Imagine you're pregnant. Really pregnant. You were due to deliver about three weeks ago, but the baby refuses to come out. You are way past the beautiful glow that pregnant women enjoy. Your belly is so large you can no longer get out of a chair without the help of a hydraulic lift. You feel exhausted. You look terrible. Your feet hurt all the time. Emotionally, you are a wreck; you're worried things might not go well, you can't sleep, and your friends (who mean well) continually ask, "Haven't you had that baby yet?"
|Better late term than never|
But, like any gravid woman, your boat takes on more weight than you thought possible as every locker swells with gear you are convinced you must have to survive. Plus, you don't sleep well, you look terrible, and your feet hurt all the time.
Like the actual birth date, it is damn near impossible to accurately predict when you will be able to set sail. That is because it is next to impossible to know how long any specific boat project will take-- if you want it to be done correctly, safely, and maintainably, that is. That last bit has been the catch for us. We've encountered a number of situations where taking a short-cut would have saved us time, but meant that if we ever needed to fix it again, we'd be screwed.
Tasks that should have taken only an hour took a day, workmen tell you it will be a week, but it turns out to be a month; projects go sideways, unexpected problems arise, and you are continually left having to decide whether you should leave with something that isn't quite ready. To extend the analogy, it's like having to consciously decide which bits of the fetus to grow, and how much effort you are willing to put towards each limb or organ. Try to imagine someone saying "You know, you could have this baby now if you don't mind it only have seven fingers."
And to make matters even more infuriating, you will get absolutely no sympathy from your non-cruising friends about any of this. They think that sailing off into the sunset is nothing more complicated than throwing a few things into a bag and grabbing a flight to the islands. In fact, non-cruisers have about as much insight into "getting off the dock" as long-distance runners might have about swimming the English channel.
We've taken to responding to our land-locked friends (when they oh-so-casually comment that we haven't left yet) to please imagine what it would be like to pack everything they own into a fifteen-year-old Chrysler van, first making sure that there aren't any mechanical problems, and then driving across Europe for the next ten or twenty years. Oh, and they will also need to bring all the tools and parts they might need should anything break down.
But we're not bitter. Especially if folks don't seem to understand that sailing "on a schedule" is exactly the worst thing to do. We were faced with just that problem last month, when we'd reached our "WE WILL ABSOLUTELY LEAVE BY THIS DATE" cut-off. We had signed up for the Baha-Haha cruiser's rally (and were really looking forward to it), which meant we needed to be in San Diego by Oct 26th. We had crew (our good friends Mike & Melissa) meeting us there (they'd already booked their flights), and would all sail down with us to Cabo San Lucas.
At the time we'd made plans, we had been told that the stainless-steel arch we hired a welder to construct would be done "in a couple of days". That turned out to be more than four weeks, the last few days of which found me hovering over the workman, goading him on. That, in itself, wouldn't have been such a big deal, but the work was being done in Alameda, which meant that we were stuck in boat yard a half hour away from our own dock and office, which impacted all the other projects we needed to get accomplished.
So, when the arch was finally completed and we could return to our home port, we found ourselves in the unenviable position of having to strap a number of half-finished projects onto the deck, finish moving out of both our office and our storage areas, cram fifteen years worth of stuff on board, and shove off...all in about three days time.
And, for some crazy reason, we attempted to do just that. At the end of it, we were exhausted, nothing was organized, and most importantly, we'd discovered several issues with the boat that left us thinking we just weren't ready to set sail. At least not safely. We realized that we were breaking the cardinal rule of sailing-- never let a deadline force your departure.
So, we postponed our departure date, begged forgiveness from Mike & Melissa (who graciously did not keel-haul us) and revised our plans. Instead, we decided it made more sense to finish the boat projects here (where parts, equipment, and workspace are readily available) and leave when we'd completed the crucial items left on our check list (and we were well-rested and ready), regardless of how long that took.
That means we'll be here for at least a month or two. We still expect to get down to Mexico eventually, and are working full-time on getting everything ship-shape in the meantime. On the bright side, we expect to have a few preparatory shake-down cruises, and invite folks along. We'll be sending out notices on the cruising list, so keep an eye out for something from the Tritons.
Cheers for now,
Robb & AnnMarie
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