Phillip and I will both eagerly, happily, readily admit it: We are 100% fair-weather sailors on our boat. While there are definitely longer, more intense passages we still want to make in our lifetime—sailing around Cape Horn, for example, sailing in the Indian Ocean, we’ve even thought about doing a leg of the Clipper Race—we probably will not do those in our boat and we will not do them because we like to bash around in rough conditions. Much like the Atlantic-crossings we have done, Phillip and I would undertake those because of the accomplishment it would signify. There is a lot of pride that comes into play when we both can say: “Yes, we’ve sailed across the Atlantic.” Or, when people ask, “How did you get to Cuba?” and we can say: “We sailed there.”
“Just the two of you?”
“Yes, just the two of us.”
I’ll be honest. That’s a pretty f&*king cool feeling. I love the look people sometimes give us in response. I feel like they are now thinking there are more things in the world possible than they knew, and that, if those two can do that, maybe I can do more than I imagined. I hope Phillip and I always inspire each other and other people to greater endeavors. When Phillip and I voluntarily embark on passages we know could likely become extremely arduous, we do it for that reason: to accomplish something rare, do something many others have not.
But, the only reward for a common day-hop where the conditions became gnarly is: You Survived! And your reward is simply a “Whew! We made it,” and an icy cocktail at the end of the day. I’ll be honest: I’m going to have a cocktail either way, so I’ll take it without the bash-about and potential broken-whatever.
Phillip and I would never take our boat out in 25-30 knot winds and big seas just for the sport of it. No, Ma’am. If Phillip and I find ourselves in that unfortunate situation, it’s because we didn’t know it was going to be like that out there and our weather prediction was off. (Because that never happens, right? ; ) Well, that was precisely what happened to us when we wrapped our magic dinghy ride to the Blue Hole at Devil’s-Hoffman Cay and sailed down to Chub Cay in the southern Berry Islands to meet up again with our friends Pat and Steve who have a wonderful rustic island home there. It was supposed to be an easy beam-reach day-sail.
Supposed to …
When we left Devil’s-Hoffman, Phillip and I were expecting winds of 15 out the east which would have put us on a nice beam reach heading south toward Chub Cay. And, recall this was going to be our first time sailing Plaintiff’s Rest—not motor-sailing as we did from Great Harbour to Devil’s-Hoffman, but pure sailing—in SIX MONTHS (Lord!) because we had just returned after hurricane season to pick up our cruising again in November, 2019.
We were so excited to get underway, in fact, and start sailing that day that we weighed anchor and set off in the pouring rain.
We didn’t care. We were going sailing! Our kind of sailing.
And, it definitely started out that way! See?
Nice 15-knot winds right on the beam. We were flying! Look at that. Making 7.3 speed with ease (and comfort). But, about an hour into our “perfect sail” the conditions started to deteriorate. Of course, the rain came back, in cold driving sheets.
But, far worse, the wind not only shifted—to where it was coming more out of the southwest, right on our nose as we tried to pivot onto a heading toward Chub Cay—they also picked up to 22-25 knots, which is just more than we prefer. Don’t get me wrong. Our baby girl is tough as nails, with all new wire rigging put on in 2016, her mast-step rebuilt stronger than ever before, and a super rugged but flexible balsa core throughout. She is fully capable of sailing in 25+ with ease, I just don’t personally want to see, hear, or feel her do it. The potential for breakage skyrockets and stresses me out. I’m not a shoe person but it would be like putting on a new pair of exquisite, shiny Louis Vitton heels and then running like mad through the streets. You are totally going to mess those shoes up. (And your ankles, too, in that scenario). Although I hear women do it … on a professional level!
But, there we were, three hours now away from turning back toward Devil’s-Hoffman, or two hours into the wind to get where we needed to keep our cruising momentum. What would you do?
We reefed up and kept trucking. It was kind of shocking to see how quickly the seas kicked up, though. I guess with no protection from the south, it doesn’t take long for the wind to impact the seas, because we were beating into some miniature monsters.
Every time we tacked thinking it would give us an advantage, I swear we were going backwards. Like we were on a sea treadmill and losing ground. I felt like the boat gave us a “Really guys?” each time we tacked and didn’t gain an inch.
In moments like those, I wish I could become this huge hand that comes down from the sky and just plucks her like a rubber bath duckie out of that mess and sets her gently down in the anchorage, still and safe, and on her hook.
Have any of you ever felt that way? You’re fine to bury the rails and beat to windward on anyone’s boat but your own? I wonder if I’m alone on this?
Although Phillip and I love sailing, we love cruising, we love being on our boat, there are just some sails I want to end, and, unfortunately, this was one for us. Our first sail of the 2019 cruising season, and we just wanted it to end. But, I must say the boat performed beautifully. She powered through, and that hellish beat was over in a few hours. I can’t tell you what a sigh of relief Phillip and I both let out when we turned into the inlet at Chub Cay and the seas finally loosened their grip.
I love that moment when the boat finally slows from a full-out run to a gentle gallop, then to an easy trot, and you know you’re going to make it. That day we (well, and by “we” I mean primarily Plaintiff’s Rest, with me and Phillip simply riding on her back) definitely earned our “Whew! We made it.” And, you remember what I said about the cocktail. Happy hour is not optional on Plaintiff’s Rest. : )
There she is! Anchored out safely (thank goodness!) behind Frazer’s Hog Cay after a rough beat.
Next up, we play around the southern Berries with some fantastic island friends and embark on our first lionfish spearing adventure. You never know, Captain Annie may still become a lion tamer yet!