Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Vicissitudes

For all that a sailing boat of one's own is the nonpareil way to see the world, there are certain allowances that must be made in the realm of what some would call practical considerations.

On a sailing boat, you don't always go just when you would want to.

Take our departure from Cuba. For days we eyed a 36-hour calm in the forecasts. It stretched from Cuba way down into the southern Caribbean. If we left before the calm arrived, we'd find ourselves bobbing in place on the ocean, with no beach handy for throwing around the old pill.

The longer we sail, the less stomach we have for motoring at sea. There was no way we would consider anything so redneck as motoring all of a day and a night and a day to pass through that calm.

So we waited. The calm came, and we went snorkeling and played baseball on the beach.

The calm passed, and we cleared out. But the light southeasterly that had been forecast declared itself as a fresh southerly. An absolute headwind.

So after we cleared out, and satisfied all the quaint formalities that are beloved by nations and officials around the world, with the extra bonuses when clearing out from Cuba of a springer spaniel to search our boat and a dog handler in mini skirt and black lacy stockings, we motored away from the dock, at just the moment we had promised to leave the country, and made it as far as the anchorage a half-mile away, safely out of view, where we anchored for the night.

Early morning found the headwinds gone. We did that gauche thing that we hate more and more to do, and motored for quite a long time to make some distance on that first nearly windless day. The forecast showed the wind coming up northerly, but quite fresh. A little error on the part of the model might even see us catching a bit of gale-force wind. So we were looking to be as far south as we could, where the wind wouldn't blow so hard for so long.

And all that was what we considered just to begin the five day (or so) trip to Panama.

Is it any wonder that when we start making plans to meet someone in some particular place, we start to get nervous? The one thing we trust in our sailing lives is our inability to predict our whereabouts at much into the future.

We are amateurs, after all. And I figure that's the amateur's right, to be a bit vague about schedule.

This post was sent via our high-frequency radio as we're far from internet range. Pictures to follow when we reach internet again. We can't respond to comments for now, though we do see them all!

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