Walking down the D dock ramp toward Exodus yesterday, I found myself singing a song mindlessly. I stopped, and realized I was singing,“I think I’m Gonna Like It Here,” from the musical Annie- the 2014 version, of course (if you don’t know it, you can watch it here). It was at that moment, I realized my anxiety had abated, at least for the moment.
I know that my change in attitude was from a women’s roundtable discussion that morning, with the 34 or so other women, both owners and crew, who are part of the 71 boats making up the Salty Dawgs, the rally we joined to make the passage from Hampton, Virginia to Antigua. The Dawgs have arranged seminars, presentations and get-togethers for the week before we make the passage- everything from offshore fishing, to sailing in rough weather, to care and provisioning of the crew. Yesterday morning’s session was just for women.
“Yes, Yes, I think I AM gonna like it here!” I thought as I stepped aboard Exodus.
This network of women has made me feel comfortable, or at least, they’ve taken the edge off. Many of the women are newbies like I am. Many have sailed tens of thousands of sea miles, some have been sailing with their partners for almost two decades. There is nothing like a frank discussion about one’s fears and anxieties with interesting, like-minded, knowledgable, women, who not only don’t judge you, but openly admit that they have the same fears and anxieties as you do—no matter how long they’ve been at it. I am more convinced than ever that people who live on a boat, whether they are older or younger or middle aged—well…they are some of the coolest people around.
I know now that over the course of this adventure, I will not be lonely. I will be making new, life-long sailing friends, not to replace my home friends, but as add ons, and value ads. These friends will be different. They “get” this lifestyle. They don’t wonder how anyone can live on 49 feet. They appreciate a seaworthy boat more than a fancy below-decks. They have made their boats their homes. They are also seeking a life of adventure, even if it means significant sacrifice, and we can talk openly about those sacrifices.
These women have taken me, and all the newcomers, under their wings, and have given us advice in just about every area and eventuality you can imagine, including:
- When you want to throw your husband overboard (a stash of dark chocolate and “marriage savers” -those walky talky headphones, aptly named-loom large here.)
- Food for passage (A hot meal every day served in a bowl with one utensil, eaten before the sun goes down after you’ve leveled the boat, is imperative for crew moral).
- For when you just need some cake, and you don’t have more than 2 minutes or use of an oven (it’s called a 3-2-1 cake – combine a package of Angel Food cake with any other cake mix in a large baggie. Mix 3 TBS of that mixture with 2 TBS of water, then microwave for 1 minute. Voila! Instant cake, and thank you Sharon on Allegro, I will be able to celebrate my birthday with cake! And it works, I tried it!
- Cocktail hour etiquette (for after arrival in Antigua). Cocktail hour aboard another boat is called a “Sundowner.” Bring your own drinks, bring an appetizer, and clean up after yourself…and don’t forget to go back to your own boat.
- Safety: never let a man pee off the side of the boat, no matter how rough it is. Apparently, 75% of the men rescued by the Coast Guard after falling overboard are rescued (dead or alive) with their flies open.
- Exercise on Passage: Forget about it!
- Culture: Everyone single sailor I have met here knows exactly what movie this image is from. Actually, they know just about every single line from this movie. It is a cult movie among sailors. How could we have not known about it? I have a feeling I will be seeing a lot of Captain Ron.
- Sex: One very experienced British woman advised that during the passage we take an hour and go down below and have sex. Actually, that is what I heard her say. What she actually said was take an hour and REST. I learned that I had misunderstood her British accent well after I had conveyed this sage advice to Mike. Let’s just say he was not happy about the correction.
And lest you think these women cannot give advice re retail therapy, they are champs. Based on their suggestions, I have ordered more on Amazon Prime in the last 5 days than I ever have (ok, maybe not cumulatively, but certainly in a 5 day period). Based on various suggestions of what will make my life so much better living on the boat, I have purchased (among other things that Mike needed (wanted)), the following: two air chairs, an easy sprout bean sprouter and seeds, an electric frying pan, 5 flameless candles, a Dyson hand held vacuum, and Yoyo fishing tackle and book. Can’t live without them, apparently.
So yesterday after the roundtable discussion (and before the correction) after just picking up two packages from Amazon, I was all, “Yes, Yes, I think I’m gonna like it here!”
Today, Mike and I just got out of the seminar on sailing through rough weather- use of sea anchors, heaving to in high winds when you just need a break, dangerous eddies in the gulf stream,and that kind of thing. I kissed my good mood goodbye.
I’m still convinced I’m gonna love it when we get to Antigua, but I’m back to just about losing my cookies when I think about sailing in 20 foot seas and 35 knot winds.