How we handle disappointment says a lot about us, I suppose. Life is too short to dwell upon our disappointments, but I must let you know that the boat I was to sail the Caribbean this winter was a complete mess.

Not only had the owners tried to move their 3000 square foot home into their 43 foot boat, but they neglected to install many, if not most, major systems needed for sailing. Also, they had not kept her is shape during the years they owned her. They invited four persons to come on as crew; unfortunately three had no sailing experience, and I have very little, none of it on blue water. We also found out that they don’t have much experience either, at least, much less that they let on. Needless to say we felt mislead.

So… after working 12 to 14 hour days for one week trying to get the boat ready, we left the marina in Kemah for Galveston which is directly on the Gulf of Mexico. It was raining, the boat was leaking all over Geoff’s bed and galley counters. The captain, could not see the navigational buoys very well, and decided to turn back after only 30 minutes. That was a very good decision, as he had not installed the navigational lights yet! We would have been sailing an unlit boat in very busy waters after dusk.

The next day, all the crew decided to abandon the ship. We didn’t have confidence in the captain or the boat.

We rented a car and drove to Florida. Patrick and Jessie went to his parents’ place. Geoff and I headed for Fort Lauderdale to hang out, before heading off to Cuba where we plan to help a friend build a house and visit the eastern end of the island.

After that, I hope to go diving in Mexico, and maybe find another boat to sail on… Time will tell.
Wish me luck.


Thinking about sailing

Going Sailing in the Caribbean
Well,l I should start with the offer to sail on “Our Joy” with Rockne and Pam Ragsdale of Dallas, Texas.
No, not really it should go back two years when I started taking sailing classes and racing two or three times a week at our local sailing club.
Maybe it goes back to the shemozzle I had with Cuso over my offer to volunteer in Peru.
Or to my love of travel and my fascination with the sea. Why did I ever learn to scuba dive when I was afraid to snorkel and even more uncomfortable swimming?
Back to 1975 when I sailed with four Peace Corps volunteers around the island of Santa Isabel in the Solomon Islands. .. Perhaps the seed was planted then.
Maybe my upbringing in the Canadian prairies gave me a longing for the ocean.
Wherever I got the bug, I have just accepted to spend the winter on an Endeavour 43, named “Our Joy” sailing around the Caribbean.
The owners, Rockne and Pam Ragsdale plan to leave Kemah, Texas on December first, 2016. I will be one of the crew, hopefully the least experienced.
Last winter as I travelled the length of Chile from North to South and then back again through Western Argentina to Mendoza, I felt sorry I hadn’t got to know the people of either country in any depth. That started me thinking of alternative ways of spending my winters.
Cuso came to mind: a volunteer organization that sends professionals to developing countries. I knew of a project they had in Peru helping disadvantaged youth find work. So I applied and was accepted by the main office here in Ottawa. Unfortunately for me, the local organization chose someone else. The same thing happened with the job in Bogota, Colombia, and again in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
Fed up, other possibilities came to mind. House-sitting, for example, might be interesting except that everyone wants you to look after their precious dogs, cats, goats, and horses. How can a person even explore the neighbourhood when you have to give Puss his medication three times a day? And Rex needs to be walked morning and evening.
Crewing on a sailboat has always intrigued me, but I didn’t want to be someone’s captive mistress for weeks on end. Many of the skippers looking for crew should actually write “screw”; they are so pathetic.
Fortunately, while looking at all these forlorn offers, Rockne and Pam’s ad caught my eye. We had a skype interview, and the discussion began. First impressions were good. Their itinerary is excellent. Texas across the Gulf of Mexico to Cuba, then to Cozumel, Roatan, The Cayman Islands, Jamaica, The Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and then into the West Indies. Who could ask for a better way to spend a winter?
It will be a steep learning curve for me never having sailed on the ocean except as a guest and cook. I hope to learn a lot about sailing, about looking after a boat, about astronomy, weather forecasting, local birds, fish and coral. Diving will be a frequent pastime. Learning to cook in a moving vessel, exploring the local foods, baking bread, sprouting lentils and other seeds, and making yogurt will stretch my cooking skills. Socializing with other yachties and hopefully locals will occupy many evenings while anchored. During the day, we will explore the islands, climb the trails, and learn as much as we can about the local culture, history, food, and people.
During quiet time, reading, writing, exercising, and meditating will fill up the gaps when I am not otherwise occupied. While on watch, I will practise knots and listen to music, practise my navigation skills and learn about celestial navigation and the ways of the seas in general.
Wish me luck, my friends. I am excited, nervous, and just a bit scared!