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Still Waters Run Deep

Esther Arosemena

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Click here to see Esther's Biography

Recently my new friend, Derek, introduced me to a new world 䨥 world of sailing.

If you go to a marine store or related bookstore, you can find a 500 books on knots, navigation, tides, currents, boat building, boat racing and more publications full of hints and advice that one can possibly read in a lifetime. Having decided that I really want to join this world I ask myself, whatॳsential?

So far I堍 learned the very basics of winds and currents and how to steer the boat. I堍 discovered that there are more seas and oceans than one could ever sail. I堍 become aware that the sea can seduce a sailor with limitless promises or chastise him/her with unimaginable dangers. There are thousands of stories recorded in literature as far back as Homer and innumerable heroes to emulate. But at the core of all of it there is a primal engagement: the love of the sea. 

In 1968 Bernard Moitessier wrote in his log:

থlt such a need to rediscover the wind of the high sea, nothing else counted at that momentᬬ Joshua and I wanted was to be left alone with ourselvesﵠdo not ask a tame seagull why it needs to disappear from time to time toward the open sea. It goes, that࡬l쯳pan>

Moitessier and the other eight contenders participated in the Golden Globe race. They raced in mono-hulled and multi-hull sailboats on route around the world by Ṡof the three capes਴he Cape of Good Hope in South Africa; Cape Leeuwin, Australia; and South Americaápe Horn) some of the most turbulent waters imaginable.

Traveling alone they were not to stop at any port and they could not have assistance or re-stocking of their supplies or resources. Those were the 魰le⵬es. To add to the challenge these men did not have the array of electronic and communications devices that guides us through the waters today.

In 2001 Peter Nichols published a detailed account of these voyages. What sets his book apart from others is that he offers not only a description of the adventure-full events, but also and introspective view of what moved these men to undertake this mammoth challenge. 襳e men sailed for reasons more complex than even they knews I sit on Unityथck, (sweet Unity) my loverೱ foot sail boat I conclude we all go to sea to find ourselves. Here are some notes of my maiden voyage.

For one thing, I brought too much 䵦fɠquote George Carlin, the comedian: 

衴's all you need in life, a little place for your stuff. That's all your house is: a place to keep your stuff. If you didn't have so much stuff, you wouldn't need a house.p; 㯭etimes you leave your house to go on vacation. And you gotta take some of your stuff with you. Gotta take about two big suitcases full of stuff, when you go on vacation. You gotta take a smaller version of your house.ﳰan>

You cannot make a boat a smaller version of your house. One thing about boats is that it teaches you to minimilize.  All the 䵦f鯵 left at home, 䵦f鮠general looses a lot of its importance. It is not that you do without; it is only that you do much better with what you have. Take salads. How about cottage cheese, tuna, tomatoes, green peppers and bacon bits? Delicious! It෯nderful to discover the power of your own ingenuity.

The second most important lesson I learned on my maiden voyage is that a good sailor learns to trust their intuition. Our physical senses are powerful receptors capable of processing tremendous amounts of information in seconds. We need to rely on our senses.   On our third day we decided to spend the night at Warderick Wells, home to the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park Headquarters and a very popular stop. A new cold front had been announced and we wanted a protected anchorage from wind gusts in the upper 20s that were forecasted.

We had radioed and inquired about a mooring spot but none of those sponsored by the Park௦fice were available. As we entered the anchorage we turned right to check anchoring on a shallower but more protected area of the bay. Derek calculated how close we could get to the shore to be snugger. The tides were already receding. 

As we were getting ready to secure Unity, we noticed another spot totally opposite to where we were, to the left and closer to the other boaters. We motored there and after checking it we decided to go back to our original spot. By now, half and an hour had passed. 

Right before we dropped anchor, somewhere in my brain, the quintessential light bulb, flagged me with the thought that the rocks flanking us were more exposed from the water that when we had arrived. 㠴he tide lower?頲emember thinking.㎡h୹ hunch was wrong. How can I dare tell a sailor with 30 years experience that I thought we were anchoring water that is too shallow? 

At first the 赭p, thumpse was gentle; then Derek flew out of the V-berth and ran on deck. He pulled and maneuvered. Needless to say there was very little to do but wait for the tide to rise againᮤ pray. 

Sometime during the sleepless night I said: 襠thought occurred to me when we were anchoring that the tide was too low for us to moor so close to shore.のd why didn튼/span>

 you say something?䥲ek answered. 壡use I don૮ow anything about sailingɠ replied. 喅R, never underestimate the value of your sixth sense; it may cost you your life.䥲ek said. 

Always remain tuned in to your hunches and donऩsmiss your gut feeling or that sense of ing without knowing what one knowsΥver underestimate the power of your intuition.

By the way, as a sailor, one thing I learned really early is that the one factor that rules your life in cruising is the weather. I can௦fer much perspective based on my limited experience. I堧otten valuable information on the subject from Dianna JessieӃruising Woman Advisor-How to Prepare for the Voyaging Lifeɮ a nutshell: 

1-       Steer clear of bad weather if you can.

a)       Know the weather trends of the area you堣ruising. Pilot charts help.

b)      Rely on your electronic equipment but donਡve blind faith in it.

c)      Keep informed but avoid basing your decisions on panic stories or unknown sources. Learn to distinguish between good and bad information.


2-       Prepare for bad weather.

a)       Keep the right gear on board. Choosing the right gear is dependent on the type of cruising you do. A weekend cruiser has different needs than one cruising in severe weather. In choosing remember that the goal in foul weather is to keep dry and warm.

b)      If bad weather is forecasted and you can৥t to a safe harbor on time, set a plan. Eating is important; it prevents fatigue. A warm meal a day is good for morale and energy levels, even if it੮stant cereal or soup. Keep thermos of boiling water for instant coffee, hot chocolate or soup mixes. Pre-cooked rice and anything makes a good meal. Keep crackers, dry biscuits and fruit, trail mix or the like handy. Donࣨoose this time to watch you figure. Drink lots of water.

c)     Learn and practice techniques that will allow you to keep control of your vessel.

d)      Learn to replace fear and apprehension with intelligent action. 

Robin Knox-Johnston won the Golden race only out of shear determination and adaptation in face of unimaginable perils. After a severe pounding in the Indian Ocean, Suhaili, his 32-foot ketch looked so wretched that she could have been mistaken for a vessel in distress. Nevertheless, he and his boat endured 29,000 miles and 310 days at sea. 

Neck to neck with Robin Knox-Johnston was Bernard Moitessier. But just six weeks before his projected arrival in Plymouth, Moitessier abandoned the race.  Before he headed back to sea he sailed into Cape Town Harbor, South Africa. There he slingshot a small can with a message onto the deck of a British Petroleum tanker, British Argosy. It read:  

頍 intention is to continue the voyage, still nonstop, toward the Pacific Island, where there is plenty of sun and more peace than in Europe. Please do not think Iലying to break a record. 壯rd鳠a very stupid word at sea. I am continuing nonstop because I am happy at sea and perhaps because I want to save my soul.ﳰan>


Maybe all of us that seek 襠sailing life楥l like him.

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