The Shakedown

Firstly, thanks for all the positive commentary on this site. I really appreciate it. Sometimes I feel so good, other times it hits me that Colleen died less than five months ago. Lately, when I’m feeling down, I think, “If I feel like this now, how in the world did I make it through the first couple months?” Maybe there’s no use trying to decipher the unsolvable; I’m here now.

I got out on a shakedown sail on Thursday (January 16) and I’m so glad I did. I’ve done a bit of last-minute work to Hazel James, upgrading things, installing a few new items, etc. and it was good to get out in mild conditions and try them out. Some examples: I calibrated the physical compass to the electronic compass and GPS and noted deviations through all points on the compass (“Swung the ship” in sailing parlance), practiced hoisting my storm trysail (small mainsail used in high-wind situations), practiced reefing the staysail (the staysail is a smaller sail just forward of the mast that can be made even smaller by reefing it—again for high-wind situations), and played with my newly installed jacklines and tethers (akin to climbers’ safety ropes, designed keep you on the ship when things get dicey). As the sun was setting and I was finishing up my sail, my son Jack’s friend Conner came out Hillsboro Inlet on his way to do some bait fishing. We talked a bit and he got these photos.

The next day back at the dock, I dove on Hazel (snorkeled) and checked that everything below the waterline was as it should be and knocked off a few barnacles. All in all, good preparation. I found a few more things to sort out and I was glad I did it.

The weather this morning is looking good for my departure. A bit breezy to get started but I should be OK. I woke at 4:30 this morning of my own volition, too excited (and scared) to sleep. I was talking to my friend Ethan yesterday. He asked how I was feeling, I said, “Scared shitless”. He said, “Good, if you weren’t feeling that way I’d be worried about you.” It was a wonderful re-frame of the situation and how I was feeling.

If the weather continues to develop as expected, I’ll be headed south this morning. If not, I’ll hang out for a bit and wait. I’ve found that the intensity of the preparation has been so therapeutic for me. The focus has given me hours of solace at a time, punctuated only occasionally by grief attacks.

Thanks to all of you for all of your help along the journey.

8 thoughts on “The Shakedown

  1. It is interesting note describing your mental set up for the sailing. You have always turned difficult situations to winning one – you will surely enjoy it.

  2. The pictures are so beautiful and serene, Dan. Perhaps they are a bit at odds with how you feel right now but maybe they serve as the horizon does as you set sail – the representation of the feeling of hope to discover new places of beauty and serenity somewhere “out there”.

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