It’s January 22, and we’re less than a month away from our
departure date. The Big Day is February 14, when we begin our trip
south – towing
the boat from the snowy Catskills to
Here's a more recent photo of the boat, tarped and snowbound in the barn. . . .
We love winter here, and we'll miss the wonders of early spring, but we figure that we can miss out on it this one year.
Soon we'll uncover the boat, tow it out, and do a tricky three-point turn backing uphill to get it turned around and facing down our driveway. If it slips sideways, the trailer could jackknife and really mess things up. That, and getting down the steep first hundred yards of our icy driveway, may be the hardest parts of our whole journey. Tire chains will be involved, and lots of sand and salt. After that . . . smooth sailing (I hope).
We've been thinking and planning and preparing for over a year now. And we're finally ready . . . almost. Just filling in a few small items on our lists. Sunscreen, bug spray, and antibiotics have just been procured. We need to pressure-can a few more batches of chicken and beef. We need to figure out whether we can bring bread in some form that won't mildew immediately, or if we should make it ourselves on the boat. We have piles of supplies spilling out all over our house. Boxes of granola bars, containers of Parmalat milk, peanut butter, pasta, soups, stews, cereal . . . innumerable electrical cords, batteries, safety harnesses and tethers. And all the gadgets: GPS, VHF radio, shortwave radio receiver, satellite phone, cell phone, barometer, anemometer, laptop computer, etc. Nautical charts, books, folders full of information. We keep making lists of things to do, things to remember . . . then we work our way through the lists, cross all the items off . . . and start new lists. It all seems so simple in concept (Pack up the boat and go!), yet so complex in the doing. Our pet care is another complex matter (horses, cats, chickens, dog). They've all been provided for, in different ways.
So, our plan is: maybe on February 17th or 18th we’ll
launch the boat at the Crandon
Marina on Key Biscayne and wait for a good weather window to sail it
Bimini, the first island in the
Our boat is a water-ballasted
shallow-draft yawl. That means we can go places many boats
can't. We can float in 10 inches of water -- maybe 11 inches weighed
down with all the food
on board. . . . And the Bahamas have a lot of shallow water. So I'm
excited to have a purpose-built shallow-water sailboat in this
shallow-water sailing paradise. Can't wait to explore every little
park it on sandbars and let the tide run out from under us, to pull
right up to the beach and hop out on land to walk and play. I like
knowing that we can anchor in out-of-the-way places, too, if we need to
seek shelter from stormy winds.
The boat is pretty spare as sailboats go, and we don't really think
of this as a "cruise" -- it's more of an extended water-borne camping
trip. We will bring enough food to be completely self-sufficient.
Though I do hope to catch fish and lobster and conch to supplement our
Along the way we will be homeschooling the girls on the boat, and
trying to learn as much about the world around us as we possibly can.
Tropical fish species, conchs, iguanas, sea urchins, coral, and even
sharks, which are fairly common there. Most of them, the smaller reef
sharks and the nurse sharks, are not aggressive to humans, and you can
snorkel with them nearby. We'll
try to identify them, and not get too scared by them. However, if we
identify a 14' tiger shark, we will levitate straight up out of the
water and into the boat . . . We'll snorkel every
day, and walk on small islands, collecting shells and flotsam. We also
look forward to visiting some of the small towns along the way and
meeting the local people. And we look forward to meeting fellow
boaters, especially boating families with kids the same age as ours.
Then in early April we'll point our bow back north and start for
. . . We
have to be back by the end of Roxbury Central School's April break, the
24th latest, but we'll
probably aim for the 15th or so, to leave ourselves leeway in case of
weather along the way.
That’s the general plan, anyway. It will be interesting
to see if
actually we do anything close to it. As Dwight Eisenhower said, "Plans
mean nothing, but planning is everything." I.e., learn as much as you
can before setting out, but be prepared to scrap all your itineraries
and be flexible as necessary. So if we wind up in Brazil, I'm sure
there was a good reason for it. . . .
Check back here for periodic
updates. We should be able to post at least a little news every day
once we're sailing.
we have a good wifi connection, we’ll be able to upload photos.