Reality Check

So here we are cruising the idyllic waters of the Bahamas, anchoring in turquoise bays, snorkeling coral reefs, sand crusting between our toes as we walk barefoot along a pristine beach. We sail where we like, when we like, the sun on our faces, the breeze at our backs. We end each day sipping a glass of gently chilled Chardonnay and watching fire-streaked sunsets.

How I wish that were true. So far, it’s not.

Though the scenery in the Bahamas is indeed stunning, sailing these waters is proving far trickier and more nerve-wracking than Eric and I imagined. Shallow water, strong currents and frequent wind shifts make both sailing and anchoring a dodgy business. We spend hours each day tracking the weather and obsessively studying the cruising guides and charts. Normally, I love looking at maps. Now it feels an awful lot like cramming for a college exam in an extremely tough course.

Despite our best efforts, we’ve already run aground once in a narrow channel when I took my eyes off the depth sounder for less than a minute. No damage—we were in soft mud, and the rising tide eventually floated us off. Nevertheless, it was a demoralizing experience. The next day the wind blew stronger than predicted, our anchor dragged, and unable to find good holding we had to put out to sea for the night. At least in deep water, with no shoreline or rocks to run into, I feel safe.

But beyond the sailing, we’ve had to contend with new engine issues and a seeming malfunction involving another significant piece of our equipment. Which is why, rather than idling on some tropical island, we are in a ratty marina in Nassau—it’s the only place the parts and services we need are available—and where I am at this moment trapped in the marina laundry in a pelting rainstorm with no Wi-fi and damp laundry because once you open the dryer door—surprise!—it doesn’t restart.

Now I can’t get back to the boat without getting drenched. The same goes for trying to dash across the busy road to Starbucks where Eric is, at this moment comfortably ensconced with full Internet access and a delicious coffee to boot. It wasn’t raining when he left, and I was supposed to join him as soon as the clothes were dry—see above.

So what do you do when your dreams don’t match the reality? We’ve spent the last two years, thousands of hours, and a good deal of money preparing Corroboree and ourselves for this voyage. One way or another, we’ve solved every problem that has arisen, including finding the parts and a mechanic to resolve our latest engine glitch.

But after our successful crossing of the Gulf Stream, we thought we were on track. We thought we had a handle on this. Instead we find ourselves on another steep learning curve. Will it ever get any easier? Will we ever feel confident? It’s especially hard when your family and friends are rooting for you. We don’t want them to worry on our behalf.

Most of all, we don’t want to complain about our lot. No matter what happens, we never, ever forget how fortunate we are to be able to do this. But we also don’t want to be dishonest. There are times it’s not fun. There are times it downright sucks. Right now, this is one of them, and I can either stare at the rain or do something about it.  

The downpour be damned. Never mind that I’m going to look like a drowned cat. Computer in one hand, laundry bag in the other, Eric and Starbucks here I come.