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God is in the details
“God is in the details.”
- Ludwig Miles van der Rohe (1886-1969)
I recently took a two-week cruising vacation with my family on our sailboat “Family Knot” (Gemini 105Mc). Our goal was to circumnavigate the Delmarva Peninsula, the large East Coast peninsula that contains portions of the states Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. The majority of this trip was confined to the relatively protected waters of the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Bay, but a portion of the trip required venturing out into the coastal Atlantic Ocean. This was by far the longest cruise my family and I have taken on Family Knot. At the end of our circumnavigation, we had put over 450 miles under the keel. While this little sailing venture would mean little to the likes of Joshua Slocum (“Sailing Alone Around the World” – 1899), it was a significant accomplishment for this Captain and his crew. As an aside, I received numerous raised eyebrows from male sailing cruisers we met at various ports when they noticed my all-female crew, consisting of my wife and three teenage daughters. My wife grew up sailing, my daughters grew up on the boat and I was more than confident in the skills of the crew.
My family and I had many adventures and challenges during this trip. We visited a number of new ports and gunk holes. Parts of the journey that we feared would be difficult, based on cruising guides, such as the Chesapeake – Delaware Canal, turned out to be delightful. Other passages were far less pleasant, such as our route from Cape May, N.J., Ocean City, Md,, that was accomplished with a double reefed mainsail into 20 – 30 knot winds that were right on the nose of the boat (something like riding a bucking bronco for hours). Despite the challenges, we saw aspects of the beauty of this country that can only be appreciated from the water. We had front-row seats for breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, enjoyed traveling with scores of dolphins, and caught a huge 60 + pound Red Drum (Channel Bass) that fed the crew twice, with considerable meat still in the freezer at home.
Throughout the trip, Family Knot performed well in all conditions. Anyone who owns a boat understands the constant maintenance and repair work that is required to safely venture into the watery world. A boat at sail demands constant attention from the crew. Rhythms are established: constant monitoring of instruments, checks of boat systems, protocols for setting sails, rules for changing sails for shifting sea conditions and principles for behavior among the crew are followed. The consequences for violating these rhythms and standards of conduct tend to exact a higher price at sea than they do on land. Leaving items around in the cramped living conditions of a boat is viewed with little good humor from the rest of the crew. Failure to close a drawer or hatch, with the passing of one extra large wave can result in hours of extra work. Life on a small boat tends to bring into focus what is really important in daily life.