Yes, I knew what I was getting into. Yes, I wanted to take the adventure. But now it is 11:30 PM on our first day of vacation, and I am alone on deck until my shift ends at 2:30 AM and I am out of my comfort zone. I tell myself that this is exactly where “life” is supposed to begin, but it is total blackness outside- like driving through ink- as our sailboat plows through the Gulf of Maine. There is no moon. There is no wind. There is no cell service. The depth meter shows we are in 645 feet of water. “Eerie,” I think. “This is totally eerie.” The motor on the sailboat is a constant hum, tempting to lure me to sleep. But I can’t sleep. I am in charge; totally in charge. I can’t believe he trusts me to be out here alone, but sure enough, Mike sleeps below.
If something happens and we die, it will be my fault. The kids will know. “Mom must have screwed up,” they will say to each other, because they seem to think that Mike is perfect. That thought keeps me awake for a good half hour—I won’t screw up, but how come they don’t think I’m perfect?
I wonder if our kids will keep us worrying in the way that we still keep our own mothers worrying by doing crazy shit like this. I wonder why worrying doesn’t move up the generations, only down. My kids didn’t tell us to call when we got in from sailing. They were not following us- 34 hours, 75 miles offshore in the pitch darkness with no cell service. But our moms sure did.
I check the radar, the GPS regularly, and look for lights in the distance. There are two more hours to get through. I realize that I have my iPad. I try reading but that makes me even more drowsy, then I remember I have Games! Scores of them. I am wide awake twenty games of Solitaire later, totally addicted–move over Word With Friends–no internet required!
Mike wakes up before my shift is over. “How are you doing?” he asks.
“Thank God for Solitaire,” I reply as I head below to sleep. “We’d probably be dead now.”
A total insomniac by land, I fall immediately into a deep sleep. I wake up fully refreshed at 4:30 AM to take shift two, and I notice the sun is already coming up. But then the fog rolls in, and the wind picks up, right on the nose. A big purple blob shows up on the screen. It’s a weather “event.” I wake Mike up, and he alters our course to go around the thunderstorm, then goes back to sleep.
Alone again, I think about the last 24 hours. About leaving Nantucket in the early morning the day before, when it was hot and sunny, the winds light and from behind, our colorful spinnaker moving us along gently in the breeze.
I think about how when we started out we saw fins in the water. Mike assumed they were porpoises; I assumed they were sharks. I have no idea who was right, but that about sums us up.
I think about the bluefish we caught for dinner, and how I don’t really like bluefish, but how good it was because of how my man filleted and grilled it as we sailed.
I think about how we showered naked off the back of the boat under sunny hot skies, no land or other boats in sight, and how I told Mike, “I am so going to sunbathe naked tomorrow on the deck,” as we watched a beautiful sun set through emerging clouds on the foredeck.
As I am deep in thought, Mike comes up at 6:30 AM to take over, and I fall into another deep sleep. While I dream, the weather deteriorates.
“I guess I won’t be sunbathing naked on deck, huh?,” I say to Mike as I put on my heavy sweatshirt and my foul weather gear–tops and bottoms.
Mike turns the boat around 180 degrees when he sees a wall of six lightening storms a few miles ahead over the bow. Our mast is the tallest object as far as the eye can see. If we are hit by lightening, all the electronics on board are toast. We put our cell phones and a handheld VHS in the microwave, to protect them. I don’t know why, there is no cell service anyway, but I don’t bother to mention that–I am too busy surviving the moment to make wise cracks.
We battle the storms and the weather most of the day, until we see a lobster pot in 365 feet of water and know we have hit the gorgeous coast of Maine. The skies clear. We have cell service.
“At least we weren’t sea sick,” Mike says to me over lunch with a smile, and it’s true, that is the silver lining–and we have arrived in Maine for a two-week sailing adventure.
“Call your mother,” I say to him as I dial mine. “She’s probably worried.” And as I say it, I wonder who will worry about us when they are gone.