Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Subject to Whim and Weather

Just three days ago we were planning on being in Dominica by today and to Trinidad in less than three weeks. Instead, we've just arrived in St. Martin, over 100 miles north of Dominica and will most likely stay here for a week or so before heading further. Now, we may or may not get to Trinidad and if so, it won’t be for at least a few months.


This new change in plans marks the third major departure from our original itinerary since November. It’s finally becoming clear to us that in sailing, when plans and realities align, it is the exception and not the rule of life. Of course, our cruising friends (including Kevin’s parents) have been telling us this for some time, and the ones who’ve been doing this the longest tend to formulate plans that go something like this… “Maybe we’ll go to X next week, but if not, then Y—or possibly Z if the wind backs to the north—but otherwise, we might just stay here until we decide to go to Q. Now that I live on a boat, this approach makes perfect sense; you never know if you’ll like a place (or its anchorages) before you arrive and more importantly, your means of transportation (and your safety) depend singularly on the weather—which to this point, we haven’t figured out how to control. Cruising reality dictates that plans (and people) stay flexible.

Before moving aboard, however, I couldn’t have conceived of life as a largely unplanned series of adventures. Sure it’s fine to keep options open for the short-term (as in maybe I’ll have a turkey sandwich for lunch….or maybe I’ll have soup), but who keeps schedules vague for months at a time? Not many people I know, to be sure. Before moving onto the boat, it seemed like everyone’s weekends were laid out weeks in advance, their holidays and vacations scheduled for many months and that they had jobs that required them to plan events and deadlines a year or more in advance. Life on land seems to require this approach (or at least that’s how it felt to me) so now I feel incredibly lucky that I’m being required think in a totally different way. No doubt, it will take some getting used to.

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