Fair Weather Sailor

People always say you need a shakedown cruise before you take your boat on a long journey. They’re absolutely right.

Our shakedown cruises were in and around San Francisco Bay in all types of weather. I learned a couple of things: first, our Nordic Tug 32 seems a lot sturdier than our Grand Banks 36 and second, I am still a fair weather sailor.

Being out in Carquinez Straits or San Francisco or Suisun Bay on a windy day when you’re motoring against the tide can be a wild ride and I often had bruises to show it. But it was great preparation for the Canadian Gulf Islands trip that seemed mild, except for the day we crossed the Straits of Georgia.

It was supposed to be a good day, mild wind, not too much chop, but the chop from the night before collided with the wind waves going in the opposite direction. We were caught in the middle and had the old washing machine effect…for five hours. It reminded me of the time seven years ago when we crossed St Andrew Sound near Jekyll Island, Georgia in the Grand Banks. Heavy wind, heavy chop, heavy bounce… I was sure I was going to die. I kept standing up in the fly bridge, my knuckles white on the grab bar, looking for the opposite shore. My husband kept saying, “Sit down, sit down.” Well…I guess he used a few stronger words.

Fortunately, my spouse is very calm and very experienced and very, very patient. He doesn’t shout, he doesn’t get mad, and sometimes he shakes his head and delays a departure to indulge me, knowing the boat can take a lot more weather than I can.

We leave Mobile Bay in three weeks. I look out the window and the wind is howling and I look out to sea and it looks frothy and angry. Fortunately we’re not going this week. And if departure day is blustery, my patient spouse will reluctantly delay a day. But this trip is 5,000 miles and we have only seven months to do it. Delays won’t be often.

Next week: Getting the Boat Splashed and Ready

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