It’s been a hectic and stressful couple of weeks punctuated by big fun, mostly thanks to George on Summer Wind, our tour guide, and my cousin Jackie Oliver and his family.
Jack took advantage of the time to knock some chores off the list.
Once we accepted the fact that we weren’t going to be able to catch up to our friends in time to transit the canal together and, more importantly, cross the Pacific together, we relaxed somewhat, secure in the certainty that we will meet other likeminded cruisers to share the long passages with.
At the moment we’re off the coast of the Dominican Republic sailing dead downwind wing and wing (one sail held out to each side like wings.) We left Ponce about 11am Monday after scrambling to check out with US Customs and Immigration, filling the fuel tanks, rigging the preventers we knew we need for the sails on this downwind run, preparing last minute food so i wont have to cook for a few days while we get our sea legs again. On that last one we needn’t have worried. This is our first time sailing off the wind in Escape Velocity and it’s glorious. Last night the wind was on our beam and we made 8 kts for hours without the bashing and crashing of our first two years of windward sailing. I took the first night watch and even though we usually do 4-hour watches overnight I stayed out for 6 hours to let Jack sleep longer and because it was just so darn beautiful. There was no moon until later so from my comfy nook in the cockpit I watched the stars swing and sway as EV danced in the wind and waves. I’m happy to report that Uncle Ray has been flawless — knock on wood — and we haven’t given a thought to staying on course. During my watch there were no ships either, nor any wildlife. I’m always amazed at the beginning of a passage how empty the seas are.
This morning the wind is right behind us and we’re a little slower but I’m enjoying the peace and calm. A lone frigate bird occasionally swoops down beside us looking for fish in our wake. Jack has gone down for a nap. The big decision today is whether we will swing the watch schedule or keep to the Marce early, Jack late pattern we started last night. After the frantic activity of getting ready for the next phase of our journey being at sea again is like meditation. The whoosh of the waves passing under us, the gentle rocking of the boat, the knowledge that we can’t accomplish anything on our list while we’re underway all lull us into a trancelike calm. And though there’s nothing to see but the sky and the beautiful Caribbean sea, we’re not bored. Our senses are heightened to notice subtle differences in sounds on the boat or changes in the clouds that might signal wind or rain.
I may read for a while, but right now the beauty of this moment has my full attention.
Note: While we’re underway we try to remember to mark our position on the Spot (link on the right) but you can also follow us at www.marinetraffic.com. Just search for Escape Velocity and you should be able to see a realtime position. There’s also an app for that.