Grenada, boat work, hurricanes… and perspective
I realize I haven’t been updating the blog very much recently. Probably two ways to look at that - either we are simply way too busy teaching ourselves to sail and trying to navigate safely through the Caribbean to Grenada (where our insurance requires us be safely out of the hurricane zone), or I simply use to write as a method of therapy and no longer need it. ;)
I often hope it’s the latter option, and I’m certain at some level that’s actually accurate as the blog was born at a time of much change in our lives and in looking back its almost impossible to see those posts as anything other than self-therapy. Nevertheless, it also seems a bit of a shame that we just went through such a huge season in terms of learning, adaptation and life changing events and experiences… and came away very few written logs of them.
As we pulled into Grenada (a few weeks ago now) we could feel ourselves with a huge array of mixed emotions. On one hand we were thrilled to have successfully reached our goal and destination for the season.
We left 8 months ago without knowing so much as how to turn on the lights or flush the head on our boat, much less how to make it move. Now we are (mostly) comfortable and confident offshore sailors who have successfully navigated almost 3k nautical miles, several multi-day crossings and a full spectrum of experiences (both highs and lows).
But our arrival here also came with something else. We could feel ourselves a bit on edge. Easily frustrated, anxious and a bit “off”. While Grenada seemed like a huge accomplishment it also seemed like we’d hit a bit of a wall. For a couple used to going wherever/whenever we want, we knew in the back of our minds that we are required to stay in Grenada (or at least the general region) for the next 4 months. Even before stepping foot on the island we somehow thought of it more as a trap than an exciting set of new experiences.
We had plenty of boat work to do, an ever growing list of tasks that we’d been putting off all season while we focused on more urgent daily needs. That list has still not been checked off, but instead of an eagerness to tackle it, we instead found ourselves restless and unsure how to fill our time. After months of fishing and snorkeling and sailing we find ourselves in a place with very little underwater life and regulations against fishing (both because of and despite being overfished).
We put together a plan to hit the smaller islands in the region, but then had to be in Grenada for our haul out/bottom paint job and other boat maintenance. That experience proved even more hot, stifling and miserable than we could have imagined and also led to a few other problems which have us essentially “stuck” in the same bay for most of the last 2 months while also staring down tropical storm Dorian and some frustrating sail drive issues that have yet to be solved.
To say that it has taken a toll would be an understatement.
We are quite adept at handling change on the fly, at tackling/solving problems as they arise and at learning as we go… but apparently (and ironically) stagnation is our achilles heel. We went through periods of anxiety, of fear and several of outright stress… but in looking back most of them were entirely caused by, well - us.
We allowed our minds and emotions to take over and create a bigger problem/event than it actually was.
All with good-ish reasons…
We were told the seals needed for our sail drive repair would take 60-90days to deliver, which immediately made us picture living in the miserable conditions of the boatyard for no less than a couple months. A tropical storm racing toward the very island we ran away to specifically to ensure we didn’t have to face a storm (and of course, while we have a failed saildrive/propellor)…
But in reality the stress and angst that we worked ourselves up into was far more than the impact of the problems at hand warranted. The sail drive seals arrived much faster once we found a distributer in the UK. The storm remained almost 100nm to the north; and instead of storm conditions we actually sat in the pocket beside the storm with almost no winds and hardly a drop of rain as it passed.
A great reminder that stress is a completely worthless emotion.
“We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.”
A reminder that stressing about a problem that hasn’t yet occurred simply means making yourself live through that problem twice, and the stressful version you create in advance is often well worse than the actual problem once you start tackling it.
At some point in the middle of the week where all these things piled onto our already weakened psyche we realized what was happening and that we were mostly to blame. After that realization we did a good (decent) job of letting go. We took a few steps back to look around us and see the beauty of the present, the beauty that surrounds us and chose rather than escalating things in our mind to simply deal with the issues at hand.
We aren’t out of the woods yet and the problems are still in the process of being solved, but it’s now a set of checklist items and we are not only feeling better day to day about the exact magnitude of those events we are also crystal clear about where they stand in the spectrum. We are recentering ourselves and reframing the dialogue in our heads.
We are not “stuck” in Grenada for the next few months, we are floating off a caribbean island with a chance to slow down, to experience things at a deeper lever and to meet a large group of people that are here doing the same.
We watched tropical storm Dorian go by us in what seemed like a “close call” but now watch as that same storm has doubled/tripled and is making a direct hit on islands we fell in love with a few months ago.
Our sail drive failed, but it failed while sitting in a safe bay and one which has all the equipment needed to haul our boat from the water and fix the issue rather than in the middle of the ocean where we could have suffered a far worse fate.
Life is good!
We’ve always known it… and we are grateful each and every day for it.
But sometimes it takes a little reminder/perspective to be able to see it for what it is and enjoy/embrace it as it should be.
Update: Please send all the positive energy/vibes you possibly can to the people of the bahamas, who are currently living through an absolute hell as the storm has now become the strongest on record and is literally hovering over the islands for a painfully slow/long duration with devastating results.