Friday, January 1, 2016

Ruminations on the Second Voyage and/or things we learned along the way

Editor’s Note: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know…we got to San Diego in late October and I’m just now posting my summation, but it’s taken this long for the shock of having actually completed a 1300-mile journey to wear off. That and we discovered the Tipsy Crow bar. At any rate…

Agendas are great so long as you don’t have to abide by them. I understand that it’s not always possible to travel sans timetable. Editor’s Note: The Captain says I use the word “sans” too much and that no one under 30 knows what it means. He says that’s why restaurant servers give me “that look” when I order a “cheeseburger sans vegetables” and why I shouldn’t get upset when my burger arrives with a carrot stick impaling the lettuce and tomato firmly to the bun. But I digress. When we set out, we were expecting a two and a half to three week voyage depending on weather conditions. Wasn’t that wise of us to allow an extra few days for bad weather? Ha! We should have known better—we were two days late leaving. Had we been planning realistically, we would have taken our estimated travel time, doubled it to account for weather, and then multiplied that sum by three to accommodate the inevitable breakdowns. (Using this formula we actually arrived in San Diego a month ahead of schedule so well done, us!) Luckily, we are “adventuring” so there was really no reason why we needed to adhere to a strict timetable. We only had two stipulations—we wanted to get down the Washington and Oregon coasts before the fog rolled in in October and we wanted to round Point Conception before the winds hit in November. Check and check.

But the best thing about not having a schedule? It alleviates some of the pressure of getting “stuck” and you actually get to see and enjoy places you might not have. Would we have travelled north to visit Bodega Bay, Sebastopol, Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, etc. had we made it to San Diego in two to three weeks? Probably not. And more importantly, we would have missed out on meeting some great people, including our new friends, Richard the Mechanic and his wife, Cathy.

If the first time sucked, why risk it a second time? People ask us when we’re heading back to Washington (I’m hoping that’s just small talk and they’re not trying to get rid of us already) and our stock answer is “never”. We spent 25 years in the Pacific Northwest and don’t regret a day of it, but there’s a bigger world out there and when you have the opportunity to do something really adventurous, bold, and stupid all at the same time, why not go for it? But the truth of the matter is that we are not planning on bringing the boat back to Washington because that would necessitate a revisit of Capes Mendocino, Blanco and Flattery and once is enough for all of us, thank you. (Besides, my hoodie is finally drying out.) It’s a given that we still have many harrowing passages ahead of us. (That’s an understatement. In planning out our next voyage, we have already identified three bodies of water and at least two countries where we will most likely die.) But at least these new adventures will have different and/or exotic scenery, warmer water and even balmier temps, and people who speak weird and wonderful languages.  

Just accept the fact that you will be uncomfortable. Not all of the time of course, but most every voyage will have patches of unease, unpleasantness, and a general feeling of “stop this thing, I want to get off”. That first night rounding Cape Flattery and battling the northern Washington coast was a true eye-opener. I thought I knew what I was getting myself into, but nothing really prepared me for the reality. I knew it could get rough, but I had no idea how wind and waves truly throw a boat around. I figured I’d get sick, but I didn’t appreciate how debilitating it would be. I thought I’d be terrified, but I was so focused on functioning through the chaos that I didn’t find the time to be scared. However, the one big take-away from that first tumultuous passage was that Raven could handle it. The question we had to ask ourselves was, could we?

I read somewhere that you can endure anything as long as you know it’s going to end. Kind of like a root canal or Walmart on the day before Christmas (Don’t ask. It was an emergency.) Now “endure” can mean “withstand”, it can certainly mean “suffer”, but it can also mean “experience”. I may never get used to the rough stuff—and I need to resign myself to the fact that “uncomfortableness” just goes along with the territory, especially when the territory is big, wet and full of weather—but I can resolve to focus on the “experience”, learn from it, and have faith that we will make it through in one piece. And if we don’t? Well…we chose to be out here so if our death certificate says, “Misadventure by Large Squid” we only have ourselves to blame.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s the big sh*t that’ll suck the life out of you. During the first voyage, it was the manifold; this second voyage was all about the transmission. I can’t easily remember now all the little things that went wrong in, around, and between these events. They were like the pebbles you kick to the side to make way for the boulder coming straight at you. But unlike the manifold debacle and the soul-crushing vacuum that was Campbell River, we weathered “trial by transmission” with a bit more grace. Perhaps it was because we broke down not in just one place, but four (variety being the spice of life and all that); maybe it’s because we weren’t in a huge hurry and actually enjoyed the places we were in (see “agenda” above); or maybe it’s because we ran out of sh*ts to give somewhere around Santa Cruz. But grace aside, we’d be lying if we said the transmission and its will it/won’t it propensity to screw the pooch wasn’t weighing in the back of our minds the whole trip down. And that did, unfortunately, take a little of the joy out of the voyage. But perhaps this has steeled us for the next time something should go awry. (And no, that’s not pessimistic. It’s not even realistic. It’s boat-istic.)  Although it would be nice if, for once, what went awry was something small, not 100% necessary, and cost under a boat buck. Like the ice maker. (Okay, so something small.)

And lastly, remember why you’re doing this, even when you can’t remember. Wait…hold on…I’m sure it will come to me. No. Lost it.

Pictured: Jellyfish.
Not Pictured: Relevance. (It is a good picture though, huh?)