A Bi-Polar kind of Day

Of all the advice, clichés, opinions, and info we have gathered about sailing over the past two years, the two most common themes we have encountered are:

  1. Cruising is fixing your boat in exotic locations.
  2. When cruising, the highs are VERY high and the lows are VERY low.

While Stéphane and I can vouch for both of these being painfully accurate, we felt the high-low most keenly on our first day spent in the Bahamas.

Picture it: after a year and a half of planning, dreaming, and saving; months working on our boat and figuring out how to sail it; months sailing it down the US coast- we are finally in foreign waters! We did it! We have truly begun our adventure! Crossing over into Bahamian-blue waters was the biggest high! We are so proud of each other, of our hard work, of our perseverance. We are dancing on the deck and pointing and giggling at the clear water like we are five years old. We are HIGH on life and adventure and love and a sense of immense accomplishment.

Eight hours later, we are on Free Range, docked in Nassau. I am planning our route for the next day’s departure to Allans Cay and Stéphane is working on fixing a minor fuel leak in the engine. After a small tweak, he starts the engine to confirm his work. The engine immediately revs up to some ungodly RPM. I cannot properly describe the horror of the next three minutes. The roar of the engine is deafening, the smell of burn permeates the cabin. The sheer power at which the engine is operating is horrifying and I am just waiting for it to explode or burst into flame.


shut if off.

I feel completely helpless. I am thinking, we’ve come this far and now the engine is going to explode, and possibly the boat with it, and that will be that. I rip the cushions off the settee to get to the tools underneath because, in my mind, we need some kind of tool to fix this, right? Like a saws-all or a dremel tool, yeah that sounds good. Stéphane immediately jumps into action, trying this thing and that thing and the other thing to get the engine to shut off, but it won’t.

And the Perkins roars on.

I remember thinking, I can’t even believe an engine can make this kind of noise. It just doesn’t seem right. I should have exploded by now.

And then, finally, quiet.

Stéphane figured out how to shut it off. With each turn of the wrench, he burned his finger, but he shut it off. Who can think and act like that under that kind of pressure? I’m pulling out a saws-all (which, if you know anything about engines, you’ll know that a saws-all has zero application) and my husband just focuses and gets it done. Amazing.

Anyways, there’s our low. We are both shaking and in shock.

Enter doubt.
What are we doing?
Every day something breaks on the boat.
We have yet to have one single day where something didn’t go wrong.

The stress of the daily unknown – where to go, how to get there, when we get there, will there be a place to anchor? Will the anchor drag? Will we hit other boats? What if we read the weather wrong?

We aren’t sailors.
What are we doing?


Today we experienced the bi-polar nature of cruising firsthand: a harsh baptism into the this new world of ours.

Tomorrow, we’ll get up and get after it again.

Keep on Keepin’ On, as mom says.




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    • Grandma on December 21, 2014 at 12:58 pm
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    I can”t even make a comment – except as you say “tomorrow, get up and get at it again. I know things will start to smooth out SOON!

    • vicki on December 21, 2014 at 8:21 pm
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    You can see why sailors drink so much! Bring on the rum!

    • The other "S's" on December 22, 2014 at 12:11 pm
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    Side note: Regarding bi-polar. At one time we were considering renaming the boat “tenesmus”. Don’t know if you’re a fan of “Captain Ron”? but one of his quotes was “If anythings gonna happen; it’s gonna happen “out there”. Sail on children . . .

    • The other "S's" on December 22, 2014 at 12:14 pm
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    Oh, tenesmus was defined as “a painful rectal cramp” (Sally edits articles slated for publication in medical journals).

    • Phyllis on December 26, 2014 at 10:14 pm
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    Sailing is a lot like life on land. How many times in life do we question our daily choices? I am so glad that we don’t take our selves seriously sometimes. After a day like that, drinking and sleeping it off is the best thing to do:) Glad you are safe, and are completing your dream journey

    • Deepa on December 29, 2014 at 6:35 pm
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    Hi Sara and Stephan ,
    it is so much fun reading your blog.it seems like lot of fun and hard work have happy new year.

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