Dark-gray clouds shrouded the nearby mountains and an ominous looking squall line moved briskly over the Strait of Georgia as we motored northward across a dead calm sea. In the distance I watched as three sailboats heeled sharply from the force of a strong northwesterly breeze while being enveloped by the rain.
The wind was coming, so Jill and I worked swiftly to get Yahtzee’s mainsail up before it hit. And after successfully dodging the majority of the rain, we settled in for the rest of our nearly 12-hour run north as the sun came out to dry the deck and warm up the day.
When the first glimpses of the mountains towering above Desolation Sound came into view while I was playing on the foredeck with Porter, I instantly knew we’d made the right decision.
Sitting in a glassy anchorage just 24 hours prior, we’d abruptly changed plans and decided to make the 70-mile run north to Cortes Island and Desolation Sound a week sooner than anticipated. As is typical for Jill and me, our previous plan was quickly forgotten and we eagerly pulled the charts into the cockpit to compose several routes based on the forecast and tide.
I knew we’d see some rain, wind and sun, but in all likelihood, I didn’t think it was going to be so nasty that we’d have to turn back or pull in somewhere short of our destination. It wasn’t.
Trying to stick to a strict schedule on a cruising sailboat is a recipe for stress and disappointment, and can be downright dangerous if that schedule puts you in harms way. We’re fortunate to have the time and flexibility to change plans on a whim or to not really make a plan until the last minute. And there are many cases when the plan has been altered while underway.
Shortly after arriving in stunning Desolation Sound, we ran into our buddy Mark who invited us to meet up with some friends of his that were anchored in Isabel Bay. “Sure, lets go!” we decided without hesitation, and got going soon after. We ended up spending two days in that superb anchorage sharing meals with new friends, kayaking and swimming. It couldn’t have been more idyllic.
For us, making these snap decisions and taking the spontaneous routes along our journey is part of the fun and adventure of it all.
But it’s not a go wherever we want, whenever we want existence. I have work obligations to account for and stops for laundry, food and fuel have to be built into the schedule when necessary.
The weather and tide factor into our decision-making on a near daily basis and this time of year we are able to roam more freely as dry, sunny days with relatively predictable winds are the norm. Come late fall and winter, though, cold fronts will start sweeping into the Northwest off the Pacific Ocean and we won’t be able to live quite as fancy free with our cruising schedule.
The other caveat to getting to where we need to go is being prepared. From mechanical issues to provisioning, Yahtzee has to be sound and ready to make way at all times. Our recent engine issues have been well documented, but baring something big such as that, our longstanding rule is that we need to be ready to go in 15 minutes or less.
Even though our daily, weekly and monthly sailing plans may change as often as the tides, our routines, especially for the boys, largely don’t. Porter and Magnus still eat, sleep, play and read books at the same time everyday, and we try not to mess with that. After all, Yahtzee is our home, so everything is right here anyway.
WHEN WILL YOU GO?
“When are you heading to Mexico?” “Do you want to sail around the world?” “Are you going to homeschool the boys?” We get questions like these and more on a very regular basis.
The thing is, we learned a long time ago that trying to put cruising into a neat, one- , two- , or even five-year plan is absolutely ridiculous for us. Even though it does work for some, the truth is that it doesn’t for others, and everyone’s cruising plans are different anyway — there’s simply no perfect formula.
Our lives are here and now. Sure we have an overarching idea of what we’d like to do, but in reality, we take our extended plan just a few months at a time. We love living-aboard and cruising the incredible waters of the Pacific Northwest, and we’re in no hurry to leave.
Though that level of uncertainty and spontaneity can be a tough pill for some to swallow, it works well for us because we know the plan can and will change many, many times in between. Which is why we call it Rollin’ With Yahtzee.