All Part of the Adventure

We left Tenacatita and headed a short distance south to Barra de Navidad.  There weren’t predicted to be any significant winds, but after we got out of the bay it was blowing about 30 knots.  That’s a bit more than we like to sail with, but the boat can handle it.  The challenge was getting into the harbor and docking the boat at the marina with that wind.  After a first attempt, we determined that there was no way we were going to be able to turn the boat into the slip down the fairway, so we just pulled up the outside of the dock.  Quite a few people from the marina came over to help grab our docklines, which was much appreciated.

We arrived just in time for a wonderful Valentine’s Day dinner at the Grand Isla Navidad Resort.

We enjoyed the marina and resort and made some new friends.  But, my favorite thing was the French Baker who comes around to the boats each morning delivering fresh baguettes and croissants.

We left Barra de Navidad after a couple of days and continued south toward Manzanillo.  We had just left the harbor at Barra and put the sails up.  We were about to shut down the engine when all of the sudden a loud alarm went off.  We know the common alarms, like the bilge alarm, but this was one I hadn’t heard before.  Mike ran down into the cabin and then yelled at me to check the engine temperature.  That was it.  The engine had overheated.

I quickly killed the engine as we started to brainstorm what could have happened to overheat the engine.  We discovered the culprit.  Before we left Barra, Mike had gone below to open the thru-hole that lets the cooling water in for the engine.  Well, the thru-hole was apparently already open, and Mike must have been distracted. He though he was opening the thru-hole and he really closed it.  He said in nine years of owning the boat, he has never made this mistake.

He was pretty upset, convinced that he had destroyed the engine.  I tried to calm him down a bit.  We were a sailboat after all, and we could sail!  Mike was able to get a call off to his diesel mechanic back in LA who didn’t seem as alarmed as Mike was.  The mechanic said he probably just burned up the impeller, but other than that it was probably ok.  Luckily, we carry lots of spare parts on board, including a spare impeller.

Mike got to work changing the impeller while I was behind the wheel. We had a few hours before we were to arrive at Manzanillo.  It took Mike a couple of hours, but he was able to change the impeller and the engine cooled down.  He was still kicking himself over a completely easy mistake to make.  It was my turn to echo the words that Mike has said to me many times when when we have had some sort of difficult situation: “It is all part of the adventure!”

Safe and sound anchored in Manzanillo:

So, this got me thinking about what exactly is an “adventure.”  It is what Mike and I have been calling our journey.  But, I wanted to really think about what that meant.

I recently read a book called Flying South by Barbara Cushman Rowell that my dad gave me for Christmas.  (Great book, by the way.)  The author writes about her experience flying her single engine Cessna from California to Patagonia.  She is frustrated by her life and living in the shadow of her famous husband, who is a photographer and rock climber.  She feels like she is simply tagging along on his adventures and needs one of her own.

So, she becomes a pilot and is then encouraged by one of her husband’s friends to fly her plane in tandem with his down to Patagonia and back. She endures instrument failures, political coups, tropical storms and a horrible rafting accident.  She is pushed beyond what she thinks her limits are, overcomes her fears and talks about how much the journey changed her.

Tragically, she and her husband were killed in a plane crash (she was not the pilot) shortly after she wrote the book.  But, I think it makes her words have even more impact. She says this about flying and her adventure…

“Fear isn’t a reason not to fly.  I know now that fear is my biological warning system that I can tune into to keep from blundering on into disaster.  I see fear of flying as a beam of light through the fog radiating from a lighthouse:  it lets me know that something on the horizon could wreak havoc if ignored.  A veteran bush pilot once said to me, ‘The day you’re not afraid is the day I don’t want to fly with you.’
“I could have found plenty of reasons not of fly my single-engine airplane to Patagonia- but I would have missed the greatest adventure of my life.  Even though I may have slain my fears one by one this time, I know they’ll be back.  And when they return, I’ll fight them off again. Anything truly worth doing in this life comes with risk, and risk is never without fear.”
I thought about that a lot.   So, here is what I think an adventure entails:
(1) It is something unexpected – not something everyone ordinarily does
(2) It presents a challenge, either mentally, physically or both
(3) It involves risk and overcoming fear
(4) It fundamentally changes you.
So, I want to know if you have had a grand adventure.  If so, what was it and how did it change you?  Or, do you have a grand adventure you want to undertake.  What is holding you back?
I think the hardest part of our adventure was casting off the docklines.  It involved preparing the boat, training, obtaining gear and overcoming obstacles of finances, our careers and our relationship.  And, we had to ignore the naysayers who didn’t understand what we were doing.  But, finally letting go and leaving the dock was the most freeing thing we have ever done!


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