Sunday, July 24, 2011

Distance is Relative

It's 2005. We've owned Don Quixote a mere two months. We would like to take her north to La Connor to show her off to DrC's parents. The girls want to visit their grandparents, and it seems like a great opportunity to practice sailing our new boat. The problem is that the trip is really really long. The 50 some odd miles are utterly daunting. So we break the trip into three days up, two days in La Connor, three days for the return. Even so, the 20 mile day to Everett is nearly overwhelming leaving the entire family limp with exhaustion.

It's 2007. What with closing down the practice, renting the house, and getting the boat ready, we just don't have a full week to spend on a trip to Grandma and Grandpa. We reconsider and recalculate and commit to leaving early and have long days. We can manage the distance two days each way. Thanks to some friends of ours, we've learned the wonders of using Puget Sound tides to carry us from place to place. The second, 27 mile day is hard on everyone and boring in the extreme, but we do it.

It's 2008. We cut the lines on our cruising lives and head north. We make it all the way to Port Townsend, 45 miles north, in one day push to make a scheduled appointment with a rigger. It takes all day. On arrival, we have the devil's own time docking as the family has collectively less than a single erg of energy. As the stars start to emerge from Northwest clouds, we drag ourselves down to the local microbrewery to eat burgers and drink crafted and ginger brew with a sense of accomplishment. 

It's 2009. To escape the heat and mud of Santa Rosalia after Hurricane Jimena, the girls and I pull out of the harbor in the middle of the night and motor sail 65 north to Bahia San Franciscito. We don't even have the captain on board. It takes 13 hours, and we arrive before sunset with plenty of time to set the hook well for the night. The next day we duplicate the effort to get up and around the corner into the Bay of LA region where presumably we are out of the possible path of another hurricane. I can't remember us at any time discussing the distance, as the trip was well within "our wheelhouse" and a hell of a lot easier than the days just spent on the dock in 70 to 90 knot winds.

It's 2011. The family is noodling over the charts covering the region from the Societies to Tonga. Jaime notes, "Aitutaki to Palmerston North is only 193. We can leave in the morning and get in the next evening." Aeron nods, "Easy peasy." Mera adds, "Only one night watch per person." 

I try to imagine this family back in the Puget Sound. Have we really changed so much? If we wanted to see Grandma and Grandpa, would we really consider leaving on Friday afternoon back on Sunday? The family is busy making plans for this summer in New Zealand with trips to the Bay of Islands and Hauraki Gulf, both of which are 100s of miles from our base in Auckland Harbor. Presumably, there will come a time when 100 miles seems like a long day again. But today, we are sailing from Huahine to Raiatea, and we don't even bother to plan when to leave or arrive. The trip is so short, it's hardly worth changing the daily cooking, school, and chore schedule. It's only 20 miles after all.


judith said...

You guys are pros! I can just see your girls raking in the dough as Charter Captains at the ripe old age of 21.

NatGeoWannaBe said...

Sometimes it takes hindsight to turn giant leaps into the baby steps they really are/were.

Anonymous said...

This is such a great post. We are at the "50 miles, no way" phase. Scary, scary, boogie, boogie. What if it gets.....dark? Shiver.

Andy in Minneapolis

Singing Land Cruiser said...

My Dear Toast, what a great post. You have made us reflect on our "Life After Toast", cause after all, you were the one that gave us the guts the buy and convert a MCI bus. Like you, we now wouldn't think twice about driving across country. Thats a far cry from the 25 mile drive home!
All the Best to you and yours Toast.
Michael & Christi Hargis

Helsbells said...

Thanks for giving the rest of us much needed courage.
Still dreaming in Memphis,