Sometimes we make not so great decisions...even when we've already had the lesson before and experienced the repercussions. We had ANOTHER one of these experiences this week.
We enjoyed our time in Lucaya and were looking for a weather window for our next passage, to the Berry Islands. The distance was such that we needed a two day weather window so we would need to anchor out in Slaughter Bay Harbour and then go in to Great Harbour Cay Marina the following day. It was about 52 KM to Slaughter Bay which was doable for us with a cruising speed of 6 knots as long as we left early in the morning.
When looking at the weather, we had one good day on Tuesday. I already had some consulting work scheduled for that day and Wed. winds looked pretty heavy. The next good 2 day combination wasn't until the 27th and we REALLY wanted to be in the Berry Islands for Christmas. Sunday didn't look great. The winds were forecasted to be out of the southeast (exactly the direction we were headed) but only 8-11 knots with waves at 2 ft. at 4 seconds.
When we got out, we were seeing 6-8 ft seas at 2-3 seconds. Yes, we could've turned around but we kept saying...It's going to get better...The seas will like down. So we kept trudging along. While they did lay down at some point in the afternoon for a little bit, the majority of the 14 hr trip looked like this:
If you've never been in those conditions, it's like riding a bucking bronco. The bow goes up into the air then comes crashing down. You will fly if you're not holding onto something when that happens. When standing or moving about the boat, every muscle in your body needs to be held taught as you constantly move to keep your balance. You need at least 3 points of contact with the boat at all times. At ALL times...Because even though you might get a couple of rolling waves, you never know when that big one will come again.
The only other way to exist is to lay down. So, my sweetheart and I alternated turns at the helm to give each other a break. I snacked on bland foods but Robert didn't eat much all day. Luckily, neither one of us got sick. 14 hrs. later, in pitch black darkness, we navigated our way through the rocks into Slaughter Bay. We dropped the anchor as soon as was feasible and fell into an exhausted sleep in our relaxing area.
We couldn't sleep in our comfy v-berth because water had come through the forward hatch, drenching all our bedding. We had the hatch dogged down and Robert had added a foam sealing strip which we thought had solved our leak. We had the berth covered but the water soaked right through the initial cover and then ran off the ensuing one that I added in the midst of the trip when I noticed the other wasn't working. I didn't get it spread and propped in such a way that the water would run off onto the floor. Instead, it ran right onto the mattress. Ugh.
On top of needing to dry everything out, we quickly learned that saltwater had gotten into our fresh water tanks. It only took throwing out 2 pots of coffee thinking first it was the creamer, then the coffee, before we realized it was the water. (Hey, we were tired!) We thought it might be that we got bad water in Lucaya but when ALL the tanks tasted salty, we realized it must have been water leaking into the tanks from all the water washing over the boat. This resulted in emptying all the tanks, flushing them and re-filling with potable water. Water isn't cheap in the Bahamas!
We'd had this experience before and told ourselves, "never again". The last time it happened was extra fun because I had been hung over, got terribly sick and didn't dog down the forward hatch so water came pouring in as the hatch flew open. The whole boat had gotten wet!
When things like this happen, I have a tendency to go one of two ways...I either look for who or what's to blame. That damn weather app was wrong! OR, I beat myself up...My self talk turns to, "You should have known better. That was a stupid decision." Neither of those "come froms" are helpful. Blaming things outside myself puts me in the role of the victim and takes away my power. Beating myself up has me feel bad about myself and doesn't do anything to move me forward.
So, I get to look at this experience from a place of responsibility and see what lessons I can take from it. First, we can sail a schedule or sail the weather...Now that we're retired, let's stick with sailing the weather. My consults are flexible and Christmas would come no matter where we were. Next, in a go or no-go situation, going into the wind is a "no-go" no matter how calm the winds and seas are supposed to be. We don't need to physically or emotionally beat ourselves or our boat. Third, figure out a new solution for that forward hatch. Fourth, get those water tank covers sealed better.
AND, I can look at the good things that came out of the day. No one got hurt and nothing got broken. I did learn not to drink the night before a big passage so didn't get sick! As evidenced by our sore muscles, we both got a good workout. The sun was shining and the temperatures were comfortable. The surroundings we're beautiful. We got to watch the sun come up and go down over the water. The Christmas Star was almost in full alignment...It was beautiful. Emptying all the water out of our tanks brought a mother and baby manatee into the marina and we got to see them up close and personal. Finally, we learned what a tough old broad our Solveig is. She handled the beating like a champ and got us safely into the harbor. I never once doubted her...Or my sweetheart...or myself. I knew we could all handle the ride.