Aboard the Sailing Vessel

January 24, 2005

Winter in the Bahamas
There was little doubt that this cold front would reach this far south. And it did. The wind blew overnight and settled down some in the morning.

Many boats that were anchored out came in to quickly fill Sampson Cay Marina as the front approached.

The double barreled cold front promises to produce uncertain wind for the next few days. Actually, there are conflicting forecasts. One forecaster says wind from the north, another says wind from the west. Both forecasts say they will not be strong.

Our plan is to leave the marina tomorrow morning and find a decent place to anchor. The only question is, "What type of protection should we seek, from the north or from the west?

The sky is about to be consumed
by the encroaching clouds.

Master Of All That I Survey

I never feel so alive as when I am out cruising aboard my sailing ship. When we leave the shore we must be prepared to deal with, or endure, whatever the Lord and the ocean places in front of us.

We like to think we are prepared. We read. We plan. We talk with people. We survey the ship and repair what needs fixing. We provision. We chart our course. We make plans to ration water and conserve precious electric energy. We become familiar with weather patterns and try to learn the currents in the sea. We learn to handle lines and tie knots that will not release during a storm. Then we double check it all by reviewing our preparations again.

It is when one takes a ship to sea, that one is the master of all that he surveys. Or so one might think.

Weather, health, circumstance, and human communication can make a fool out the most prepared. And woe be on to he who has not prepared.

During this voyage we have laid low, either at anchor in a harbor or tied to a dock, for nearly 20 days due to weather. As much as we wanted to sail on those days, we could not muster the moxie to master the howling winds.

When Jill took ill at Norman's Cay, much of our thinking evolved from how she felt. We stayed at Norman's for more than 10 days. Her health eventually drove us to the protection of a marina in Sampson Cay. Jill was not feeling well enough to master the wind of a winter cold front while Shibumi pitched wildly on her anchor.

Circumstance plays a big role in one's ability to master all that he surveys. Friends of ours suffered a string of circumstances too numerous to mention here. But to touch on a few: they were swamped by an inter-island ferry in Nassau Harbor, then rammed by a 30-foot power-boat in the same harbor, one of their family members was bitten by an iguana on Allen's Cay, they lost the outboard motor for the dinghy (I'm not sure how), their winlass (anchor motor) burned out while they pulled their ship off of the rocks after the anchor dragged in the middle of the night.

I could go on, but it is easy to understand that being the master of all one surveys has been a challenge for that family. However, they are still out here sailing, living their dream, mastering the circumstances.

Human communications. We all know that on a ship there is only one captain. The captain makes the final decisions, right? Wrong. When a crew member is the life-partner of the captain a new dynamic sometimes appears. It is called the fully commissioned Admiral. No sane captain will attempt to master the unfailing authority of an Admiral.

Fortunately, the self-appointed Admiralcy is usually found when the boat lays still at anchor or tied to a dock. It is rarely envoked at sea, where the challenges are mutiplied, serious, and real.

It is when one takes a ship to sea, that one is the master of all that he surveys. Or so one might think.

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