Friday, 7 March 2014

Back at it

       And we’re back at it again. Pounding the waves and carving the seas with our 11m washbasin we call home. Last Friday we made our first Caribbean passage in over a year. We “made it through” it is more accurate, actually. I don’t mean to be overly dramatic, because in hindsight it wasn’t so bad. Both Rodeo and the crew performed as well as could be expected for a shake down sail, but in the midst of the first 36 hours of the 3 day run I couldn’t help but wonder if we really have what it takes to pursue our goal of crossing the Atlantic. What we have been contemplating for the last year is getting across the pond to explore Europe. We would stage ourselves in St. Martin, where we could prep Rodeo: install missing pieces of equipment, replace others, rebed the leaky port light seals, reupholster salon cushions, refresh the tired wood interior and provision really, really well in well stocked European-quality supermarkets. We knew the crossing would be a challenging three weeks at sea, a non-stop run for better or worse, a test of our skills, as well as emotional and physical stamina. We psyched ourselves up for it. We came back to Grenada with resolve and a clear plan in our minds and our hearts. Those 36 hours, however, put things in perspective for us.
We slipped out of Mt.Hartman Bay, Grenada on a heading N at 8AM Thursday morning. Our sail plan took us several miles off shore, on a course due for Martinique. There we would meet up with our fine friends from "Sea You", Georges and Ria, who are also northbound for St.Martin and then Europe. For most of the passage we sailed up against head winds and a moderate chop on the beam, and winds of 20-22 Kts. Nothing too overwhelming, but the swell nudging Rodeo on the starboard side sent her into a swirling motion that gave my stomach a workout. Lying down below in the bunk during my off hours I pitied myself. It felt like my insides were doing the Hula. Gabe felt miserable, too. But we powered on, knowing that sea sickness doesn’t last forever. Eventually the body adopts and stops complaining. In the meantime I tried to lift my spirits by reading Steven Callahan’s “Adrift, 76 days lost at sea”. A fine read for a pre-atlantic crossing ball of nerves that I was. It cheered me up some, though, knowing that things could always be worse. While Steven Callahan kept me somber company Rodeo ripped ahead, healing on a starboard tack, cap rail in the water, sea spray everywhere. Rodeo is a very wet boat. We’re low to the water and the deck, even the cockpit sees a lot of it. I started to worry about her ability to get us across the Atlantic safely and comfortably. In that state of physical and mental discomfort I became discouraged. 
Every move made on board took laboring effort. Eating was an obligation we felt compelled to fulfill only because we find that food settles a sea sick stomach. I had prepared some meals in advance, to cut our time in the galley down to a minimum (any time spent down below, other than laying down, only increases our nausea). We were well prepared, but some trips below deck couldn’t be avoided, like going to the bathroom or to make a fresh pot of coffee. It was on one of those trips that I noticed a large pool of water sloshing about the forepeak sole. I remembered that we had fixed a Sunbrella curtain inside the anchor locker door, at the head of the bed, to keep spray from leaking through the locker doors. I climbed up the bunk to roll the curtain down and closed the anchor locker door. I was certain that it would stop the water from coming in, but that wasn’t the case. We later determined that the overhead locker in the v-berth was flooded, its contents soaked in salt water. Rodeo must be making water through a compromised fitting in the cap rail, and to suss out this problem will be time and money consuming. We cleaned out the lockers, mopped up the floor and brought all the wet items on deck to dry out. I wrung out the wet cloth I used to soak up the puddle and watched our ambitious plans drip overboard. They swiftly got absorbed by the very sea that brought us this far and tempted us with the idea in the first place. How ironic. 

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