When we were planning this shindig cruise/sail/travel thing, we read all the common wisdom from others who had gone before us. ‘Set a date’, some said. ‘Your boat doesn’t have to be perfect! Don’t fall into that trap!”, said others. We’ve met a lot of people who have this dream and it never comes to fruition because let’s face it: staying is a lot easier than going. Lots of people make all these plans and never leave the dock.
Well, I’ll tell you. We didn’t have much trouble leaving the dock. I mean, we had to. We couldn’t afford to stay and keep paying the price of moorage. So ‘leaving the dock’ was just a necessity unless we wanted to go back to work. Leaving the southern part of Puget Sound, however, has been harder than we reckoned for. In the end, we had to practice what I’ve come to term ‘Nike Therapy’. I started using that term with my counseling and coaching clients when we’d come to a place where excuses would no longer work and there was failure to move forward. You know the marketing hype Nike has: “Just do it.” That’s all. You just get off your ass and do it. Yeah, it’s not always easy but sometimes it’s the only solution. And that’s how we came to finally attain ‘escape velocity’ and get the hell out of Gig Harbor. I’m not saying the time was perfect, and our boat certainly isn’t perfect, but the time was here. It was time to ‘just do it’ and get moving.
At the end of our first day we anchored right next to SV Cambria at Port Ludow. We had a pretty terrific day with speeds of 8.5 knots toodling up Colvos Passage. Then a stop at Shilshole Marina in Seattle where we topped off the diesel and water tanks, had an excellent visit with friends Lee Youngblood and Kathleen Scott Davis, then executed an absolutely flawless ‘get off the dock in high winds that are pushing you into the dock’ maneuver. Dang I was glad that turned out so well! Everyone knows how I feel about maneuvering this boat in marinas.
Still high from our visit to Shilshole we had a ripping good sail almost all the way to Port Ludlow. Great wind, tacking tracks to be proud of on the GPS, and we both began to get our ‘sailing’ legs back. It’s been awhile but the body remembers. Oh, yes. It sure does. It remembers things like how hard it is to climb up that companionway ladder at a 15 degree heel; how things slide off the workbench and onto the floor, how cooking at an angle is a bit of a challenge, that there’s a reason why all our drawers and cabinets have latches, and the fact that our cockpit is set up for motoring and dockside living. Not sailing. Decidedly not sailing. However, the words ‘ripping sail’ here also refers to what happened to our genoa as we approached Foul Weather Bluff.
You know what I hate? I hate when I say things out loud like, “Geez, Mike, I sure wish there had been time to tend to that tiny issue with fabric on the genoa before we left.” Because when the universe hears those words, suddenly time for that very thing is manifested! So this morning we will take the headsail down and examine the sacrificial cloth on the leach; the cloth that has now been sacrificed to the spreaders. We’re not sure about the damage yet. It’s too bad I couldn’t take a photo, but I was too busy minding the steering and helping Mike get the sail under control as he pulled it in. Oh sailing. Sheer bliss that, in a moment, turns into sheer terror. It’s why we love it.
We took this in stride, grateful it happened now, in a place where we can get it fixed or get another sail or whatever needs to happen. It’s very nice not to be stressed about it, and to know that this isn’t a vacation that was just ruined. Being stuck in Port Townsend for a few days will not come amiss. We were in good spirits as I went on deck to secure the halyards that were rattling.
So I’m up on deck minding my own halyard-securing business when suddenly a Coast Guard boat comes absolutely screaming around Foul Weather Bluff, lights flashing, siren blaring, rooster tail flying. I thought there must be some terrible emergency somewhere until I realized they were bearing down upon Galapagos at an alarming speed. Screeching to a halt close by in the power-boat rendition of a skid, they yell into their megaphone, “SAILBOAT! STOP! WHERE ARE YOU GOING?”. I almost wet myself. So many scenarios go through your mind at a time like that; a time when a machine gun is literally pointed at your boat for no good reason at all. I’m literally turning in circles on the deck looking at the surrounding area for something I’ve missed that could be causing these people to act like heathens.
I yell back (because they didn’t even have the grace to hail us on the radio) “Port Ludlow!”, but that was lost in the wind and they screamed at us again, “WHERE ARE YOU GOING?”. At this point I’m wondering if someone needed to go back to kindergarten to learn some manners and my hands are just that close to begin on my hips. I’m also ready to admit that it’s possible I do have a tiny library fine outstanding, and yes, I’m guilty of driving our boat on the wrong side of that last red channel marker (are they giving tickets now for that, too?) and one time I may have scooted under a traffic light just as it was turning red. Maybe Mike stocked an illegal amount of beer on the boat? I promise I’ll never do (fill in the blank here) again if they’ll just let me go this time.
I scream back at them, louder and with more emphasis, if not attitude, “PORT LUDLOW!!”. They lower the gun. I have given the correct answer and will not die today. Now they instruct us a little more calmly that we’ll need to slow down so that this big assed submarine and its bully boat escorts can pass in front of us. Yeah, apparently our big sailboat was going too fast. (Laughing my ass off!) Hey, no problem! We’re happy to do that. I’m giving them the ‘thumbs up’ signal all the way back to the cockpit. Hell, we’ll even drop anchor right here right now in the shadow of Foul Weather Bluff if you’ll just go away and leave us in peace.
I have a great deal of respect for the Coast Guard and understand they have an important and sometimes dangerous job. On the whole this was a humorous encounter. But really? Is this necessary? Is there some reason for terrorizing pleasure boaters going at a cool 5 knots? Hail me on the radio next time, Coast Guard. Or at least don’t treat us like criminals. Okay? Sure ‘preciate it. Also, I’d like to send you a bill for my laundry.
We’re in Port Ludlow for today and part of tomorrow. Then on to Port Townsend the day after that. We’ve got no plans. Just taking things as they come.
Sailing Vessel Galapagos, out.