Friday, July 28, 2017

2007 v 2017

A few differences
July 4 and July 14, 2017 (combined journal entries)
West End and en route between Allens-Pensacola and Maniack Cays

cooking dinner on the beach, fresh hog fish that Hans speared that afternoon.

homemade Bingo. Practicing for Cap'n Jacks in Hope Town

Trying to get the kids to do chores.
It's like pulling teeth and the amount of whining is insane.

My mom asked me the other day how this trip is different from life on s/v Whisper. Is it ever! It’s like comparing apples and oranges. Rather, it’s like comparing kale and chocolate ice cream. That’s to be expected though.

Not  only is it a comparison of powerboat versus sailboat, it’s a comparison of limited time v. endless time and life with kids v. pre-kid life. The differences go on and on. There are some elements of life on Whisper that I yearn for, whereas there are times now that I’m more relaxed and filled with more joy and content happiness than I was on Whisper.

Life on Whisper was alternately stressful and pure bliss. It was a hedonistic life where our only goal was to find fun and have fun. We sailed from one beautiful island to the next - drinking rum, hitchhiking, snorkeling, diving for lobster, napping, cooking, and reading books. These lazy, gluttonous, carefree days were punctuated by intense stress. We were new boaters and had a lot to learn. Sailing was easy; it was all the other seamanship skills that were hard. Navigation, weather watching, choosing safe anchorages, maintaining the boat - these are not all intuitive and we learned as we went. This naturally lead to disagreements since Hans and I both have the tendency to believe that we are right. We learned to trust each other, to let go, and to work together. We learned which decisions are worth arguing over and which are better to let go.

All this learning - both the nuts and bolts of boating and how to work together - has come to the forefront now. Boating with kids is a whole new ballgame. Thank goodness we’re at a competent level with our boating skills. We don’t need to overthink anchoring, navigation, or weather. One of us makes a decision and the other one trusts that decision. If something breaks, Hans (almost always) knows how to fix it. The stress that can come from the concrete skills of boating is minimal (not that we’re experts, far from it), which is good, because the kids provide enough stress to keep us busy. Stock up on ice because sundowners are a necessity.

It’s not just us anymore - we have two small humans onboard that we need to keep safe and healthy - and if they’re happy, that’s an added bonus.

In a more general perspective, the major difference between cruising in 2007 and 2017 is technology - specifically telecommunications.

Back in 2007 we more or less threw our cellphones (flip phones) overboard as we crossed the Gulf Stream. The only way to reach us was via email and the only time we checked email was when we took our computer ashore and found a wifi connection, normally at a bar. Our parents were a little concerned that every time we chatted on Skype we were calling from a bar. We were always at the bar? Always at a bar with a cold beer in hand.

We received our weather reports on our SSB (single sideband) radio - a dinosaur of metal and plastic that could tune in radio stations from all over. We could dial in Chris Parker, sailors’ favorite weather router, or chat with a HAM operator who was living in an underground bunker in Minnesota. (We didn’t, but we could.)

We connected our SSB to our computer with an auto line and downloaded weather faxes from NOAA. When I say downloaded, remember it wasn’t with an internet connection, it was through radio signals on the SSB. Very old school. Our favorite was a map of our forecast region that showed current weather trends - troughs, highs, and low pressure systems. We combined that information with Chris Parker’s daily report and local information to get the general weather gist. It was a great system, albeit labor intensive, and we always felt confident about our weather reports.

Weather forecasting has gotten slightly easier in 2017. Grab my phone, open up NOAA’s marine forecast and, after a minute or so (it’s only a 2G connection, already included in our Sprint monthly plan and available over the Bahamas cell towers), voila! There’s our weather report. For better or worse, we’ve had an internet connection the entire way through the Abacos. Search the horizon for a Batelco tower - one of the only distinguishable landmarks of most of the low lying islands - and do a quick check of the phone. It really can’t be easier. Not to mention the weather is the same very day. It is summer after all!


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