23 May 2013

So Far Was So Close

Damn, we were so close.  The South Pacific is Right There.

Two different cruisers asked us, "Do you have a cat?" Seriously.
Through the Canal, no hay problema.  Two working engines, a clean bottom, and shiny matching propellers had us whizzing around, giddy with speed and maneuverability.  Our generator was humming; the watermaker reliable.  We brought four hundred pounds of kitty litter on board and filled our propane tanks.  Against all odds, we had a new oven shipped to us and installed.  (And it works.  Seriously.  Even the electronic ignition works!  It is less "thermostatically controlled" than advertised, but this is another story.)  For a brief - very brief - moment, we had two working heads.  We sorted out our rigging problem - which had been a "left over" from the Haiti-Colombia passage.  Old Joy still had her problems, but we had managed to get ahead of most of them.  She was in better shape than we had ever known her.

Ean reminisced in a blog post about our very first time underway (just the two of us) - ten miles from Edgewater to Galesville, MD - and we marveled at the parallels between our upcoming 4000 nm passage and that very first afternoon cruise.  I tested the sat phone and the inReach, and we learned how to post to the blog via email.  We bought charts.  Seriously.  We bought paper charts.

Hiva Oa in the Marquesas (French Polynesia)
I wrote a blog post that I cleverly titled, "The Big Blue Water and the Little Yellow Pushpin."  I had updated "The Adventures of s/v more JOY everywhere!" map, putting a virtual "pushpin" on the island of Hiva Oa in the Marquesas to show where we were headed.  It was a post about falling off the edge of our known world - about going farther in one big leap than we had traveled in the previous 18 months.  My post, sadly, got "disappeared" in the mystical Blogsy-iPad-Blogger triangle.  Hmmm, an omen perhaps?

Ye gods, we even had a weather window.  (That reminds me.  I really need to email Bob the Weather Guesser.)

But.  There was a teensy-weensy problem lurking in the shadows that I was steadfastly refusing to acknowledge as a potential showstopper.  We had this minor, intermittent "issue" with our... auto pilot.  Yes I know.  You can roll your eyes and snort if you want to.  Your auto pilot, Jane?  The totally indispensable piece of equipment that will steer your boat across 4000 nm of vast ocean? Which will allow svJoy's short-handed crew to engage in extraneous activities like sleeping, eating, sail-handling, and other stuff that will keep the space shuttle floating along until its return to earth?

No biggy!  A loose wire!  A silly bad connection!  Easy fix!  EZ-PZ.  In anticipation of a magical solution, I was convinced that we should zip out and buy a gross of fresh eggs.  (Ean was not convinced.)  I was down deep in Denial Doo-Doo.

But at a certain point, you just can't distract yourself enough to completely shut reality out.  Especially since reality is tick-ticking away.  There's a cyclone season in the Pacific, and we don't want to be "in the box" when it arrives in November.  Well, yes, November is still several months off.  But the box is huge.  The Pacific is a fearsome big ocean, and we are on a molasses-in-February slow vessel (February in the northern hemisphere, I should clarify).  The later we leave Panama, the shorter our time will be to visit the islands and "cover" an enormous portion of the planet's circumference.

The p70 control head, which is going to work just fine
with all the other bits and pieces, we're sure.
Tick tick tick. What we have here is a control head failure.  We must replace the control head, which means the control head must be shipped from the US.  Tick tick tick.  That'll take a week or two.  Then we just gotta get it installed, right?  Tick, tick, tick.  Just gotta... plug and play, right?  You know how this modern technology is... right?  It's prob'ly easy as pluggin' in a flash drive, right?  Right?  Tick, tick, tick. Just... finesse a brand-new control head into communicating effectively with a sorta-new chartplotter and a wicked-old auto-pilot compass, course computer, linear drive unit, rudder angle sensor, and wind indicator.  Huh.

Just in case I was at all tempted to extend my visit to the State of Denial, Joy hit us up with a stalling generator and a frozen macerator pump.  And when we went for a little sail to Isla Taboga, ten miles off the coast, we discovered that our roller-furling headsail is neither rolling nor furling, and there is a seam that needs re-sewing.

So, there is a moment at which Denial is no longer possible, but Reality has nothing to offer.  Tick, tick, tick.  At this same moment (mas o menos), Ean points out the obvious: THIS IS NOT FUN.

Back the hell up!  What do you mean, this isn't fun?  We are On The Adventure of a Lifetime!  We Live on a Boat! and We are Sailing Around the World!

How much "fun" we are or should be having is an open question, but for now, I'm just going to admit it straight out: we have NO good reason to push ourselves this hard to launch ourselves into the Pacific this late in the season.  All the pushing has made me crabby, and Ean doesn't like me when I'm crabby.

So we are creating a new plan.  I am sure we've made the right decision, even though I am still mourning the old plan just a bit.  We will wait 'til 2014, to explore all those sunny South Pacific isles that we've been dreaming about.

We have several months to cruise, then, before we jump the puddle....  Wait!  I think I'm getting excited about The New Plan.  What should we do; where should we go?  The world is our oyster!  More accurately, the Pacific coast (of parts of Central and South America) is our oyster.

But Ean reins me in.  BE HERE NOW, he reminds me.  Which, I recall with eye-rolling, is exactly the pearl of wisdom that was imparted to me more than two decades ago by an aging lesbian hippie on an Outward Bound trip through the Joshua Tree desert of California.  

Some lessons just keep coming around.  "Be here now."  Let's see how it goes.


  1. Everything happens for a reason, and I bet there will be More Joy Everywhere making new plans. I love your blogs,thanks and TC.

  2. I agree with Debbie. I almost never quote scripture, but I heard "not lean on your own understanding" yesterday and It hit me: Why me/us, God? Is a totally understandable emotion/reaction! So, maybe this means I'm supposed to join you on the crew after I get some magical shot to be tolerant of cats. :) Take care and post your "plan" soon.

  3. Thanks for the good thoughts, Debbie and Tonieh - and I agree. I am just about through with the grieving now - definitely in "acceptance" mode, anyway. And I never lose sight of the fact that this definitely a "first-world problem" - compared to other problems, it's one that I'm lucky to have.

    The plan is coming, Tonieh! I'm telling you, allergy shots worked SUPER well for me - I know you suffer from seasonal allergies too - I only needed epinephrine that one time, no biggie! :)

  4. Ah well, the south pacific isn't going anywhere. At least you are out cruising! But I hear your frustration. I, too, love the State of Denial and depend on it for regular visits. It keeps me sane.
    I like your idea of exploring the coast of south america, one of our goals for cruising in the future. Sure, go ahead and be 'there' now, but I hope you get to that west coast soon!

    1. yep, as we learn more about cruising Panama and Ecuador, all sorts of possible "plans" are popping up - as long as I don't get too attached to any of them.... :-0