As we prepare J. Henry for our next passage West to Bonaire, it is clear that the first Chapter of our Journey has come to an end. It’s been two months since our big departure from Charleston. We’ve sailed through seven countries and several different harbors and ports. The feeling at our departure was something that I imagine can be compared to an astronaut preparing for launch day. We studied, trained, planned, prepared, and checked everything several times. Finally the time came to strap in and brace ourselves for our launch into orbit.
After leaving the safety of our homeport of Charleston, SC, we were quickly faced with the reality of the new environment we were going to be exploring for the next two years. The Atlantic Ocean lived up to its reputation and for five grueling days at sea we beated upwind to Bermuda. Finally, with 40 knots of wind off of our quarter and a steep swell rolling with us, we passed through the rocks into St. Georges harbor. My white knuckles relaxed and the emotions of the crew aboard J. Henry erupted! We had made it! The wind was still howling, the skies were still grey and the rain was preparing for another long sweep. We cleared customs and made our way to the White Horse Tavern for a long anticipated Guinness. As we reveled in the glory of dry land with plenty of provisions, J. Henry waited patiently at the dock. All of us had been put to the test.
Many sailors can understand what this passage must have been like, but for others, imagine living with 5 people for 5 days in a space that is about 15 feet by 8 feet. This space includes beds, kitchen, living room and bathroom. Now make that space roll shutter and shake for all five days, allow no one to bathe, poor water inside the box constantly and require all crew to put on wet pants and jackets every several hours to go out and get colder and wetter in the cockpit. Lastly, there is no leaving.
That first passage set the stage and theme for the rest of Chapter One. Our “shakedown” to Bermuda acquainted us with the reality that we would be fixing J. Henry around the world. Since our departure from Charleston, we have been repairing our boat in every port. The list of things to do will shrink as we make headway, only erupt again the next time we’re at sea. In addition to the challenges of keeping the boat in shape, we have had to grapple with the challenges of living and working with another person in a tiny space. Our home, work and personal lives are seldom separated, both physically and emotionally. If Zach and I hadn’t been friends for 15 years, I am sure one of us would have been on a one-way flight back to Charleston this holiday season.
Although the theme of Chapter One seems grim at first, the challenges are simply part of the journey and the rewards have also been great. We have had some incredibly beautiful days of sailing. We have hiked in beautiful places including to the summit of a live volcano in Guadeloupe. We have snorkeled over reefs that were bursting with life. We have visited more countries in two months than either of us have visited during our 30 years of being on this earth…. And this is just the beginning. Now we sail west and leave the Eastern Caribbean behind. We feel that we are finally beginning to find a cadence and we have high expectations of all that is to come.
There is much more to share from this first portion of our journey, you can absolutely expect more stories, pictures and video in the near future.
Thank you for following our journey around the world.