Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Shot in the Dark

For those of you who may be wondering if we’re frolicking in the turquoise waters of Bahamas, nope, we’re not.  We’re still in Miami.  Having missed our weather window last night, we’ve decided to stay until the next window pops up.  We’ve been anchored out here in Miami now for about a week, and aside from a few last minute chores, such as wiring up our last solar panel, some last minute mass provisioning, and awaiting to get our dinghy back, we’ve been taking it pretty easy.  We’ve been to shore only a handful of times since we’ve been here, and being anchored out has had its own set of highlights and pitfalls.  Being stuck on the boat isn’t as bad as most of you landlubbers may think.  It may seem mundane and boring, and at times it can be, but to be honest, it’s been quite a thought provoking and pensive time for me.  Days are filled with random little chores, and coming from a life where there was a set schedule, I’ve had to develop some semblance of structure for myself.   Creating to-do lists keeps you from getting lost in the vortex of being on anchor time.  There always seems to be something to do, whether it’s putting last night’s dishes away, checking our battery status, or diving to clean the bottom, it seems grains of time pass through the hourglass much quicker when you fill it when semi-productive tasks. 

We had a crazy night the night before we were originally planning to leave that swayed our decision.  Two days ago, we had rented a car to do some very last minute re-provisioning.  After seeing how much we were actually using, we had decided, surprisingly, that we needed to get some more stuff.  I know, what the hell right?  But after being aboard full time in the past two weeks, we realized that we were blowing through random things like toilet paper, rice, paper towels, and kool-aid ;) at a much quicker rate than we had originally anticipated. We had decided it was best to just get more so as to not have to worry about it in a foreign land.  So off we went driving around in awful Miami traffic, scurrying from West Marine, to Target, to Walmart, and lastly the Laundromat.  Time really got ahead of us. 

Not anticipating that the day’s errands were going take so long, we didn’t finish until well after sunset.    Well stupid us, since we hadn’t realized that it was literally going to take us all day, we didn’t think to turn on our anchor light.  Stupid, stupid mistake!  By the time we had even realized our dire situation, we were already well on our way with our dinghy packed full of groceries.  Since the draft of our boat kept us from anchoring anywhere close to the mooring field, where we had anchored was about a mile offshore.  So here we were with the dinghy packed to the brim with our clean clothes, grape soda, and other very important household items, with me in my sundress, groping around in the dark wondering where the heck Moitessier was.  We were about ½ a mile out before we started to get a little nervous.  We realized that the without our anchor light, there was no way in hell we were going to find Moitessier.  At night, things that would seem innocuous in daylight take on a more sinister edge.  The waves seem a little bigger, every shadow looks like the fin of a shark, and channel markers become much further away than they appear.  We had remembered that we had anchored just to the right outside the channel, but for some reason, in our tiny little dinghy, we couldn’t seem to gauge what the channel marker lights were versus every other light on shore.   After driving around in the dark for about an hour, we realized that the wind and current had set us much further than we had thought, so we started to head more to the north.  In my adrenaline fueled state, I didn’t even have time to panic as what was running through my head was some half drunk asshole that had plowed through the bay at break neck speeds, had hit Moitessier in the dark and she was now in the process of sinking, which was why we couldn’t see her.  It would be our own fault as well and we’d be  the ones liable if anyone got hurt.   

I called her name into the wind, much like one would do when they’ve lost their dog, roaming around in the streets hopelessly calling Fido in vain.  Shouting “Moitessier, where are you?”, as if somehow she’d hear me and cruise on by.  I know, fear had made me lose my mind.  Just as I was signing my last covenant to Allah, Buddha, Zeus, or whomever, vowing that if we were to find her, that I would never do something so reckless again, did she appear out of nowhere.  Just sitting peacefully, rocking back and forth, minding her own business.  I was never so relieved in my life.  Sounds a bit histrionic, but really it was like spotting a well in the desert.  As we approached her, I showered her with love.  Hell, I think I even frenched her.  As soon as I stepped aboard, all the composure I had kept throughout the ordeal completely drained out of me.  I started bawling.  Not tears of joy, no, nothing that graceful, it was more like a full on whaling.  Crying, stuttering, panting, boogers running down my face kind of crying.  Frank didn’t really know what to do with me because I’m normally pretty calm when things like that happen, but he just hugged me, told me it was over and that we were ok.  That seemed to calm me down a bit, though my heart was racing for the next hour.  Lesson for the day was, TURN THE DAMN ANCHOR LIGHT ON when you leave, especially if you don’t know when you’ll be back.  Another lesson learned was, when transporting groceries, bring a couple of garbage bags with you so that you can wrap them up and keep them dry. 

Drying out the goods
Dinghy full of stuff

So in light of what happened, we decided to just take it easy and not rush taking the passage.  That ordeal stressed us both out and we realized that there was no real reason for us to rush.  Especially since we hadn’t gotten our dinghy back yet, nor had we filled our fuel and water tanks, or had we gotten propane, as well as many other last minute things that we hadn’t thought to do.  Our instincts told us that being on a tight schedule, trying to beat the weather was going to lead to many more stupid mistakes.  And so here we are, sitting outside Hurricane Harbor, listening to the number of party boats blasting Reggaeton and Merengue, watching intoxicated jetskiers whiz by.  Perhaps it was foolish to put it off as it may mean a week’s delay, and our buddy boat is already celebrating in Bimini, but hey, I’d rather be safe than sorry. 

Our lovely lady anchored out
View of Miami from our butterfly hatches


  1. Great adventures, you two. Keep up the blogging. We are enjoying the read. Nice job on getting Moitessier ready to sail. Now, make that crossing and get to the Bahamas!!

  2. I can only imagine the sinking feeling you'd get not knowing where the boat was located. Good idea to keep the anchor light on anytime you're away. Looking at the dinghy, doesn't look like much room was left for the two of you. Good idea to take your time with the crossing. All the best to you both.

  3. put a spotlight or good flashlight in your shore backpack or dinghy. Add a couple of stripes of reflective tape to your mast where you can reach. You'll always be able to find her by shining that flashlight in the dark towards where you think you left her. If your anchor light is LED it's not good to have it lit in sunlight.