In that moment, everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.
I’d forgotten the exhaustion. I’d forgotten the boat problems. I’d forgotten the wet sack of human who was still seasick in the cockpit.
But, let’s not romanticize too much. Sometimes this dance is scary as hell.
Sometimes, the music doesn’t lend itself to dancing. Sometime the rhythm is all wrong. Sometimes the boat is all wrong. Sometimes the wind is all wrong. Sometimes the crew is all wrong. Sometimes you’re just getting knocked around. Sometimes you’re stuck in the doldrums just drifting.
Sometimes things have to suck pretty hard before you really get to a place where you can appreciate the beauty of a sunrise on that level.
As it turned out, we didn’t make it to Florida. I had to make a judgement call to turn around. It was five more days to Florida or two back to Texas. My shipmate wasn’t getting any better and he wasn’t that healthy of a guy to begin with. So I had serious concerns about him. The boat certainly, while handling beautifully, had an ever growing list of problems which left me wondering what was going to break next and how major that would be. And I was simply exhausted.
So I pointed the compass west.
On the way back I learned that I could sail in my sleep. Dozing off at the helm, I kept one foot on the wheel and would adjust when I heard the jib sail start luffing. And so it went through the next night and into the next morning when we lost the wind and the heavy seas turned into flat water taking us nowhere. I started the motor up and continued the journey home. My shipmate finally recovered and was able to take the wheel and then I became the wet sack of human passed out in the cockpit for a few hours. Then just after midnight on Christmas Eve, with no lights, we docked at the marina just as the engine began to cough.
I grabbed my backpack and walked back to my boat and slept for the next 12 hours.
Sometimes things get messy, but you do everything you can to make it work. And when you do, you get a taste of something amazing. And yet, you still end up back where you started.
Pretty sure this is called experience.
Fast forward. Today. Things are still messy on the boat. Once I finish writing this daily entry they’re going to get messier. It’s a new day and the wind is still howling out of the north and it’s once again Christmastime. The boat is rocking as I write and the Christmas lights I have wrapped around the stripper pole are twinkling. [No, it’s not an actual stripper pole. That’s just the slang name because that’s what it looks like. It’s really called a compression post and sits directly underneath and supports the mast.] It’s a few years later from that story and I’m preparing for the same crossing to Florida, except this time it’s my boat and it’s time to move on.
But one thing I learned from that experience. Is if I’m going to be able to move forward from where I’ve been, I need to build a better boat.