04 May 2013

There's an App for That

Yes, we're still here in Panama City but our To Do list gets smaller every day, despite the fact that we keep getting things done that aren't even on it (and then have to add them just so we can cross them out). It's hard to believe we're about to make our way across some 4,000 nautical miles of water, more distance in one enormous puddle jump than we have done altogether so far. Hard to believe also, that a little over eighteen months ago, we girded our loins to make our very first passage.

By most cruisers' standards (including our own, now) it wasn't much of a passage, just out of the
South River at Edgewater, Maryland, into, very briefly, the Chesapeake, and then back into the West River to Galesville. Ten miles in total; none sailed, just motored. Had it not been for the late October bite in the air, a harbinger of much colder things to come, who knows how long it might have been before we cast off the docklines that first time.

Or, more truthfully, the first time without "adult supervision." About a week after moving aboard, our broker, Tommy, taking pity on us, took us out for an afternoon sail to run us through the basics. But still... What if we... or... or... The one thought that kept impressing itself upon us was how improbable it seemed to successfully move a boat from one point to an intended other knowing as little about how to do it as we did. But every morning was chillier than the one before.

In our defense, we weren't the only ones dragging our keels. Our survey had produced a very extensive list of repairs that needed to be attended to in order that our insurance company would remain happy to have our money. Here, our hands were tied. With our non-existent sailing resume, they were the only company who would take us on. We were young, then, and naive and reluctant to piss them off. The aforementioned Tommy "had a guy" that he called in to do any repair work needed on his clients' boats. We gave him our survey results and consulted with him as to which ones ought to be done immediately and which ones could be put off until we got somewhere warmer.

And then we waited... He'd see us on the way to someone else's boat and promise to come by later that afternoon or first thing the next morning. A day passed, two, most of a week. Had he been one of the many contractors we'd hired during the remodeling of our bungalow, I'd have given him one chance before I fired him and given the job to someone else, but we didn't know of anyone else. And besides, we thought, maybe in the world of pleasure boating, there was a different protocol. Maybe clients were just expected to be more patient. After more than 10 days had passed without him showing up to once, we were pretty sure we were being blown off, but couldn't understand why. Since he was our broker's guy, we went to our broker and asked him to light a fire under him, not the least of which because we needed the warmth; we were getting COLD.

Still nothing. Than one day, more than two weeks after we'd originally contracted with him, when we thought we had him pinned down to a time, we watched as he ran past us to help another crew with an emergency issue that would delay their intended departure time. Wait, didn't we have an intended departure time or, rather, week? We were done.

In bemoaning our plight with a few of our neighbors, someone suggested a boatyard a few miles down the "road" in Galesville. They had a good reputation, at least they had a reputation for actually doing something. Maybe it was just as well. For psychological as well as meteorological reasons, it was high time for us to begin our adventure. Every day of delay made going that much more daunting.

One very real obstacle remained. Though not an item on our survey, one of the projects requiring immediate attention was the installation of our new chartplotter, the very instrument we needed to navigate our way to the boatyard that could install it for us. If we didn't trust our ability to maneuver the boat, we certainly had no intention of trusting our fate to our very limited paper charting abilities with which we had even less experience. No, without a chartplotter with GPS, we couldn't budge. Then, a day or so later, we realized that there had to be a chartplotter app for smartphones, and sure enough, nine bucks later, we were in business.

So we left and we learned to back away from a dock and steer a vessel the size of 8 cars. We learned to trust the accuracy of our position as it was displayed on the tiny screen. We learned that we were fine with only five feet of water under our keel. By the time we tied up at Hartge Yachtyard a few hours later, we learned that we could do something we had no idea how to do ahead of time. We learned that knowing what you're doing can happen as you go along and maybe not until you get there, but that shouldn't (always) stop you from setting out. If we didn't actually learn how to sail on our first cruise, we learned that we would.

We've been on a few cruises and longer ones since then, but nothing's really changed. We're still going along and doing things we have no idea how to do. That's why we know it's an adventure.

Click on the monkey's fist to read others bloggers on this topic.

The Monkey's Fist

1 comment:

  1. Love this blog! i can really identify with the 'list' and with all the broken promises that boat artisans make. And it seems to be that the latter is the same the world over, whether in a first world developed country or out on the islands! We are in Contadora, las Perlas and may see you on the road...