In two days. I set sail for the first time without my dad.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve sailed without the man, but never overnight or offshore.
Earlier tonight, we sat on the deck of the house we’re using as a base camp until the race begins in two days, and talked about any hesitations I had before setting sail with Anne Kolker and the rest of the crew aboard the 52 Stellar Sloop Etoile.
I told him I had none. I’m not sure if that’s true, either, but at this point I’m not convinced that it matters.
Last night, I slept with the window’s open to listen to the waves. Not that I won’t be hearing them constantly over the next handful of days, but it was something familiar and soothing. They’re the same waves I’ll be cursing on Saturday as I vomit over the side of the boat, as I do in every offshore race I’ve tackled so far. 24 hours of torture traded for 4-5 days of sailing bliss.
We’ve been staring at the Gulf Stream charts for weeks. We’re keeping an eye on the prominent meander that is essentially on the rhumb line that, while unchanged since early May, has suddenly decided to transform from a north-south trajectory to an east-west trajectory. It’s a shift that our navigator, Garret, has been turning over in her mind.
His Excellency, the Governor of Bermuda, George Fergusson, is sailing aboard the 118-foot Bermuda Sloop, Spirit of Bermuda. At dinner, we shared predictions about the start: 10-15 knots, downwind, with an ebb tied. We’ll be sling-shotted out of Buzzards Bay and leave the Sow and Pigs, a series of rocks at the end of the Elizabeth Islands at the end of the bay, to port before we sail over the drop off of the continental shelf and out into the open sea.
The race starts on Friday. It’s also the day my parents will close on the sale of my childhood home after living there for 25 years. Though the confluence is purely accidental, the emotions don’t seem too different. I’ve checked my gear bags a dozen times, like I checked all the nooks and crannies of the house for forgotten items before we left for the last time. Both remind me of an extremely over-used, but none the less apt, quote from Mark Twain: “Throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
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