Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Why I like overnights...

A few weeks ago, Karen made a posting about her experience with overnight passages. A couple of days later she said, "why don't you make a posting about overnights too." You and I both know that there's something else she was after with this, and I think it's the F-word: feelings.

There was a time when we didn't ever do an overnight crossing. Much of that was due to lack of experience but it was also about wanting to see everything. We wanted to slowly pass by ever port and see all of the sites. The ICW was new to us and there was something different around every bend. By the second time back and forth along the ICW, the bends were becoming familiar. From then on, I didn't feel like I really needed to walk the streets of Beaufort, NC or meander through the shops of Beaufort, SC. Our cruising turned into going somewhere and enjoying a single area for a longer period of time. Cruising between the ports is somewhat mechanical. Overnights allowed us to put miles on quickly and get to our destinations.

But there's more to it than that. In the fifteen or so overnights that we've completed (including 2 double-overnights), I've grown to love an element about them that can be described in just one word: trust.

When you head off through an inlet and into an ocean, there are a variety of types of trust you need to have as you watch the sun setting along the horizon. First, you have to trust your equipment. You have to know it and have experience with it and believe how it's going to work for you. You have to have trust in your backup equipment and safety gear. Given the coastal cruising we do, our dinghy is most probably our safety vessel if the mother ship ever sinks but we also carry a full survival liferaft with provisions along with a fully stocked ditch bag with safety, medical, and other emergency provisions. We have an EPIRB that will send a transponding signal to the Coast Guard if we're ever in serious trouble and we now have a SPOT Messenger that will also alert an organization if we press the 9-1-1 button.

Trust in the equipment and experience with it are easy to obtain.  There's another type of trust that isn't easy to obtain - trust in your crew. Some of that comes with experience too but some is just the crew itself. I know that Karen is extremely capable and safe. I know that we work together well as a team and I know I can rely on her in any situation under any circumstance. That's trust.

When we were doing our last overnight between Fernandina Beach and Cape Canaveral, Karen took over the watch at 3 am and I went to sleep. Sleeping after a watch is some of the most enjoyable sleeping you'll ever do because you're tired and you know that you've done your part and can just sleep. At 4:30 am, Karen woke me up because there was something on the radar that she didn't like. The first rule about getting woken up is "wake up happy." I knew that Karen wouldn't get me up unless there was something going on that she needed help with. I wasn't upset about being woken up. I was glad that she did it. That's trust.

And of course you need to have trust with the rest of your crew. I know that Dyna and Dylan are healthy, stable dogs, able to handle a variety of different situations. During an overnight, they are quieter and stay together, often sleeping together. I'm sure it's more comforting for them because it can't be easy for them either. When we pull out of a harbor, they don't know if we're staying out for an hour or multiple days. And yet I know that they'll be OK. After all, they trust us too.

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