The Hook

“Sailing is 90% boredom and 10% terror.” ~ Dave Bell circa 2003

Looking back, I’m sure this phrase was one that Dave picked up while cruising the Bahamas so many years ago. As a 23 yr old, this phrase enticed me. I wanted to experience that kind of life where you’re not quite certain what will happen and it’s bound to be exciting when it does. Whatever it may be. 

Sixteen years and three kids later and I have to admit, I have changed. Terror no longer holds the same thrill. Excitement, yes. Anticipation, sure thing. Unknown, a little more uncomfortable but still intriguing. Terror, can I pass?

The short answer is no, life on a boat means the unexpected will happen and sometimes that will be terrifying. Our first taste came about a month ago. We were anchored in Sainte Anne in Martinique. Squalls had been moving through all day. With those squalls came significant gusts of wind. 

One particular squall produced a 38 knot gust and all of a sudden rain was hitting the cockpit. Dave was the first to notice and what started as bewilderment; “why is the rain…” quickly turned to terror. We were dragging anchor, in a crowded anchorage, with a boat that gets pushed by the wind like a floating mattress. So much surface area.

Dave got to the helm and I ran for the bow to pull up the anchor. As Dave engaged the engines and attempted to hold the boat steady, cold rain pelted down. 

Turning to Dave, I yelled, “Do you fear the force of the wind, the slash of the rain?”

“Not the time!” He yelled back.

I thought it was clever, my Gram would have thought so too. It was the first line of one of her favorite poems. 

Anyway, we reset the anchor – no need to back down with 30 knots of wind on your bow – and took our first breath. What the heck just happened?!

*As an aside * Things I am thankful for – Dave returned from running errands 30 minutes prior to breaking loose. SO, so thankful he was on the boat. Also, this was before solar panels so I already had the engines running to charge the batteries. Precious moments saved to have the engines on.

As the dust settled over the next few days, Dave remarked that experience was good for us and it would be beneficial for us as sailors to do that a few more times. Think again buddy – in theory sure, in reality I would be quite content to never do that again. 

So two weeks later while listening to the cruisers net (VHF communication between cruisers) and someone mentioned having a 40 kg Rocna for sale, even the kids were clamoring to call on it. It was more than a bit oversized for our boat. We had planned on upgrading our anchor in June when we were back in Florida. But here was a solid anchor at a decent price that would hold us safely in place. Thank you Lord. 

We bought it and installed it two days later while anchored in Grand Anse in 2.7 meters of water. Dave Bell has unconventional ideas sometimes but they usually work. I’m learning to trust his crazy ideas a bit more. It’s been good for us.