Look who's reading A Sail of Two Idiots! Let's see all you Idiot fans! Um, you know what I mean.

Send in those photos and become part of the Idiot family.

Solo Sailing

[Excerpt from Chapter 34, Solo Sailor in Grenada]

We made it to Grenada! We had somehow managed to sail our embarrassingly inexperienced selves 1,500 miles from Miami (well, as the crow flies). While this was very exciting, we had some decisions to make. We had been getting a bit worried about our finances and, to be honest, were getting a bit sick of each other (I might have mentioned this once or twice before). We had been on the boat now for over 1 ½ years. Other than a week-long road trip in the Dominican Republic and a short stint with family in Tortola, we had spent every single night on board our floating chariot and were starting to feel a little...confined.
Michael had kept in touch with the developer he had worked for previously (LESSON 11 about your bridges!) and discovered that the guy was onto another project in Mexico and was interested in using Michael for a limited time on the project. It sounded perfect. Michael would spend hurricane season in Mexico making money, and I’d stay on Jacumba maintaining her and trying to get her sold...
And He’s Gone
Off to Mexico with Michael—right at the beginning of our second hurricane season (June 1).

Commentary on Being Alone: I know a lot of women are asking right now— you stayed on the boat by yourself for months?! Weren’t you scared? I can’t tell you how many people asked me that. Well, the answer was no, I wasn’t scared. From a safety and loneliness standpoint, I knew people in the harbor (the same people we had been tag-teaming with all the way down the Caribbean) and knew more who were coming, plus I was meeting new boaters every day. If anything, I was worried about being inundated by well-intentioned folks checking on me. I like being alone. From a boat standpoint, who knew the boat better? I had been doing most of the same tasks Michael had, at least once, plus my own, and I knew I could ask for help if needed. And crime wasn’t a worry where the boat was anchored.

I wasn’t scared; I was excited. Just me and a 37-foot catamaran. Who would have imagined it? Well, even we wouldn’t have, but both of us were confident in my abilities and never questioned the situation. I would miss Michael’s cooking though (and maybe even him a little bit).

You may feel differently, but you don’t know how to sail yet! Your confidence level might change and so will your mind. Or maybe you’ll never have to or feel the need to separate, so this will be a moot issue. For us, this separation was a good thing. End of commentary.

I lasted exactly four days in Mt. Hartman Bay before I decided to move. There was no wind! At all! Using the engines just to keep the freezer, lights, and laptop running would take all our diesel! Plus, without wind it was hot. Really hot. Oy! Plus, it wasn’t that close to Prickly, and there was a big nasty hill to get there, or anywhere.

Decision made, I was now going to have to lift the anchor, putter over to Prickly Bay, and drop the anchor again by myself. This was a first, although I did know how to do it. So I practiced. Luckily there was no one on the few boats in the harbor to watch (and laugh or critique), so I did it as many times as I felt necessary. It wasn’t a big deal, except that I had a hard time with the clasp on the bridle (it was difficult to push in with my puny fingers), plus it was slippery (or sharp from barnacles) and I’d often drop the whole contraption in the water and have to fish it back out.

I also realized that trying to position the boat without being able to see the anchor chain was going to be an issue. Until you put the bridle on and after you’ve taken it off, the anchor chain can go under the hulls and scratch them. That’s why you usually have one person at the anchor signaling or yelling back to the captain where the chain is at all times.

And if that wasn’t enough, I’d be standing at the wheel (in the cockpit) 30 feet away from the anchor (which was at the bow), so I’d have to find the perfect place to set the anchor and then stop the boat (that is, put it in neutral) and run or walk forward to drop the anchor. No problem unless a current picked me up or a wind gust shoved me back. I’d then have to run back to the wheel and reposition myself, all the while hoping I didn’t run into any other boats . . . or the shore. Gulp. Well, there wasn’t any wind or strong current, so I decided I was ready to go for it. Anchors aweigh!

I raised anchor, motored west for 20 minutes to Prickly, stopped the boat, calmly walked up to the bow, dropped the anchor, calmly walked back to the wheel like the proud single-handing captain I was, gunned the engines in reverse to make sure the anchor was in, went below, and then did an Irish jig and giggled like a little schoolgirl. I had done it. Give me a high five!

About mid-July, guess who decided to come back for some more abuse . . . I mean fun? Chuck and Jen, the couple who decided to have a baby instead of buying a boat. The plan was for us to sail together to Carriacou (50 miles northeasterly), where they had rented a villa. They had been married on Carriacou and were back to celebrate their anniversary. I’d play third wheel and mooch off the villa’s extra bedroom. We’d be there for two weeks, enjoying Paradise Beach, Sandy Island, and other spots that Jen knew on the island. I knew I was ready.

Of course, Jen and Chuck brought the requisite good weather, and we had a great sail. Once there, I definitely enjoyed some much needed time away from Jacumba.

But three days into my vacation from my vacation, I received word that a buyer was not only interested in Jacumba but was on a charter boat in Prickly Bay, Grenada ready to look at it. AACK!

There was no way I would ask Chuck and Jen to shorten their trip, so I decided to sail back by myself; they could take a ferry back to Grenada for their flight later. Sail by myself! I know—I get goose bumps just thinking about it again. I wanted to do it. I had already proven so much to myself during this trip. But to accomplish a sail by myself would be the icing on the cake.

We all got up early and Chuck came out to the boat with me. He helped hoist the mainsail (it would have taken me forever; it’s heavy!) and raise the anchor, and then had a local bring him back to shore. I waved good-bye and off I went. Alone!

There wasn’t much wind, so I had to motorsail, but I did have the excitement of several nasty squalls. The islands disappeared and my radar went black. Since I couldn’t see a thing around me, I figured it was the perfect time to wash down the boat (it had to look good for the potential buyer). Friends still make fun of me for this.
Even though I wasn’t supposed to give a tour of Jacumba until the following day, I was worried that the buyer would catch me off guard, and I wanted the boat to look its best. I set the autopilot and used the downpours and Simple Green to scrub the boat (watching for any surprises emerging from the monsoon). By the time the skies started clearing, Jacumba was looking great!
Eight hours later, I was outside Prickly Bay. Wahoo! I turned into the wind, dropped the mainsail (which is much easier going down than up), and motored into the anchorage. I was touched when two fellow boaters came out concerned, knowing that I wasn’t supposed to be back so quickly—and that I had come back alone.

I yelled that all was okay, and they yelled back that they could help me anchor if I wanted. No! I wanted to finish it up by myself—and did. Yes! I feel another jig coming on.

Still high from my achievement and now settled in again, I was not the least bit surprised when my prospective buyers pulled up in their dinghy. Good thing I had cleaned (and you laughed at me!). The family of four didn’t come on board; they just wanted to introduce themselves, but I was still glad I was ready.  It turns out that a reef had sunk their relatively new boat near Antigua and they wanted another one just like it. Our boat was the same make but a little smaller (and older) than what they had lost, but they still wanted to take a look

They really liked Jacumba and were a lot of fun, but they had one other boat to look at in Georgia (an exact replica of the one they lost). That was the boat they purchased, as it turned out. While sad about this, I was also slightly relieved. What if the boat had sold? We hadn’t yet decided where we were going!


Post a Comment

More Excerpts To Come!

So stay tuned...