The cruising moments you don't expect.....
The following is an excerpt from my passage log, from a 36 hour run in company with friends on the Queensland coast. I share it here as maybe It sums up for me the unexpected, inexplicable moments of cruising I didn't ask for, but that now have me hooked.
After a few carefree days in Civilisation we have now finally left in company with Whimaway to again try and take advantage of a very small weather window.
The forecast is far from ideal. The seas and winds are big and still on the nose, but are mean't to be decreasing. If we can't make this weather window work then we are stuck in here for probably another week if not longer.
Have had an uncomfortable start to the passage beating into large but decreasing seas. We are taking it ok, but if we were honest neither of us really want to be out here right now. Josie is a little queazy, Pizza for dinner while watching sunset. Have invited Whimaway to swim over for sundowners, but so far no takers.
Jo and Sophie have gone to bed and conditions aboard had improved considerably. The boat's motion is now quite comfortable, and the seas are reasonable. Listening to Dire Straits, starting to see stars, and moon is out. How quickly things can change.......
Early hours of the morning and we have a warm westerly at 15 knots!! Sheets eased and the moon is shining as dolphins swim past us and it is a truly magic sail. With the warm onshore breeze, I can smell the land, like I can really smell the trees, the beaches and the warmth. The boat is moving beautifully on seas that look like they were made just for us. I decide not to wake Josie for her watch.
I think about the people asleep in the towns I am sailing past, I can see their lights in the distance and I wonder if they know we are out here.
I think about my friends and family in Sydney, in that bustling city, I think about what their day would of been like, and realize how different my life now is from theirs. While they know we are out here, they probably would not be able to understand this moment.
I put down my book, and hit play on the stereo. Norah Jones this time. I really feel truly and utterly alive. The anxiousness of previous passages has been replaced by complete elation over the wonder of really being alive and of being privileged enough to be out here experiencing all of this.
Whimaway has just passed us, they look to be heading right out, maybe trying to find the current. I look at our speed, not only are we moving wonderfully before the wind, but we are also benefitting from at least 2 knots of current. I think about calling them on the radio again, curious if they are getting any more current than us out there, but it may wake Josie.
5AM Still sailing beautifully, led down on the deck and just watched the stars for 20 minutes. First light has just hit. Have put the camembert and ham in the croissants for breakfast, will put them in the warmer soon and wake Josie for breakfast.
In planning this trip I had expected to enjoy the pretty places we would see, the islands and the beaches, the reefs we would snorkel and to have fun meeting the new people we would meet, however it was these quiet but magic moments on my sailboat moving easily before the wind and the moon that I had not expected.
Cool, just add a glass of wine or two...
(I am not sure about the Norah Jones?)
Some of my best moments have been under the stars. I can certainly relate to what you were feeling.
I'm a neophyte when it comes to overnight passages, but I know I was hooked from my very first 4am watch. Our place in the Universe becomes far more evident on a sailboat at night. I'm eager for our next opportunity to experince it.
That is just friggin' beautiful, even the camembert part.
On this site I think we talk too much about fixing the plumbing and not enough about the cruising experience itself. BTW, there are some good cruising pictures in the Cruising Liveaboard section on Cultural Aspects of Cruising.
One of the nicest parts of cruising is sunrise, in particular if the moon has been down. It is like the world gets bigger all around you.
Chall - you nailed it bro. Congrats on tapping into the best thing on the planet. I envy you guys.
(Oh, and jw29 - Norah Jones kicks butt. I know she's no Poison or Madonna - but then she doesn't totally suck like them.)
Awesome post, Chall - beautiful and well told.. I could 'see' it all.
Someone mentioned the sunrises... my fave was one early March our son and I were delivering his new-to-him boat from Tacoma to Vancouver. We were heading into Georgia Strait just before dawn (after transiting the Snohomish Canal under a full moon) when the sun began to rise behind us. At exactly the same time the moon was setting, huge, full, and bright orange on the bow. I was alone on deck and nearly woke the boy, but he'd just finally gotten some sleep...
It's a magical world at times..
I can totally relate to this.
My sweetheart and I we sailing from Stuart, FL to Miami overnight and the trip started off uncomfortably for her. The wind was supposed to switch around to the West but took longer than expected, so we beat/motorsailed for a long time into the waves. This was her first overnight trip and I really wanted it to be a good experience.
The wind finally switched around 3am and I was able to shut down the engine and enjoy a fabulous beam reach under a clear sky full of stars. It was simply magic. It is one of those moments when you feel like nothing can go wrong, nothing matters much, all your worries just vanish.
She had been asleep below for a while when the sun came up over the Bahamas, with just a few burned out storms left on the horizon which it gave it such a beautiful three dimension effect.
The boat was sailing perfectly on autopilot, doing about 6 knots in the 15 kts Westerly breeze. All the condos from Ft Lauderdale and Miami Beach were visible on the right, all lit up. At that moment, I felt the same way you did, looking at the buildings, thinking of the people inside, probably still asleep in their comfortable beds, and all I could think was that I wouldn't trade places for anything. I could visualize someone on their balcony, drinking coffee and admiring their gorgeous view as well, noticing our boat out there, and possibly wondering what it must be like to be on it right now.
I felt more alive than ever. What a magical place.
I put on some music, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole Over The Rainbow, it was perfect, it is often my relaxing morning music when I get up. I couldn't stop smiling. It gave me what I call a FRAMP (a facial cramp from smiling too much... Good stuff. I hope everyone has at least one in their lifetime).
The music gently woke up the Admiral as she had said she wanted to see the sunrise, and she came out, admiring what nature had blessed us with. We sat there without having to talk for a while, listening to the music and the sound of the boat gently cutting through the warm water.
I kept looking at the buildings in the distance and wondering how many folks would get this. I mean, you can tell the story a million times, but unless you sail, there are certain feelings that just can't be explained.
Thank you Chall for starting this thread, it made me smile and feel alive.
I can't wait to get out on a nice overnight passage with the stars out and then watching the sun rise on the horizon. So far the only overnight passage I've experienced was going across Lake Michigan in a thunderstorm with 35 knot winds which just dissipated into dreary gray skies the next morning. :( Interesting night though.
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