Thursday, July 12, 2007

Long Bay, Bahamas

0 nm
Wind: E-SE 10-15 knots, gusting to 20 (or higher???) at midday

I’m in agonizing indecision today. Today was our day to head south, farther on to the next island, to press on to our nonexistent but tyrannical ultimate destination. Of course we didn’t leave. And why? The wind, always the wind.

Everyone speaks of the agony of defeat, but I firmly believe that indecision is far, far worse. Neither of us are any good at all at decision-making, and it is our fatal flaw as aspiring professional adventurers. It may, ultimately, lead to our downfall, especially if we get trapped by a malicious but seasonable hurricane. I keep rehashing all the details of our recent white-knuckled sail, the vagaries of the mechanized weather report, the entrancing welcome of this community, the whims of our budget and the possibility of employment, and I can’t quite decide whether or not we made the right decision. I can’t figure it out.

Karl hates how I do this. He procrastinates indefinitely on decisions too, but when he decides, he does something--like that Appalachian Trail. He had talked about hiking it, planned, bought equipment, and then didn’t do it. For five years. Five years later, in March, two weeks before his aunt drove down to Georgia, he decided to hitch a ride with her and go do it. On the other hand, I spent five years in planning and soul-searching, with a 2004 D-day of March 1 written in my day-planner years ahead of time.

So all day today I’ve been hashing and rehashing all the variables and complexity, whereas Karl had the simple thought: “It’s too windy. We shouldn’t go.” And then had nary another worry. This is why Healer, our tai chi master from the Pacific Crest Trail, told him he had a “quiet mind.”

I have the opposite of a quiet mind. I have a very, very loud mind. I have a loud enough mind for the both of us. That’s why I write and he doesn’t. If he had to hear me talk about all the stuff I write about, he’d go crazy. He doesn’t even like reading what I write sometimes. He hates to hear all my complaining, all my talk about the chaos and work of boat life, all my agonizing and soul-searching. He likes the entries where I settle into contentment, where I decide all our effort has been worth it, that we are in the right place, doing the right thing.

I can’t always be like that, though. As today: the wind, according to our guidebook, is perfect for sailing. Perfect. The forecast today is for ten knots out of the east, which would give us an ideal overnight close reach down to Samana Cay. The seas are supposed to be 3-5 feet, manageable and mild. The wind’s supposed to stay this calm until Monday, giving us plenty of time to make the safe harbor of Abraham Bay in Mayaguana, the last stop before the Turks and Caicos. So why didn’t we leave? The wind feels much, much stronger. It feels like 20-25 knots. We can hear it in the rigging, and it’s whipping the tarp around, swinging the boat right and left at anchor, pulling on our anchor chain. The trees ashore seem to be rushing about in a frenzy totally unlike that of ten knots of wind.

What are we to do? The forecast says one thing, but our gut says another. We have no windmeter, so there’s no way to verify externally our intuitive perception. I hate that--I like numbers and instruments and proof. I hate trusting my gut, which seems to me intrinsically untrustworthy. Are these winds just normal summer pre-Caribbean trades? If so, how in the world are we ever going to make it to the Turks and Caicos, let alone the Dominican Republic? Have we been made chary and chicken by our experience the other day? Was that sail even as bad as we thought it was, or is our inexperience rearing its ugly head? We’re not racers, we’re not even cruisers, for heaven’s sake. Did we come out with a boat that has more pep and vigor than we as sailors do? Worse yet, did we come out with the wrong boat? Or is it merely the call of land that’s causing our reluctance? Should we listen to our subconscious impulses and settle down and find work? Participate in a community for a little while? If we can’t get out of here on a ten-knot day, how will we ever leave?

God only knows.

No comments: