Thursday, December 11, 2014

Which way to turn

We are back on Cerca Trova after a long summer of travel and land-based adventures.  We are working hard to get her ready for a serious cruise of perhaps a year or more, which means replacing all those systems that have aged to where they are no longer trustworthy out of range of easy help.  That would be our main battery bank (which was essentially shot last year when we set out for our first cruise), our standing rigging at its design-life end (if it fails, we lose our rig), major engine overhauls, replacing leaking hatches (boating rule #1 is to keep the water out and the people in), and of course an overhaul of the boat’s bottom paint, props, rudders, etc (bottom paint available in the US nowadays barely lasts 18 months before it fails to prevent a personal coral reef from starting up and making a ‘hula-skirt’ that seriously drags down boat speed and therefore our ability to get to places and away from weather).  And a mind-boggling array of small tasks like mounting the EPIRB (look it up) for ready access if disaster strikes, reworking our “garage” to allow for quick access to tools and parts, cleaning up our main salon headliner that had been stained and uncleanable when she was launched, failing bug screens that we can no longer patch, resuscitating the SSB so we can communicate by text-mail and get all-vital weather data anywhere in the world, get the watermaker leaks fixed, tune the dinghy so it will idle well, and on and on and on.  The whole list is about 5 pages single-spaced of repairs, upgrades, spares, and provisioning.  We haven’t even started on the provisioning because we haven’t decided where we are going to go.
And go we must.  Men and ships rot in port, and our port, the Fort Myers Boat Club, has been sold to a powerboat broker company.  We can see the writing on the wall being left by the fancy sales guys inspecting the docks; and we are getting antsy.   So where do we go?
Last year in the Bahamas it was cold (really) and the incessant cold fronts with their fierce northwest winds in an archipelago with almost no west-protected anchorages made for less than relaxed cruising.   And it was crowded, with 320 boats in Georgetown harbor for the peak of the season, crowds that made it chancy to find room in the popular spots.  They are crowded because they are easy to get to, beautiful and have a base of marine support services.  We loved them and we will go back. But for now,……
We would like to go somewhere else.  Which means to get more remote, take on a lot more adventure and so also push the thin line between adventure and adversity.  If it was easy and safe, then everyone else would be there already.
Cerca Trova was built for it.   There are Mantas all over the world and they get there on their own bottoms.   It’s really about us: are we ready? Can we deal with the physical punishment of heavy weather, standing off unmarked reef entrances until after sunrise, finding engine parts in foreign languages, fixing it ourselves because the locals don’t have experience or parts for our gear, finding our way through the uncharted shifting sands of foreign immigration rituals? We think we can figure it out, and have the cruising community for assistance if needed. Just the way sailing and sailors work.
We are nearly done with refitting.  We are taking a Holiday break, then back for the final push to provision.  And then we will indeed have to make the choice.  Off the dock and off the fence.