Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Padanaram, MA, to Sakonnet, RI

23.7 nm
Wind: SW 5 knots to calm
Maximum speed: 6.2 knots
Maximum speed under sail: 3.3 knots
Average speed: 3.8 knots
Latitude: 41°29.35’N
Longitude: 071°14.57’W

Our second day as cruisers. Or sea gypsies, or whatever you want to call us. I call us free. Free to follow the path we choose, at last. Without even white blazes to mark the way. We didn’t get very far today—we never get very far—but at least we’re out of Massachusetts. I had a great time in Massachusetts, but I hope it’s a long time before I’m back.

It’s funny, though, a short day sailing is the same as my longest day hiking on the Appalachian Trail. I definitely was a lot more tired at the end of that day. I’m tired today, too, but in a different way. Tired, but utterly, utterly happy. Everything in the world is perfect.

We didn’t have much wind today, which is why we didn’t get very far. We motored out of Padanaram, lifted our sails, and sailed for a while, at a fairly good pace. But by the time we got out into the bay the wind had completely died, so we succumbed to the lure of the engine. We motored the rest of the day, way out into the Atlantic, taking anything but a direct course, and using five gallons of diesel, we figure. That’s fifteen dollars, so it was a pretty expensive day of sailing. We’re torn between using our engine when there’s no wind so we can get south faster, or using our sails even though they’re slower, and getting more experience sailing.

In any case, life is perfect. We even initiated our autopilot, named “Master Tiller.” The autopilot is an absolutely ancient piece of electronics—basically some wires connected to a compass. But it worked more or less perfectly, even though it’s probably as old as the boat. I’m not sure how well it will hold up to big wind, or how much electricity it takes, but at least when we’re motoring it works fantastic, and that’s when hand-steering is the most tedious.

I’m sleepy, but I have to start writing a novel tonight. The main reason I decided to begin cruising is because I thought it would free up my time to write. In some ways it has, but I haven’t taken advantage of the time at my disposal yet at all. Two days before I left, on Monday, I somehow connected to the National Novel Writing Month website. It’s an organization, set up by a group of crazy, ambitious friends in San Francisco, who decided to start writing a novel every November. It doesn’t matter how bad it is, all that matters is that you complete 50,000 words by November 30.

So I signed up. You may think that’s rather far-fetched—journaling every night about my day, sailing all day every day, establishing this new life for myself, AND writing a novel, all in the month of November? But heck, what am I if not ambitious? If I fail, I will fail laudably. Finding that site seemed like a sign from God. If I’m sailing to write, then I’d better write. I fear my novel may be nautically themed, but so was Moby Dick. One has worse footsteps to follow in than Herman Melville’s.

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