Right before I left my dad started asking me all kinda of questions about bringing my boat back to salt water. A journey I intended to make towards the end of the season, but am leaning towards doing sooner after some weeks of shakedown cruising around the lake. In theory, I guess, the lake is a safer place to sail than a big mean river.
“Do you feel comfortable in your abilities to traverse that body of water? Could something really big go wrong?”
“Comfortable is a loose term,” I tried to explain. “I’m capable, but not overconfident. Yes, a number of things could go wrong, but as long as I’m patient and cautious with the weather, tides and currents I should be fine. But yes, a number of things could still go wrong.”
“But what about the currents, and tides on a body of water you’ve never sailed on? The commercial traffic?” He asked, rather irked.
“Well, that’s why you have a current atlas and tide charts. Plus every new port is a chance to gather some more local knowledge. I have a radio to communicate with ships and I’ll be aware to stay out of their way.” I tried to explain.
“You just have an answer for everything!” He quipped.
But it’s true. I do have an answer. Not because I’m some kind of know-it-all, but because I’m a sailor and sailors can only use the tools available to them to get on with a voyage safely. In no way do I think that just because I’ve read the guidebooks and studied the charts that I’m some kind of expert. I’m going to be treading very lightly and with extreme caution.
I get it though. My parents are worried about me. Hell, I’m worried about me! But i’d be more worried if I wasn’t worried at all. I won’t even think about beginning the journey back to saltwater until I know the ins and outs of my boat, and have strengthened every known weakness she possesses.
It’s really hard to explain to people who aren’t sailors that yes, what I’m doing is risky, but it’s not this death defying act. I’m not a daredevil. It’s not my intention to have my folks white knuckled in anticipation. I’m just seeking a simple life of freedom, adventure, community, and self sufficiency.
My mom managed to not really chime on the conversation much. All she said was, “Do your best, and stay alive.”
Which is basically my mantra.
I find it hard to explain this too – that yes, it is risky, but we’re not daredevils who think we know everything. Happily our parents do understand this, though! They’ve been so wonderfully supportive throughout. It sounds like yours are too!
Yes, they are as supportive as they can be of something they don’t quite understand. But I’m sure once they step onto my floating little home it will click!
There are tons of resources available online and in print for making voyages into unfamiliar areas. Grab yourself a coast pilot for the region in question at the very least, and one of the many available cruising guides. If you have any questions about the New York waterways feel free to give me a shout.