Monday, November 10, 2008

Famine or Feast

In addition to Murphy’s Law, McGillacudy’s Law, Moore’s Law, and Laureen’s Rule of Three (which is really more like a guideline), let us add Toast’s Law:

In cruising, there is either way too much or none.

Let’s start with food. Either you have just provisioned the boat, and you can’t open the medicine cabinet without a box of crackers leaping out to hit you on the nose, or it’s been three weeks and you can not find three ingredients to cobble together to form a lunch. You travel either through regions of the world where grocery stores are conveniently situated a five minute walk from every dinghy dock, or you pass through an area where the local “market” stocks nothing but beer, cigarettes, two jugs of expired milk, a basket of very limp carrots on ice, and fifty variations on the word “bait.”

Laundry is binary. Either the entire cockpit is overflowing in stinky panties, rotten blue clothes and damp towels, or we did laundry this morning.

Fuel is a gradient. You start with lots and over time you use it. Unless you’ve broken something. Then you find that somehow you’ve leaked a full tank of propane into the atmosphere. In addition to being environmentally disastrous, this state change results in nothing but cold gruel and warm lemonade until you can find the next fuel station.

Don’t get me started on wind. Every sailor knows that the quickest way to make the wind die down is to put up the main sail. Turns out that a quicker way to do so is to send s/v Don Quixote into the teeth of the forecast. Even should NOAA pump out a lovely 15 to 25 knot forecast with steep 12 foot swells, if you send us out there the wind promptly drops to 5 from the west. We spent twelve hours motoring from Pillar Point Harbor to Monterey on the world’s slowest roller coaster despite an otherwise completely threatening and highly disturbing forecast.

Fish are like laundry. You either have them or you don’t, and it’s not really clear which state is more frustrating. If the fish are in the mood, they generously throw themselves on the bait in a protein suicide that is both commendable and speaks volumes about the fundamental stupidity of the piscine species. You then haul in fish after fish until the blood is an inch deep in the cockpit, and there is no room in the freezer for the rum drink ingredients. If the fish are not in the mood, no amount of clever hooks, bait, or lures will get them to pay the slightest attention. Inevitably in these conditions, we catch birds. We’ve probably caught every major species of ocean bird between Vancouver Island and Cabo San Lucas.

Advice. Well, let me see. This might be the exception that proves the rule. I’ve never been with sailors who didn’t have a lengthy list you’re doing wrong. Books, blogs, and salty dogs are all full of useful tidbits to read and forget. If DrC and I listened to the majority of this nautical treasure house, we probably would have never left. We certainly are insufficiently competent to do what we are doing. However, here we are. Nearly 3,000 miles and we’re still float. The kids are still alive, too. Surprising, that last bit.

My advice is to forget the rules, and pass the wasabi. God knows you’re not going to be able to find any more of it after you run out of the... what? Five JARS? Who packed this damn boat anyway?...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog for several months now and really enjoying your adventure (probably more than you have at times!) and been inspired that you are getting out there and doing this big thing with your family.

Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I posted about it on my blog: