We had just cleared through our first lock and gazed upon a welcoming open body of water, riddled with westerly winds and not another boat in sight. Our perfect opportunity to hoist the sails. Up they jostled and consequently off went the engine. I couldn't believe it, after a year full of meticulous planning and unrelenting research we were finally under sail aboard our very own 35' sailboat. Only one problem (at this time) still existed and that was getting her to our soon-to-be home port of St. Petersburg with zero sailing experience between the two of us. Sure we had read our fair share of books and watched copious amounts of YouTube videos in preparation but now we were really in it, no turning back.
An alarm pierces my moment of reminiscence and brief celebration as I'm brought back to the task at hand. Never heard that alarm before, must be something with the engine. Nope, can't be the engine considering its turned off. My significant other and co-pirate, Kelsey heads down below to investigate. Within minutes Kelsey comes back up to answer our pre-voyage question, as if the alarm had coerced her into providing us an answer to if she still gets sea sick or not. Simultaneously the wind kicks up to an untimely 25 knots as one of our sails wraps around the mast and tears our head sail. I prioritize - Take care of your crew first, taking on water alarm second then deal with a shredded sail. Kelsey and I begin to tackle each task individually as we discover the source of the incoming water and take down the torn sail to replace with a back-up. I give Kelsey the helm and she stares at the horizon solely focusing on keeping water under our 6' draw. Ah the perfect cure for seasickness - distraction, some wind on the face and the horizon. The exhilaration eventually subsides as we get everything abated and under control.
I remember being overwhelmed and overcome with brief moments of regret at numerous points throughout our 5-day shakedown sail from the Atlantic Coast of Florida to the Gulf Coast. We planned for stress and feelings of being overwhelmed as any ridiculous/absurd Type-A couple would, we just had a different term for it; leaving our comfort zone. We wanted to be challenged, to finish our voyage with a temporarily quenched thirst for adventure. And our journey did just that, along with reaffirming to us why we opted for this in the first place.
As we made our stoic approach to our new pier we'd eventually call home, I remember being overrun with feelings of accomplishment. As our bow line wrapped around the cleat on the pier, our five-day cruise of overnight passages, high-water alarms, and other stern lessons had become a thing of the past. We wanted this life because it breeds everyday challenges, each day is uncertain with what potential problems may lie ahead. Living in this type of ever-changing environment allows us the privilege to tackle life’s curve balls with a different mindset. A life of cruising and living aboard a sailboat is a perpetual puzzle; one we are happy to be solving everyday.