Sometime the hardest part of a journey is getting out of the harbor. There are so many reasons to stay. The weather isn't just right for where you want to go, there is one more bonfire party on the beach, one more project you could finish, the list is almost endless. I think what it really comes down to for most folks whether they will admit it or not, is just plain old being scared. It’s safe in the harbor. It’s easy. Who knows what will happen out there!
Just yesterday, the boat was ready to go. Everything was stowed where it should be, dinghy on deck. We had fuel, water, food, charts. The jack lines were strung, harnesses and tethers out. We were headed 60 miles to Cat Island. It’s a bit north and east of Georgetown, which might seem like a peculiar destination for those headed to the Caribbean, but we needed to get some momentum going and we expect to have a good angle to sail to Rum Cay when the wind shifts east later in the week.
It was 5 minutes to anchors up. I changed my mind. I couldn't do it, besides I woke up with an upset stomach. I would stay in Georgetown, leave the boat on a mooring and travel the world by plane. Why would a sane person do this anyway! I yelled out, “We’re not going! I can’t do it!”, then somehow gathered myself together and gave the order to raise the hook, saying we could always turn back if it was no good out there.
My heart was pounding, and I’m sure my blood pressure was up, but off we went. Soon the mainsail was up and we were bouncing our way out the cut at North Channel Rocks. The boat would rise up to the oncoming waves and then slam down, but it wasn't too bad. We’d been in worse. It actually looked like it would be ok sailing once we were able to turn out of the channel. Boy, did I feel sick, and it was all from nerves, but I was excited too and most of all very determined!
I was upset and nervous for the first 4 hours despite my best efforts at calming myself down. It didn't help that the seas were pretty sloppy and I still had a sore tummy. We set the full main and jib, engaged the wind vane and the Glass Slipper, good girl that she is, sailed herself with just an occasional touch to the helm. The wind was blowing 18-20 knots and we were sailing as close to the wind as we could manage. The boat was heeled a bit, and seas were slopping over the fore deck, splashing over the jib and running down the side decks. It was a day for ginger cookies and staying outside, at least for me. Coleen and Prince somehow managed to stay inside, only coming out to stand short watches.
At one point I heard a great splash, looked over to port and saw a huge bird fishing. He flew all around our boat for over an hour, be was just shifty enough to preclude us getting a picture. Just as we were nearing the point on Cat Island, I gave watch to Coleen so I could rest my eyes. A few minutes later our friends on Alley Cat, a Gemini 105, who were about 5 miles ahead called to say the wind had picked up to 22 and gusty. Just as he was saying it, we got hit by a strong gust that laid us over a bit, but I quickly jumped up, let out the main and went on deck to tuck in a couple of reefs. Yep, a little squall was brewing, but we escaped the rain.
After turning in to the Bight, we had 10 miles of motoring into the wind to reach the anchorage, but the seas were slight and motion decent. It was a race to get the hook down before sunset. We finally arrived at 7:30 p.m., set the hook and did a little dance on the foredeck to celebrate. As we were tidying up, our friends on Allegria, a Hanse 44, called to invite us for tea, cake and a chicken stew! I say that was a gift from God, as I was so tired, we were about to go to bed without dinner.
I’m happy that I powered through, despite my fear and that we are off on the next leg of our incredible adventure. We will stay here until the wind shifts and we can head to our next destination on our journey south – Rum Cay. I think it won’t be nearly as scary to leave this time, but stay tuned. Meanwhile, if anyone has any good tips for staying calm, send them my way……