That is the question….. I was faced with a delima recently….. Do I find new crew and wait until they arrive or do I venture north solo.
There are a lot of questions, concerns and considerations to take into account while making this decision. Can I do it myself? Do I want to do it myself? What happens if all hell breaks loose? You have to consider your fitness, both physically and mentally, your propensity to socialize and your willingness to explore on your own. When it comes right down to it, it’s less about if I can sail on my own and more about do I want too.
On the other hand it has proven really hard to share this small space with strangers. It is my boat and I have been on it for a year, I have a routine and apparently I am particular about many things. 🙂 Finding the right personality that makes living aboard and exploring together enjoyable and fun is quite hard, even harder when you are trying to vet people via email and short phone calls.
I didn’t really want another stranger and I knew I could sail solo so the only question left is do I want to? Will I be happy coming into a new location not knowing anyone and exploring on my own? Will I actually go snorkeling and hiking by myself? Well the only way to know is to try it.
It started by getting off the dock and anchoring. No issues. Then I made a small jump from Rodney Bay to Marigot. Two hours down wind, easy peasy. I wanted to get a mooring in Marigot to enjoy the resort. This got a bit trickier. The balls do not come out of the water so you have to get down to them. No problem, there was a boat boy to help me. Came up slow and passed a line. The boat boy was quite impressed and tried to convince me to take him on as crew. 🙂
I enjoyed two great nights in Marigot and decided that it was time to leave. There was a front coming through so either I left the next day or a week later. I had friends in Sainte Anne Martinique, and some even moving north. I decided to try it. I checked out of St Lucia and was on my way a bit before 10. It would be a 6 or 7 hour sail depending on the sea conditions. It was blowing hard so I set a double reef and headed. It blew 25-30 most of the day, the seas were 7-9 ft and pretty confused behind the islands. The wind angle wasn’t ideal so I ended up motor sailing most of the way, but I also didn’t want to put to much sail out with is blowing like it was. It was pretty bumpy, put when I cleared pigeon point into the open channel between islands it actually got a bit more consistent so more manageable. I opted to keep going. I had in an exit strategy. If the wind or waves were to much to handle I would turn around and head back to Rodney Bay and wait out the front there.
I arrived 6 hours later into Sainte Anne to a constant stream of welcomes on the radio. I was exhausted but very proud of myself. I did it. I pushed through pretty salty conditions, on my own. It was what I needed to prove to myself that I can in fact do this on my own, and enjoy it!
The next challenge will be balancing my propensity to hand out alone with the need to socialize and interact with fellow cruisers. I was in Sainte Anne for 5 nights and kept myself quite busy. I explored the town and even started picking up some french. I visited with other boats for sundowners and the women’s lunch. So far so good!
After a few rainy days the weather cleared and I made the 3 hour jump up to Grand Anse D’Arlet, a sleepy little beach town. Anchoring was pretty difficult, in fact it took 7 tries to get my anchor to hold in a rather crowded anchorage. But once it hooked I was good. I went in and explored a bit and enjoyed the clean and clear water! Hiked over to Les Anse D’Arlet with Kathi on Aurora Sky.
Two nights and then I jumped to St. Pierre in hopes to make it to Dominica the following day. But I missed the weather window. The first full day was a rainy and miserable day, these are by far the hardest. It is rather difficult to socialize and hard to wander and explore when the weather is bad, you are pretty much held up in your boat. Believe it or not I didn’t have any pressing boat projects to take up my time. I was feeling a bit low, I used to love rainy days where I stayed in my pj’s and watched movies or read all day. On the boat they feel different, they are more isolating.
The good news is that the sun was out the next day, more familiar faces came into St. Pierre and now I have dinner plans and two hikes planned to keep me busy while waiting for the weather window.
There are ups and downs, loneliness is the hardest to cope with, but the sailing community has a wonderful way of making you feel welcome. There always seems to be a familiar face or friendly new neighbors willing to chat, hike, and drink together!
So I just have to remember that there will be lows, but from lows come highs! Just wait a day or two and everything can change. Take advantage of those down times, don’t consider them isolating, they are simply a break and an opportunity to catch up on your blog!