Sunday, July 7, 2013

It's all about your degrees

Wave meets boat. Majestic, omnipotent undulation of ocean meets fiberglass, balsa wood, man made hopeful little craft. It floats. It rocks and twists along. The wave taps, slaps and then it repeats. There are millions before it and after it. And the boat will try with all it’s might – huge canvas sails and little motors, to beat its way across this little section of the mass of ocean surrounding it.
We’ve done three overnight passages, and some day sails. They begin to blend into one memory – the rough seas in the exposed Atlantic stretches, the dead calm and absence of wind on the leaside of each island we pass. I’ve gotten accustomed to tethering in, remembering not to jerk myself backwards as I’m attached to a particular clip and can’t get too far! I know all about sailing meals too – ie water and saltines or a scoffed down apple. It’s okay, the appetite is lulled at sea.

I’m getting into this. When we are an hour or so out of our destination bay I start wishing we could keep going. I wonder how far we could go before I missed land, before I would crave terra firma beneath my feet. I never though this feeling would hit me quite like this, but here I am, over a year of living aboard under my belt, and I am loving sailing. Loving the excitement of the departure from each bay, and the moment when sails are set, and we can cut the motors and feel the wind pick us up and take us along. And the journey begins…It’s like the hokey pokey once you feel it. I’ve jumped in. All limbs in.
Maybe I could cross an ocean like a ‘real sailor’! One day. But for now it’s all about your degrees. In latitude that is. We are one of the many little sailboats, tuned in to radio and internet for weather and wind reports, making the island hops down, down, down – to the ‘safety zone’ – or out of the hurricane belt. The season has begun.
Insurance companies are strict about it and cruisers are pretty serious too, when it comes to where you find yourself in the hurricane season.
12 degrees is the magic number. As we began our southward hopping in Antigua, I noted our GPS coordinates at over 16 degrees. And slowly I’ve been watching that number tick downward, through each trip. There’s been the interim stops in St. Lucia, The Saintes, Martinique, Carriacou, rum squalls with old and new cruiser friends, and finally the chat plotter struck 12. We’ve reached Grenada once again!
Rum squall in St Lucia with junior captain :)

This year we won’t be anchored in place though – we’ll go back up to Carriacou for the regatta and then down to Tobago and finally to Trinidad to eat doubles and rotis, oh, and get some work done on the boat.
Once all that is done, there is adventure. Aruba? Bonaire? Curacao? Maybe the wind will carry us further than we’ve been, but for now, we’ve reached 12 degrees and we are theoretically SAFE.
That’s not to say that we won’t be checking weather and wind forecasts between rum squalls though. This is the cruising life and ‘that’s what it’s all about’.

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