Let’s get the boring stuff outta the way first….. Most importantly: WIDAGO and her crew arrived safely into the port of St. George’s, Bermuda after four days, eleven hours, only motoring for 19 – including a fishing-pit-stop. Winds were mostly on our beam @ 18-20kts, and calm, almost following, seas. Just a few squalls to dodge, and very light winds the last day. Now the good stuff…
WIDAGO got off to an interesting start. As this was our first participation in a rally, we (and I use pronouns liberally) really had no idea what to expect, especially at the start. There were 60+ vessels in the bay outside of the marina, awaiting the noon start. Because we are a catamaran, we had a planned delayed start of ten minutes. Because we really don’t know what we are doing, we were delayed another 10 minutes, making us the last boat to cross the starting line. No place in the standings to go but up. However, while still in the Sir Francis Drake Channel, we had a lively encounter with a non-rally monohull – motoring under power without sails – CBDR to our starboard. Capt. Ahab expressed his great displeasure at the skipper’s apparent lack of knowledge regarding navigational right of way. Perhaps our young guest crew member increased her vocabulary with phrases sounding close to “clucking chick”. The monohull failed to heed Ahab’s expletives and manual gestures: we were forced to rapidly change course, successfully avoiding collision 20 minutes into a five day passage. No harm, no foul – except for maybe foul language.
The highlight of passage (besides arriving with the same number people we departed with) occurred the afternoon of the first day. At approximately 4pm, we decided to set out just a single fishing line, in hopes of having something do to besides feel seasick. By 4:30pm – the unknown monster struck. Gordon was first to the reel, Ali @ the helm, and Ahab was below decks testing out the electric freshwater toilets. Gordon quickly identified a most formidable opponent by the force and speed with which the reel unfurled. Guestmate Guy Dixon quickly relieved Swabbie Gordon – as surely the beast below would have pulled Gordon down into Davey Jones’ Locker.
Indeed the battle was a group affair. With the skipper off the can and back at helm, the sails were quickly doused and the battle ensured. For the next hour, we thought we had a tenacious tuna within our grasp. My thoughts drifted to soy sauce and wasabi. As Dixon heroically fought the monster, Adelaide assisted her father on the rod; Gordon stood at the ready with gaff in hand. But alas, there would be no great sashimi pupu platter for dinner that first night. Instead, we were delighted by the sight a steep dorsal fin, as a mighty blue marlin breached behind the boat. BBM (Big Blue Marlin) fought onward for another half hour, battling Dixon’s stamina against his will to survive. Finally, BBM succumbed to exhaustion as he was brought astern. Ahab was able to wrangle the glowing green lure safely from BBM’s mouth, gave him pats on the back, and sent him safely back to the sea.
Beside weather and fishing, obviously the most important thing when sailing is food. My maternal instincts tend to take over, as I worry there won’t be enough. This is absolutely ridiculous – I know this – but I cannot help it. Prior to the start of the rally, I spent two full days sweating in the galley, pre-making food enough for twenty people for ten days. This was a four day passage with seven souls (one of which, yours truly, I knew wouldn’t eat anything besides Ritz Peanut Butter Crackers for the first three days). Needless to say, the coolers and fridge were packed with homemade chicken-ginger noodle soup, pulled pork & Cuban black beans, Beef Stroganoff, quiches, and a various assortment of cold noodle/pasta salads & pre-made deli sammies. The baguettes in Tortola were the perfect crusty-chewy balance – enough to make a diabetic double down on their pump (JJ….dingdingding).
But having the right provisioning, and pre-cooking 90% of the food, just doesn’t cut it on WIDAGO. You see, Capt. Ahab has very specific, completely irrational, ridiculously unreasonable expectations for how food should be presented while underway. Specifically, there should be available, at all times, an assortment of fruits, snacks, condiments (you’d better not forget the ketchup, hot sauce, orange marmalade, and organic hand churned butter from hand milked, grass-fed cattle raised in high altitude). All food must be plated, and presented at the same time. Served hot, with appropriate cutlery, linens, and beverages. It doesn’t matter if the galley wench feels like she did at week 11, pregnant with twins, contemplating the rising acid in her throat, sweaty tongue, and massive caffeine withdrawal. “You must feed the horses!”, insisted Ahab. There was a brief splitting moment where I wondered, “How many pictures of the dead body do I really need to take before I throw him overboard in order to collect the insurance money?” This came just after I was informed by Ahab that because I did not serve his toasted muffin with butter and preserves at the same time as his quiche & fruit, he “felt hurt inside”. Honestly, this is really what makes a great marriage. I was so happy to know that Ahab felt at ease enough to openly share his feelings. Communication is key. I am still working on my communication skills, but I did reciprocate how his expectations made me feel. Since this is family blog, I’ll leave it to your imagination, the words I shared with him…again it sounded similar to “clucking chick”, a phrase I learned from Ahab himself at the start of rally.