Boating Adventures | "Anticipation: The Agony and the Ecstasy" | Article and Photos by Vicki Totten

Anticipation, anticipation
Is makin' me late
Is keepin' me waitin'
- Carly Simon

Anticipation. What an interesting emotion. It can either be quite exciting or can fill us with dread - depending on what we are anticipating. Personally, I prefer the former type of anticipation, though I'm certainly not immune to also engaging in negative anticipation. Fortunately, planning for trips usually provides me with the excited type of anticipation. And if the trip happens to involve water and/or boats, well, then it is pretty easy for me to conjure up an excited anticipation. But I am also aware that we all channel our anticipation in different ways. Take for example, the items currently scattered about my house.

As I look around, I see three boards with cleats and lines attached to them - all in different areas of my house. Outside, near my husband's clay studio I found boat fenders made from water bottles hanging from lines knotted to two sides of my husband's saw - placed just as they would be if they were attached to a boat instead of a saw. Weird, huh? Since I didn't place these there, that means my husband Stan must have. Should I be worrying that he is "losing it?" Is he confused and thinks we are still on the boat? Is he missing being on the boat? I suspect it is none of those. I think instead that it is his way of handling his anticipation related to an upcoming trip we have planned.

In a few months, we plan to fly to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and then ferry over to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), where we will pick up a 38' catamaran we are chartering as part of a flotilla of boats exploring the BVI together. Since it isn't until the end of April, that means I have a few months to enjoy the anticipation of taking that trip. For me, it takes the form of making lots of lists and handling lots and lots of details - and bringing it up in conversation every chance I get. I am thinking that is not how my husband expresses his anticipation.

His way of dealing with our upcoming adventure is - if I am interpreting these clues accurately - to prepare for it. More specifically, it looks as though in anticipation of our trip, he is expecting his crew to get up to speed. First he nudged me toward taking some new on-line courses with Nauticed, which I did. I have to admit that the chartering course and the catamaran course were both very informative and I am glad he encouraged me to take them. But then he followed that suggestion up with one to hold a "knotting" workshop at our house with the part of the crew that is based in Austin. Ahhh, so that explains those boards and cleats. As for the fenders, well apparently he has expanded the curriculum to include a tutorial about the various parts of the boat, and about docking. So rather than my concluding that he has lost it, I fear that what it really means is that he may not have faith in his crew and is anticipating that we may need a little help.

Admittedly, he probably could have found more competent crew members to invite. But honestly, we're not that bad. Angie has owned a 22' sailboat for probably 20 years, and has crewed with us on our big trip to Port Aransas and out into the ocean last spring. Our friends Kevin and Claude live in New York and Florida and had a boat docked in New Jersey for several years. They have taken all of the needed American Sailing Association courses and Claude is going to serve as First Mate. And Megan, while not an experienced sailor, is a water person who loves messing around on boats, has been to the British Virgin Islands before, and will make a great crew member because of her positive attitude and adventurous spirit. That and she is the funniest person I know - a quality not to be underestimated when traveling.

As for me, well I have to confess that in the three years we have owned our boat I have been quite content to have Stan be the Captain while I served as a minimally competent crew member. I've taken most of the same sailing lessons he has, but always in the role of a crew member, not as someone who it would be expected would be in charge of the boat. But in anticipation of our upcoming trip, I have been forced to up my game a bit.

One area of reluctance has always been docking and undocking the boat. My fear is primarily based on concern for other people's property - specifically those boats docked next to us. Well, I finally made a breakthrough last week when we were on the boat. I overcame my previous reluctance and actually docked the boat for the first time. Thankfully it was a low wind day. While it wasn't a perfect docking, it was a perfectly ok one - and no one was hurt in the process. I would have preferred that three of our dock mates had not been standing next to our slip waiting to see if there would be any damage - or maybe they really were there, as they said, to see if we needed any help. But still, I would have preferred there not be any witnesses had things not gone as planned.

I suppose the next step will be to get up the nerve to be at the helm when we leave the slip. In the meantime, our Knotting Workshop is coming up, so I'm thinking I should try and get some practice with my cleat hitch or clove hitch or bowline. I am anticipating, after all, being a star pupil - or at the very least - helping reassure my husband that we are the right crew for the trip.

Vicki and husband, ceramic artist Stan Irvin, are both retired professors who have discovered the joys of Rockport and living part-time on their 33' sailboat, while exploring new sailing destinations and adventures.

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