10 November 2011

We Met Virginia

The enveloping fog we woke up to, the fog that was supposed to lift by noon never did, or if it did, it was so overcast that it didn’t much matter.  Undaunted (or, more accurately, not overly daunted) we hoisted the anchor and ventured forth, albeit at a prudent 3.2 knots at first.  We had less than three tenths of a mile of visibility; our lives were in the hands of our instruments.  Jane set the multifunction display to chart plotter on the left and radar on the right so we knew where we were-- exactly and we knew who and what else was out there as well.  Blind in the real world, making way by on one’s instrumentation is an odd sensation.  

Still the crab pots to contend with, but the fog was ironically helpful with that.  “If you can’t see ‘em, you can’t hit ‘em,” I reported to Jane.  She is our captain and so is on the helm most of the time.  I am line handler, watchman, deck hand, etc.  I like this arrangement; I don’t sit in one place for long well and this crew configuration allows me to move around more.  I’ve taken to sitting watch on the port side of the coach roof, binoculars at the ready.  Jane has an eagle eye and can usually see a buoy or crab pot with her naked eye before I see them with the binocs.  I know she’s got the starboard side covered.  I take the port side where her view is obstructed by the rigging.

I like this world.  I like listening to the chatter on the VHF.  I like seeing the vessel symbols on the AIS, knowing their names, sizes, drafts, positions, courses, speeds, destinations, ETAs.  Here, we are somehow part of a realer world.  A world in the constant motion of nature and commerce.  In a fog that blots out sun and shore, where the occasional pelican dodges our bow, I find it is an effort to remember that this is remarkable, that our lives had been otherwise.  The fog finally lifts and the sky is endless despite the clouds.  This feels so normal, so just another dayish.

Once in the bay, we bumped our speed up to our now-usual 6+ knots.  We were becoming more trustful of our instruments and without being able to see anything or feel the sun it was not a fun day; it was only 30+ miles closer to our destination, nothing notable by car, but an accomplishment by boat.  We’ve made our first hundred miles, what with our excursion to St. Michaels and we have crossed our first state line: we are on the Virginia side of the Potomac.  Joy will never again see Maryland as long as we own her.

Tonight, Jane is concerned about our second effort at anchoring.  We are in a protected creek off the Coan River called The Glebe.  Our draft is only three-and-a-half feet, but she is still timid of dropping the hook in water less than 10 feet.  We did, after all, dock in four-and-a-half feet of water at Hartge’s.  She vows to become braver as we go along.  Her watch alarms every hour and she checks our position to see if we’ve drifted.  I watch her walk around the boat and am in love with how much she is in her element here.  We’ve agreed to do an anchor watch every two hours through the night.

Oddly, it is only recently that we’ve discussed the beginning, those few days after the idea first occurred to us.  She was still deeply involved in her career as an educator and I had just switched seminaries.  I didn’t think she would take the idea seriously, not seriously enough to swap lives at a mere suggestion.  It wasn’t, I told her, until a few days later, when I woke up to find her at the computer researching yachts, that I knew she was” in.” 

“You’re up already.”  (She NEVER wakes up before I do.)

“I think we want a catamaran, “she stated, by way of a morning greeting.

“That’s when I knew you were “in,” I tell her.

“Oh, I was in from the very beginning” she replies.

“I was afraid you’d come to your senses or something” I confess.

She had.

Tomorrow, we head for Deltaville, where a French press—polycarbonate, suitable for live aboard life-- sits in stock at West Marine just waiting for us.  That and a teakettle (our 30 amps is no match for our electric kettle which consistently blows the circuit) some half-and-half, a few triple A batteries and something in the way of vegetables.  We are hoping to make Portsmouth and mile marker 0 of the ICW Sunday afternoon.  Life is good.

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