As someone who takes pride in “delivering what I promise”, I struggle with changing plans.
We set out from Charleston on a bit of a rough note — I thought it was slack but there was clearly still current running, so we very nearly, *nearly* slammed into our neighbor (I had to ask Jon if we’d hit, cuz it was sooooo close, and Michael, the owner of that very-nice-boat-I-almost-hit-at-5am shouted, “Bravo!” when I finally got us turned and facing the right way!), only to get out of the Charleston Inlet in the pitch black and into a big lumpy mess of a seastate, rolling us gunwhale to gunwhale while Zephyr protested and we wondered why we were so eager to leave the dock…
We’d been so set on leaving Charleston and heading off overnight, that we’d never really looked at everything in between. But as we rocked and rolled and tried to reassure Z that his world would one day stop rolling again, the futility of continuing to choose to be out there hit us.
There were all sorts of interesting options in between! And anyways, why were we trying to get to Florida??
We purposely never set a “destination” for our winter down south, other than somewhere that wouldn’t snow on us. This was intentional because I knew that if we said “Florida” or “the Bahamas” or “South Carolina”, I’d feel a huge responsibility to follow through on what we said (and after eight years of boat ownership, I should know better!).
But there are strange sorts of competition and stigma that exist around cruising — people breathlessly taking in our smaller boat and miniature crew-member, gasping “are you going to the islands?” with wide eyes (and I did, in fact, want to sail to the Bahamas)… But I never wanted to say we were going there in case something came up and we couldn’t end up sailing there.
Which it did, of course. And somehow the little decision to change our plans from sailing overnight to Florida to just popping back in to the ICW felt symbolic of our whole winter…
So long story short, I’m still working on accepting that not everything has to happen this year, and it’s okay to adapt plans to meet your circumstances.
We’re cruising with an 11-month old, on a 33′ sailboat, working around a full-time corporate job schedule.
Flexibility is key.
Thankfully Brio doesn’t mind a change of plans, so we found a great little inlet (South Edisto Island) and jybed back towards shore, settled the motion, and had a freaking awesome downwind sleigh ride right back into our beloved ICW.
Say what you will — I know some people hate the ICW (“the ditch”) — but I love it. You can sail (if you’re up for some active sailing!), you can anchor every night, you can see every mile of this beautiful coast… and you don’t have to rock and roll and stress about night watches and baby happiness.
Dolphins heralded our entry into the ICW, the golden sun set with a pod leaping around our anchored boat, and we slept peacefully with not another soul in sight.
And then the next morning, we had one of those picture-perfect days; cruising wing-on-wing at 5-6 knots in a 10-12 knot breeze, sun sparkling, tunes cranked in the cockpit, Zephyr happily pointing out birds and boats and points of interest on land…
“This is why I love sailing,” I whispered to Jon, “and I’m so thankful we changed our plans.”