly made drinks with umbrellas brought to your boat by flirting Island girls in bikinis we'd still complain eventually. "This has a little too much vermouth", or "I said don't fruit the beer", or "Could you girls make sure the sand is off your feet before you come aboard!". Humans will complain about everything eventually.

We are taking sea water and turning it into perfectly healthy fresh water and yet I sit here complaining of the noise from the pumps. I am secured to a mooring ball just 20 feet from an island in the Sun with a sand bar behind me that I can walk over, and I complain about the rolling motion in the harbor. It's natural for us to do this. We always find something. It's not just me either. People just complain no matter how nice they have it. It's a human flaw.

People who have done this island hopping for years will tell you not to go to a certain island or anchorage because of this or that. Something they disliked about a place once has prevented them from returning therefore, you will not like it either. Something they liked about a place became boring to them after ten visits, or didn't compare to the next Island over so they don't recommend it. Well, if you listen to them and skip said islands or anchorages you will not get to experience it for yourself and therefore have an overall shallower experience than the person you took advice from. So after a while the Bahamas becomes a place of a dozen particular harbors that people frequent and then they go home. It becomes a been there done that type of mentality and after a few years people get bored. I think that's why places like Georgetown exist. We're done exploring. We've seen it all. Let's go party. So now people race down to G-Town in November to get their spots, plan their
tournaments and enjoy the social aspects of cruising. This is cool if it's what makes you happy. If it's what you are looking for. We are just starting out so who know's what we will be like in a few years. I might be a G-Town volleyball star! I know. Too short. The point I'm making here - I am making one I think, is that you need to explore for yourselves. Take the advice and toss it. Leave the herd and do it yourselves. Sounds easy but it's not when you are newbies. You feel compelled to go with the flow.

This whole adventure is all new to us. We are cruising virgins. I haven't been a virgin in a while. Feels good. Those first thirty years were pretty rough though. Kidding. It didn't take that long. I was an altar boy after all. Kidding again. No, I really was an altar boy but nobody laid a hand on me, or lifted my smock. That whole couple of sentences were just wrong. I apologize. Wish Monsignior would. Seriously joking here. Moving on.

So do we make mistakes out here? Of course we do. So far they have been minor and we would like to keep it that way. Unsecured Jerry jugs of gasoline come to mind. Running the mooring line through a lifeline. Not strapping down the anchors in big waves. Having the water maker sample line squirt all over your dry clothes in the locker. Not reefing before you hit the big wind. Forgetting to bleed the fuel line after a filter change. Things like that. It's a learning process and after a while things just become natural. Take our water maker. Please! No, it's working fine, if half speed is fine. When we start it up we still read through the steps in the manual. In another couple weeks the manual will be hard to find. We will have it all down as routine. Experience. Know how. It all gets easier the longer you are out here. So how are us virgins going to find our way to the Caribbean with only ten months of cruising experience and live to tell about it?

It's a long way down to the Islands, and it's a treacherous and nail biting journey for me, but it's also an adventure. If we play it safe and don't rush it we will be fine. Timing is everything in this portion of the trip and we hope we get it right. Will we chicken out? Debra is too stubborn to change her mind. Me? I'm already freaking out, but I freak out over everything. I don't really freak out. I just get a little vocal about the possible number of things that could go wrong on this trip besides sinking to the deepest part of the Atlantic, never to be seen or heard from again. For some strange reason that concerns me more than being shredded on a reef. At least people can find you on the reef. "Hey look what's floating around all those beer bottles. Oh my God it's a dead old sailor. Kalik? He was drinking that shit? Poor old bastard. Check for a wallet."

I always figured I would go out doing something stupid and funny, not just disappearing forever. The kind of death where you wince at how they died, but then snicker a little too. Like Elvis. He died on the crapper and then fell into the bathtub, his ass in the air. Imagine finding that? Every time you heard people talk of the King you'd be thinking of the time he fell off the throne. Snicker. I toured Graceland with my daughter Nicole. Cool place. Smaller than I imagined. Pretty tacky too. The jungle room was kind of stupid. Fake grass and trees. Kind of lame. I asked if I could go upstairs and they said no. I wanted to see the bathroom. I think they knew why. He was one Hell of a talent though. Totally used and abused by his "friends". Felt bad for the King. He was just a kid with a boat load of talent and couldn't trust anyone after his Momma died. At least he went out with a laugh.
This is all rumor of course. Not sure if his ass was in the air or not.

Sinking to the bottom of the Mona passage is not the way I want to go out. Boring. No body. No story. No snicker. There are more funnier ways to die in this boating life. Once I was Working in the bottom of the fridge hanging upside down and released the refrigerant. Suffocating with my feet sticking up out of the fridge would have been horrible, but funny. Looking at the engine while under way and having my sunglasses on a croakie fall into the belt and pull my face into it. Cringe. Snicker. Unplugging the cord from the Honda Generator on a wet deck and getting zapped enough to fall into the water in front of a shark. The shark bites me but my life jacket inflates, choking the shark and we both wash up on shore. Me with my skinny legs sticking out of it's mouth. Sad but funny. I am drift snorkeling when a French Canadian Catamaran full of laughing bikini clad women run over the top of me. They pull me aboard and nurse me to consciousness. I smile like I'm in heaven and th
ey feed me French wine an cheese, giggling in a language I don't understand while they rinse off the saltwater from each other. I ask to be rinsed off as well and then promptly die from an allergic reaction to the tannin's in French wine. Snicker.

I could go on but - OK, one more. I go to the top of the mast in rolling seas to fix a wrapped roller furler. I get to the top and tell Deb to give me some slack. She gives me way too much slack. I slip and fall. The halyard stops me but the force I put on it breakes the shieve and jams the halyard with me about a thrid of the way down. I fatally smack my head on the mast and die, upside down. The halyard is jammed and I'm stuck up there. Deb has to motor one hundred miles in rolling seas to a marina with my head gonging off the mast. The villagers all rush to the marina because of the gonging and watch in horror as I swing out, then in and ring the mast while she motors in. One by one they start snickering.

So yes, I'm getting a tad nervous about the rest of the adventure coming up. It's not because I'm afraid of death. OK, I'm afraid of death. But, I'm very afraid of a boring death. The whole reason we are out here is to avoid a boring death. Death by TV. Death by Lazy Boy. Death by Candy Crush or solitaire. Death by work. Death by boredom. Death by fear of everything because of the "news". My Mom once told me to not go somewhere because people will stab you. "Why would they stab me?" Cause its the city. They stab. "They have guns now Mom. They don't even have to get out of the car." Oh my God! Stay here. I have beers in the fridge. I'll make you a sandwich. I've got liverwurst on rye."

I've been sailing a long time. I have over 5,000 miles under the keel in just the last few years. Yet, I still fear the unknown. I long for it, yet I fear it. It's exciting and yet it's scary. People do it all the time. Most make it. Some don't. I'm smart enough to know the limitations of myself and my boat. I think we can do this, but seriously I'd be bullshitting you if I told you I wasn't a bit scared. It's the unknown that bothers me. We both have great skills at boat handling. We are very good sailors. We are smart sailors. We are safe sailors. I'm scared because I know shit happens. We've handled shit before and made out OK. Sometimes it's a roll of the dice. Your number might be on the table or not. That's just life and something we have to deal with.

If we make it through the Mona Passage without suffering a horribly boring death I'm going to get really really happy in some port in Puerto Rico. Hopefully the cab driver will be legit and not a kidnapper holding me for ransom. My family wouldn't pay. "He was kind of a prick.", my Dad would say. " He thought he was all that with the sailing and cruising stuff." "I bet they stabbed him.", my Mom would say. "He had a really big head. I think he was adopted", sisters of course.

I'm probably stressing over a lot of stuff for no reason but I can't help it. That's how I am. I was raised that way. "Don't go in THAT neighborhood. Don't talk to THOSE people. Get inside before it gets dark. Stay close to home. Look both ways before you ride that bike out the driveway! I never listened to any of it. Should have listened to the last one. Boy meets Chrysler didn't work out so well. For the most part I was a well traveled kid on my bike. I went everywhere I could get to and back by the end of the day. To this day I am really surprised I didn't end up on a milk carton. The picture would have to be so small to accommodate my head that no one would have recognized me. So even though I was a bit paranoid of new places and was taught that home is the only safe place to be, I took off anyway. Things were a little looser back then and I found myself exploring air bases in Jeeps, getting rides in a Piper Cub towing gliders, standing above Niagara falls, playing Frisbee on Goat Island with people from other countries, etc. I was scared to be in some of those places but I was excited to be exploring them for the first time. The really sad part of my young adventures was the fact that I could not tell anyone about them. Everyone thought I was on the next block over at a friends house, not twenty miles away. Didn't want to get my ass beat or yelled at so I kept my adventures all to myself.

So here I am doing the same thing. Exploring new places with the same excitement and the same paranoia only this time I have someone to tell my stories to.

Big steps ahead. Thanks for reading. If I perish in a boring fashion, please feel free to exaggerate the circumstances of my demise.

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