You know when you shake your jeans or a tote bag upside down to see if anything falls out? You always hope to find money, but you usually find bills, trash, or other unpleasant things. Well, that’s what a shake down cruise is all about. You hope to find that you, your partner, and your boat are chock-full of magical ideas, strengths, and unexpected delights, but you always brace yourself for the disappointments. And you welcome anything that comes up, because it is all part of the learning process, and it’s all preparing you for the Big Day.
So, our shake down cruise started off dismally. Actually, only the sky was dismal; we were ecstatic and Alembic was performing flawlessly. We wanted to try out all of the systems that hadn’t been tried as a live aboard dockside. Would our refrigeration hold up without 110 power? Could our batteries be capable or taking and holding a full charge? How are we going to shower? How do I use this new pressure cooker, and would we like the food that came out of it? Were our anchors adequate? Was all of our gear appropriately stowed? Would that tiny oil drip coming from the engine become a problem? How do we use the new whisker pole? Could we come about with the newly installed inner jib? Would our tattered main sail hold up until we made it to the Chesapeake to pick up the new one?
After 3 weeks, we found out that we were all set; all systems were more than adequate. But what we discovered was that new issues would pop up that we hadn’t even wondered about. We would experience joys and frustrations that we hadn’t prepared for. The people and the sights along the way were far above our expectations, and our blunders were also far above our plans. Blunders happen in life, and we should all expect this. No amount of planning can prepare you for them.
So, blunders? Yes. First, we hit a rock on day two that put a hole in our boat the size of your head! I dashed below, waiting to see the gushing water and hear the bilge pumps come to life. Silence. Weird. Bill quickly donned the mask and snorkel and checked it out. Yes, it was big. No, we would not sink. More about this later… Several days later, while stowing our dinghy on deck to prepare for more sailing (a daily routine), we heard hissing. Not good. The dinghy, our only method of getting ashore, soon collapsed into a limp, useless piece of plastic. A hose clamp on a stanchion was sharper than we thought. More on this later… Then, our third problem was lack of internet. We hadn’t anticipated needing internet, or considered what life would be like without it. Erica totaled her car in Colorado (yes, everyone was fine) and we had to conduct ridiculous feats just to communicate with her, the auto shop, and our insurance company. Luckily State Farms was wonderful, and Erica took control. She bought a new car, registered it in CO, got new parking stickers, and was off and rolling without much assistance.
Learning experiences are what we are out here for, and this shakedown cruise delivered! There is only so much preparation for life; you have to roll with the unexpected. We are looking forward to many more new experiences, hopefully with a little less damage.