Four days and three nights on the open ocean. A small boat is the only thing separating you from the bottom of the sea and all that waits for you beneath it. Could you do it?
When we first left South Jersey five months ago, I’d never sailed in the open ocean. I was nervous at the thought of losing sight of land. I couldn’t imagine how people made over night passages, let alone sailed across the sea. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to muster the courage to attempt any of those things, but somehow we just traveled 350 nautical miles across the Atlantic from Grand Turk to San Juan, Puerto Rico. I’m still a bit shocked when I think about it. How did I do that?!
One thing I’ve learned since being on this journey is that with risk, comes reward. Purposefully putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation doesn’t seem like a good idea, does it? But in the cruising life, we’re typically rewarded with a new, beautiful location to call home after enduring some discomfort. As it turns out, it’s enough motivation for me to put myself in the Atlantic for four days and three nights. It’s just a little give and take, you see?
To sum up the trip, it was pretty uneventful and easy (with the exception of the first 24 hours when we lost several items overboard and had a good old fashioned freak out). If you haven’t heard what we lost, don’t worry, you’ll see a video (in time)– it’s terrible and pretty embarrassing.
While Dave dealt with readying the boat in preparation for our trip, I focused on meal prep. I was not about to be stuck in the galley in questionable seas trying to cook us food. Instead, I cleaned, chopped, cooked and packaged meals in tupperware containers that were easy to grab and eat while we were under way. It worked out beautifully, I might add! 🙂
Dave and I took 3 hour shifts during most of the trip. Sometimes I let him sleep longer because of a rush of caffeine at 2am. I also enjoyed creepy podcasts that had me on pins a needles, wired and ready for something to jump into the cockpit. After the first 24 hours, our schedule seemed almost normal, like we had always lived that way .
I took my good ol’ Dramamine for the entire trip and thank heavens I did because at one point the seas got a bit crossed, making for a sickening ride where I was the only one able to function.
We did witness some amazing things during the crossing:
- Our first whale sighting
- Bioluminescence around the hull of the boat in the middle of the night – if you don’t know what it is, look it up.
- A full moon and no wind. Paired with the bioluminescence, it was magical!
- Dave made a conch horn, finally!
- We went swimming in one of the deepest parts of the ocean!
Overall, the trip was a breeze (haha, literally). The weather report we received was mostly accurate, helping us steer towards our destination. As anxious as we were before starting this crossing, it really wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be. Yes, we were a little tired once arriving, but we were getting into the rhythm of things by the end of the trip. Could we sail further in the future? Probably. Would we want to? If you told us there was a beautiful new destination as reward for our efforts, than yes, we definitely would!
This passage really empowered us and gave us confidence as cruisers. Of course we’ll remain cautious with every leg of our trip, but maybe with just a little more self-assurance.