Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lost dreams......sailing around the world.....

In 1998, Gary heard about the pending Y2K dilemma.  The belief by millions in those days was that the computers that were not programmed to function well beyond midnight 1999, would actually cause the world to shut down and there would be may chaos, government shutdowns, riots, etc. Of course, since Gary has always leaned toward the dramatic side of life and is a wee bit gullible, we had to prepare!!!
I clearly remember living at the Pittsburg Marina and discussing what would happen when the electricity goes out, food runs out and all the people who left San Francisco and Oakland walked east that they could end up HUNGRY at our house.  What would we do?  Options included: having heavy artillery at the house to protect us; Buying a tractor trailer and having a destination in the mountains where we could hunker down; having enough food to last us two years with significant water storage.  So many solutions but none seemed right. 
Gary looked out our back door and saw the perfect solution.  "What about a sailboat?"  I replied, "Fine, except for two problems:  1) we don't own a boat and 2) we don't know how to sail."  For those of you who know my husband, you know what is coming....sailing lessons started the next weekend.
Now, I don't mean in-the-local-pond Hobie cat kind of sailing lessons.  I mean U.S. Sailing Association Basic Keelboat 1 sailing lessons on San Francisco Bay.  Gary did all the research and came up with a plan.  In his mind, we could finish all 7 levels of the U.S. Sailing certifications before 2000 hit and we would be ready to sail a boat out of the Pittsburg CA harbor and out under the Golden Gate Bridge and go anywhere in the world via sailboat.
The first class was two full weekends on the Bay, learning, drilling, sailing and taking classes.  One must also know that I am deathly afraid of water, so staying in the boat was a real need for me!!!  So, I am afraid of water and he is asking me to learn to pilot a 24 foot sailboat that is right on the water.  The winds on the Bay during our first lesson was about 20 knots......that is where the waves have white caps.  I was terrified.  But, I learned, didn't die and unbelievably, went back the second weekend.  We both passed Basic Keelboat one....right on schedule.  We became die-hard sailors. 
Gary didn't talk to the sailing school before we unfolded this whole plan and found that our plan was aggressive.....way too aggressive.  Anyway, we soon started Basic Keelboat II.  Also, another two full days each weekend for 2 weeks.  Exhausting and very difficult for two people who have never sailed.  We had to do many private charters to get in sailing hours.  We did.  We passed. The clock was ticking away. 
Gary on one of our SF Bay charters....sailing in McCovey Cove outside of Pacific Bell Park in SF.
We bought and stored 2 years worth of food, candles, fuel and all necessary supplies to outfit a boat.  (We didn't have one)
We continued taking all the sailing lessons and next took Bareboat Charter.  We learned more techniques, man overboard drills, and navigation than I can even remember.  We chartered boats every weekend with other certified sailors so we could get in charter hours.  We passed Bareboat and again, were now certified at three levels. We were in almost $10,000 but could both charter boats and handle it in fair weather and heavy storm situations.  I failed Navigation class.  Of course, using a GPS was easy, but if no land systems worked, GPSs would not work, right?  It was a huge setback.  I took Navigation class 3 times and just could not nail it!  We were not going to make the deadline of all classes.  Had to re-work, realistically, the plan.
Ada at the helm of a Sailboat I actually later ran aground on the Berkeley Reef on SF Bay.
Meanwhile, we were not only sailing (exhausting) every weekend, but we were also boat shopping ......I mean seriously.  Gary had the dream to sell the house, quit my job, close our business at the time and sail out the SF bay to parts unknown.  Full-timer cruisers are a special breed.  We were headed that way.
 Gary was passionate about this and nothing else.  We never bought the boat.  It was an Amel 53 foot Super Maramu....went to Southern California and looked at it. We did not have the money and decided that if things got that bad, we could offer up our "stores" to other cruisers and trade our sailing skills for passage.  Or, we could steal a boat and take off. (Steal a boat, really?)
Well, Y2k came and went....the world did not go any crazier than it would have otherwise.  It was rather anti-climatic.  Disappointing actually. 
I lost interest in the dream.  We went through a very hard period over the fact that I did not want to leave my job and be a cruiser.  I could not get my head around it.  He wanted to go cruising and then when we aged, sell the boat and buy a house in the mountains.  I agreed to go if we bought the house in the mountains first so I knew we had a fall back plan.  (Thus, the whole Panamanian experience...that is another blog) We built the house and somehow, slowly, the dream started dying. 
We chartered alot less.  Every single time I ever went sailing, I got sick on the drive to Berkeley from where we sailed.  I mean nauseous.  I never got over it until I got behind the wheel or in front of a tiller.  I was fine on the water.  Gary never understood my fear.  I decided to go out on my own, without him to prove to myself that I was also an accomplished sailor.  I attended two years worth of women's sailing seminars.  On the last one, the boat I was on had the owner (a man) and six other women who had never sailed before that day and were there to see if they liked it. The transmission died in the boat and the owner had to stay down in the hull and manually change the gears to forward and reverse based on my commands from the deck. I had to bring the boat to the dock yelling commands down to him.  I had never done this...... I nailed the landing and did not even bump the boat on the dock.  I was really good.
The following weekend, Gary and I went out with a large group for a refresher course.  I was at the helm and got my hand caught in the traveler (the piece of equipment that moves the large boom from one side of the boat to the other) and was injured pretty badly.   That was in August of 2002.  In February 2003, we moved to Virginia for my career.
We would not sail again for four years since we moved to Virginia and had no access to our type of water.  Somewhere in those four years, the dream died all together.  I somehow think that disappointment is part of the dying of Gary.  He gave up for a long time after that.  He went into Real Estate then and we started new dreams. 
Four + years later, we moved back to California and rejoined the Sailing Club. We took a refresher course and I performed very well and remembered most everything.  Gary forgot many things.  Confidence lost.  Dream dead.  That was a horrible day. Looking back....that day should have been my first clue regarding the memory loss.  How could he forget the basics of what he loved so much?


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