Passage Recovery, A Note from El Capitan

by Andrew Godfrey in

Sailing Sucks/Maybe it is not that bad/Lets Go Sailing! 

I am not sure what to title this post.  I am even struggling what to make of the combined experience myself.  We have a rule that we stole from another sailing blog that no large decisions can be made within 3 days of a sailing passage.  The reasoning is that sometimes the sailing part sucks a lot and you will want to quit and sell the boat immediately.  After a couple days on the destined land, your memories will soften and you will start to remember the sailing trip as “not that bad”.  If there was a business with a sign that said “we buy boats for cash” at theport I would have sold my 11 year dream for a song on day one and caught the first flight home.  

All the other blogs out there do a very poor job of showing how miserable sailing is.  So for any of you dreamers out there I am going to set the record straight.  I had a friend ask me if I am ever scared.  My answer was that I have been nearly constantly out of my comfort zone since the last day of my job when I cleaned the house of my previous life belongings and moved onto an ocean going boat.  Layered upon that is an honest to God level of fear that I have never felt outside of quick moments of a car crash or near miss.  The fear that can seep into your cells when you are DAYS away from anything, haven’t seen land in weeks, haven't even seen a cargo ship in a few days, is powerful.  That peak level of fear rides you 24 hours a day for days on end.  Even your dreams conspire against you and sleep offers no respite.  Not only that, but I am the captain, I am responsible for the souls on board my vessel, and although you have a similar responsibility when speeding around in your car, I have never felt the weight of a soul yoked to my neck.  I consider myself to have a pretty strong and stable mental state, but I cracked a little. 

Then the wind shifts in the night, we start making miles toward our destination.  I wake up and can feel that we are heading in the right direction and for the first time in days I don't have that lump in my stomach that is a fear of a lonely death at sea.  The day is beautiful and I am enjoying the act of sailing and looking forward to the destination that is finally in reach.  

We anchor and the memories of the fear are still fresh, I am hoping to find a yacht broker and an airport on this tiny outpost of a town.  We get our boat searched and are checked in by a very efficient team of 10 officials all on the boat at the same time.  I am just trying to hold it together honestly, I just want to lie laughing hysterically on the floor.  After 21 days of only a single other person, to have 10 people on my boat is overwhelming.  Their fractured English and my even more fractured Spanish gets us thru the process and we are officially in the Galapagos.  The boat must be fumigated so we have to leave and go to land for at least three hours.  Fine, maybe that yacht broker is still open.

There are several more officials that just wouldn't fit in this picture.  You'll have to trust me.

There are several more officials that just wouldn't fit in this picture.  You'll have to trust me.

There is an extremely efficient water taxi system here.  For $0.50 pp USD you can get a ride from your boat to the pier.  You simply hail them on VHF14 and they come right out to your boat.   Worth every cent that I don't have to put the dingy together.  Once on land we start walking toward the beach just to the side of town.  There are tropical fruits on a shelf for sale by the side of the road.  Mexico was wonderful, but the scenery was very similar to the rocky desert views we had experienced on Lake Mead.  As we walk thru town everything is green, I am starting to feel like we have actually gone somewhere in our little spacecraft, “we are not in Kansas anymore Toto”.  There are food vendors set up there and we grab a grilled plantain with cheese and sit on the beach for a while.  We walk back to town for dinner and over a beer I stew on how to sell the boat.  We catch a taxi back to the boat, open all the windows to let the roach poison out, and sleep a full night for the first time in three weeks.   

P.S. Julie Williams, we finally found the Black Pearl!

Day two is more exploring, more eating, more relaxing.  I still have not found that damn yacht broker.

Day three, is a mixture of fun and pain.  I buy 75 gallons of diesel fuel in 10 gallon pails which I have to syphon into my tank on the boat ($2.85/gallon if you are curious).  By syphon I mean I literally stick one end of a hose into the fuel and suck on the other end to start it flowing.  Diesel fuel does not taste as bad as gasoline in case you were wondering.  By the end of the process I have diesel up to my elbows and in my mouth and on my clothes.  My arms and legs are tired from moving and lifting the containers around.  See how much fun this lifestyle is, are you jealous yet?!  We catch another water taxi into town, we rent bikes for more exploring, more eating, more beer.

Day four and I am having fun.  The food, particularly the street food and tropical fruit juices, are amazing.  The people are friendly, the island is beautiful and the animal life of this place is off the charts.  I have completely forgotten to look for the yacht broker today.  I am actually starting to think that the 30 day sail I have in front of me to get to the Marquesas doesn't sound that bad.  We can just buy a big bunch of bananas and some passion fruit and some papaya and we would be set for food.  Let’s go sailing!