Tuesday Oct 26; Luke, one of my oldest friends called. “Buying a sail boat and need help sailing it from Maine to North Carolina. The sale isn’t final and I need to get insurance and an experienced Captain to help. That should happen in the next few days. I have to sail south before it starts to snow in Maine.” I started weighing the chance of this actually happening. Sounded like a lot of things needed to fall into place in a short time, so I was figuring maybe a 30% chance. Too low a possibility to concern Helen with it. She already has a lot on her plate, no need to unnecessarily have her think I might have to fly to Maine and sail down the Eastern Seaboard, at a moment’s notice.
Wednesday; Luke called back, “it’s on and we have leave to leave in a week.” Unfortunately that wasn’t going to work for me. We had long ago booked to stay in a cabin on the water that we wouldn’t be able to cancel. The timeline didn’t line up. I did mention the scheme to Helen, just in case, but she agreed there was no way it could work.
Another day, another call from Luke on Thursday. Change of plans. There was a good weather window in a few days. “We can get you back in time for your trip but you have to get here soon, so we can launch Monday at first light.”
We have a travel philosophy that if a unique opportunity comes up; just say yes. It has almost always worked out. This definitely fell into that category. I ran the new plan by Helen and I got the “are you kidding me?” look. But after some quick processing she also realized the potential of this endeavor; “you should go – it sounds like an amazing adventure, BUT – you better not miss our plan to go away.” I then told her I might have to fly at 6 am that Sunday. A sideways glance and a long pause, “Too early, take a Uber, I am not driving you.” She is not much of a morning person. I immediately texted Luke and his wife, Vanessa,”it’s on! but if I’m not back in time SHE WILL KILL US ALL!”
One other minor wrinkle. We were staying with friends for the next two nights, which meant I would get back home with only about 12 hours before my flight. In that time I still had to finish up some work, pack, tie up some other random things AND try to get some sleep before the alarm at 3 am.
Got the work done and started to pack. You would think by now I would be good at packing and getting ready for a trip quickly. I am not. Must be hereditary, my parents were terrible at packing for a trip. Finished at 11pm so my list of other things went by the wayside. The alarm went off but I still didn’t really have it together! Thankfully my lovely wife got up, got me on track and got me out the door.
Made it in plenty of time to the airport and once on the flight, I started to get my head around what I had signed up for. I was a little apprehensive. Me, Luke, H and Vanessa had taken the first two certifications of the American Sailing Association in the Bahamas almost fifteen years ago. Basically we learned how to sail a 30ft boat. Luke’s new boat is 47ft. And of course, I haven’t retained much of those courses from long ago; (nothing to do with the beautiful Bahamian rum of all shades that I imbibed during that trip,) and I haven’t sailed a boat since.
Now I’ve signed up to sail down the Atlantic Coast in November and I don’t really know what I am doing. Which side is port again? I didn’t want to be a liability, and this wasn’t going to be a leisurely cruise. We would be going non-stop day and night. It was going to be an all-out race to beat the weather.