Thunderstorm over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Ormond Beach, Florida. Taken by Jason Weingart.*
I’ve been thinking about this post for a year now and I still am not sure I can properly convey my experience the night that we sailed back from the Bahamas. After pulling into Grand Cay and taking stock of the up-coming weather, Dan and I quickly realized that we needed to make a choice quickly. That night and the next day were expected to be calm sailing and low waves for the crossing back to Florida but after that we were seeing 2 solid weeks of high wind and waves. We made the decision to head out at once to get back to the States and pulled up anchor before we ever set foot on the island.
We set our course for the Fort Pierce inlet, had some dinner and settled-in for a long night of motoring. The water was glassy and there was not a hint of wind from any direction. Dan took the first watch while I put Carter to bed and tried to get a couple hours of sleep in spite of the rumbling engine. When I woke up and went out, I could tell right away that Dan was not happy. A huge line of thunderclouds had appeared on the swiftly-disappearing horizon.
Typically, Dan loves watching a storm (evidenced by our pictures and video from the inside of a tropical storm at anchor) but the idea of getting struck by lightning in the middle of nowhere on a windless night was really starting to worry him. However, as we were too far from land to outrun the storm or anchor, the only real option was to keep moving and hope that we weren’t struck. (If we had been, we did have back-ups by means of secondary GPS items and physical charts, but we still weren’t relishing the idea of replacing all of our charts or especially the possibility of the engine dying in a strike and stranding us until the wind picked back up.) Dan went down to try to sleep after I assured him that I would wake him if anything serious happened.
Being on a boat at night is very different than during the day. The only light was from the stars and our running lights. The water was still glassy and the wind hadn’t picked-up. It was as if nothing in the world existed in that moment other than our boat and the water. And then came the lightning.
It’s hard for me to put into words the majesty of those few hours I spent watching the storms. One moment, everything was blackness, the entire world consumed by the inky shroud of night and in a single instant the entire sky would be lit up to reveal a monstrous wall of towering clouds stretching the entire width of the horizon in front of us. The dance of lightning strikes jumping from one cloud to another and down to the water’s surface was breath-taking, awe-inspiring, and terrifying all at once. At that moment, more than any other in my life, I was overpowered with reverence for the forces on this planet and the One who created them.
We eventually made it through with no damage to ourselves or our boat by early the next morning and motored through the rest of a calm day to safely enter Fort Pierce inlet, our trip to the Bahamas officially complete. However, those few hours touched my soul in a way that I am pretty confident I will never forget.
*While I was too in awe (and afraid of ruining our camera in the pouring rain) to take any pictures, this picture is the closest image I could find to what it looked like that night.
Are you ready for this?
As I mentioned in my over-due post last week, Horizon is currently for sale in Indiantown, Florida. We’ve listed her with Advantage Yachts for $39,000, which is a great deal considering all of the awesome upgrades that she comes with! Here are a few posts that highlight what’s gone into making her live-aboard ready:
With tons of interior space, 2 cabins, 2 heads, and very good headroom for a boat of this age, it was an awesome home for the three of us at dock and at anchor. We hope to be able to pass her on to someone looking for an amazing adventure of their own! If you or someone you know might be interested, contact us or visit our YachtWorld.com listing.
At least we still get the benefit of beautiful sunsets.
So…for those of you out there who can do some simple math, it’s been 11 months since my last post. A lot can happen in 11 months and a lot HAS happened since our time in the Hub of Abaco. While I will be revisiting the end of our Bahamas adventure, I had to restart my posts somewhere so I’ll start with a little explanation of where we are today. Many apologies to those of you (there were quite a few!) who were following along with our trip and weren’t sure whether we met a watery end after not hearing from us for a while.
Let me start by saving that we loved our few months of cruising and have absolutely zero regrets about the whole process. The costs were all worth the journey and it was an amazing time together as a family. The water was beautiful, the people were incredible, and we learned a lot about ourselves and each other in a short period of time. The Bahamas will always hold a very special place in our hearts.
However, I’m sure you can hear the “BUT” in my words above. Those of you who have spoken to us recently know that we have settled back into land life and are selling Horizon. There are a lot of reasons why we believed this to be the best choice for us, but here are the big ones:
- Cruising is a lonely business. I’m not going to lie, I did not expect loneliness to be an issue for Dan and I. We generally are pretty independent people who aren’t big on crowds. Also, there were generally people around to have great conversation with, cruisers and locals alike. People always talked about how quickly you make amazing friends while cruising, which is SO true, but they somehow forget to mention how quickly you sail away from those friends as well. That constant cycle in just the year and half we lived on our boat moving between marinas and cruising was a lot tougher all three of us than we had ever considered.
- This one goes together with number 1, but has to be its own reason. Carter was lonely. Our social butterfly does great with adults, but he thrives with other kids to play with. If it was hard for us to say good-bye to new friends, for him it was like ripping his heart out. As a child of parents who moved every few years, I just couldn’t bear to watch him go through the good-bye process every couple of weeks. It was hard for us to weigh this against the benefit of cruising for him and us as a family, but this one was definitely a major factor.
- Carter and I both got seasick…a lot. Short trips were fine but throw in any kind of waves and more than a few hours and all bets were off. This made for a lot of discomfort for Carter and I and plenty of lonely hours at the wheel for Dan. The prospect of sailing farther than the Bahamas in this state just wasn’t super appealing for any of us.
- Finally, there wasn’t a particular call for Dan and I to keep going. That may sound like a lame reason to stop, but for us it just made sense. Cruising is not something that we felt like we could keep doing just for the sake of doing it. It is an amazing life-style, but it could be a nightmare if you went into it without enthusiasm.
Will we ever go cruising again? There’s a good chance we will. Or maybe next time we’ll try out an RV or go backpacking across Europe. Honestly, we don’t know. What we do know is that living on Horizon was one of the best things that we have ever decided to do and we wouldn’t change one thing about it.
Follow your Dreams. Follow the Horizon.