Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Tag Team Togetherness

The sailing of this first real sailing trip was not the only thing I was a bit worried about. I wasn’t sure about all the “togetherness”. We’d be 8 days including camping on our small 20 ft sailboat, that’s pretty tight quarters. This would be the first real vacation Paul and I would take together without kids, in about 10 years.

I also didn’t know how it would go with Steve and Bruce in “Spartina”; we didn’t really know either of them. We’d been reading Steve’s blog for a couple years, and Paul and I had become occasional email pen-pals with him over the past year. We certainly knew about him, but we’d only actually met once. Last November we had an opportunity to meet for lunch in Hampton Virginia when Steve came out the weekend that our son Alan was leaving on his world sailing trip with the EYE of the World. We hadn’t met, nor had any communication with Bruce before our trip.

I suspect there was some initial hesitancy all around. When we’d emailed with Steve about the trip plans, we’d all agreed that we’d just play it by ear and would make no plans or promises of staying together. We would all meet at Potter’s Marina where we would start the trip, then head out to our first anchorage and dine together. Steve and Bruce have been doing annual sailing trips together on “Spartina” for a few years now, and Bruce’s beef stew with wine had become a tradition. We were invited to dinner.

We arrived at the Marina about 2 hours late. Months of planning, and it still seemed final preparations were totally last minute. We’d borrowed a motor for the trip from our friend Ken, but wasn’t able to get it till Wed night before the trip. Once seeing its fit on our transom, Paul needed to very quickly make a mounting for it, and do some reinforcing to hold the extra weight. We were up late Thursday, the night before finishing our packing. Friday I sent a quick message to Steve warning that we were running late, and we’d just meet at the planned anchorage, we had the coordinates in our GPS. Steve called to check on our location when they were all set up and ready to head out and we were only 5 miles away. They decided to wait for us to arrive which gave us time to meet Bruce and to all share in each other’s excitement about our upcoming trip. It really made for a perfect start.

It was our first day crossing the Pamlico River with the East wind and a large swell across the long fetch over the Pamlico Sound and up the River that I realized I’d be okay with the sailing. Possibly not the strongest wind, but certainly the roughest conditions I’d been in on our sailboat. During the River crossing I’d report to Paul the angle of heeling as my eyes would fix on the incline meter mounted on our cabin. 

It was a bit of a wet ride that day, and with a fair amount of heeling, a total immersion for me. I believe that the boat weighed down with all our gear for the 8 day trip felt more stable than usual, and I was feeling okay about it all. I don’t think I took the tiller till we’d crossed the River and were in calmer conditions, but there was no hesitation after that.

The togetherness I wondered about was also no problem. Paul and I had a wonderful time together, and with lots of fun and laughter. We took turns sharing the role as Captain and Crew; other chores seemed to just happen naturally. I took on the dinner cooking and Paul the cleanup. Each morning Paul would make the coffee while I put away the bedding away. (Note: these are all chores Paul would have been more than happy to take on, but I had a system already). There really was little discussion about who would do what, it just sort of happened naturally.

Pictures of us taken by Steve or Bruce show little other than smiling faces (picture below from day 5).

Steve’s great daily trip reports (he’s posted Day1 thru Day 3) also tell the secondary story of the building friendship that developed between us all. We visited each day over cocktails and dinner, sharing stories from the day and from days gone by, even choosing to dine together when in port. Each morning we’d also visit briefly reviewing the day’s course and weather reports before setting sail.

I knew Paul was a skilled sailor and navigator, but I’d not really had much opportunity to experience it. I’d originally thought the tag teaming with “Spartina”, would add a bit more of a safety net to our trip, Steve’s blog certainly speaks to his skill and experience. But in the end, our staying together and really “Tag Teaming” for the 200 miles, was really only for the fun and enjoyment of it all.

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