In March I went to Charleston to take the American Sailing Association's Sailing 101 class. I passed the test but the most important thing I learned is that I was in no way ready to sail to the Keys. So we decided that our summer vacation would be a week on the boat, sailing around the river and the waterways, getting used to the boat and teaching Joe what he needed to know to be my first mate.
We headed down to Stuart with absolutely no idea what to expect. We had never seen the boat, never lived on one and Joe really doesn't have any experience with sailing at all. Our motto: It will be an adventure. Well, it is Thursday now and we have successfully lived on the boat since Saturday night. I'll save you all the details of our comedy of errors week, but here are some highlights:
- We can't, nor really want to, figure out the toilet on board, so I have to walk a quarter mile each way to the bathroom. This is only a pain since I currently get up 2-3 times a night. The worst night was after a night of drinking so I had to get up every two hours. Total mileage for that night: 3.5 miles.
- Trip 1 was ended after an hour of floating instead of sailing. There was absolutely no wind. We still had a good time, saw a dolphin and spent a good Father's Day with the entire family. As we docked, Joe fell in (with a tiny assist from me screwing his balance), lost his glasses and scratched the hell out of his hand on the pillar.
- Trip 2 was the first time with me at the helm. We went out in low tide with the goal to teach Joe how to work the sails. We ended up accidentally jibbing (when the sail swings from one side to the other, my fault), almost throwing Mary Beth into the water and losing two of my mom's decorative pillows. We headed back on a time crunch, but we were heading against the current, directly into the wind and the engine spewed out black oil and smoke. I dropped the sails too quickly, we lost momentum and certainly had a moment of "hhhmpf. Now what?" Mike and I recovered and were able to slowly, but surely, make it back to the marina and Joe made it to his eye doc on time.
Things I've learned:
- I know close to nothing about sailing.
- Living on a boat at a marina is at the same time lonely and very social. Every night the people who are anchored come into the marina and hang out. They watch movies with each other, cook out and try to entertain themselves. One night "English John" brought out his guitar and sang songs while a group of 15 or so listened for over two hours.
- Two things that are now a necessity for marina living: AC and quarters.
- If you've heard the saying that BOAT stands for "Break Out Another Thousand", I'd believe it. We now need to get the hull scraped, the engine looked at, as well as a ton of other little things. Every encounter with a fellow boat owner is a conversation about what is currently wrong with his/her boat.
- Set Plans and Sailing do not go together. We planned to sail each day. We sailed twice and are now unable to, due to possible engine issues. English John had engine issues and was told it would take a week to fix. Four weeks later, he finally got his engine back and was underway to the BVI. I may be a planner, but I am flexible when things change and can go with the flow. Joe is bothered by any change in plans. He has been great so far "making the best of it" but I know it is wearing on him and not what he really wanted for his vacation.
- Despite using essentially a lawn chair cushion for a bed and a decorative pillow, I have never slept better or harder than I do while being gently rocked all night long.
- Even with all the issues and not being able to actually sail, I was genuinely very happy and content as we sat on the back of the boat, eating dinner, watching the sun set. It would have been perfect if we were in the ocean doing that, but even in the marina, it was exactly where I wanted to be at that moment.
I don't know if living on a boat will ever happen for us. Right now we can't even agree on what kind of boat we would want. I still love sailboats and Joe wants the speed and flexibility of a powerboat. This week has been a glimpse of what life would be like and even with all the hiccups, I honestly think I could do it. Until that day happens, I know I have my dad's boat that I can use any time I want to practice using my sea legs, and right now that is enough of an adventure for me.