If you've been sharing our adventure for a while you may remember a time when we were in Portland Maine with a broken engine, September growing old and the nights becoming uncomfortably cold. We were in limbo, waiting for two different shops to give us a quote on the engine swap, anxiously anticipating the arrival of our new engine. Covid was still rearing its ugly head causing manpower and materials delays, and we were getting crushed between the need for mandatory repairs and the inevitable arrival of winter.
A rock and a hard spot. Nothing to do but wait. One of the shops hoped aloud to have us sailing South by Thanksgiving but weren't sure if they could pull it off yet.
We fired up the Mr. Buddy propane heater and rubbed our hands in front of it before tucking in to bed, coaxing the dog onto the blanket to better share our body heat.
With nothing productive to do, my brain did what it does, it spun and spun and spun until I wore myself out, then it continued to spin in my sleep causing bizarre and intense dreams that awakened me in cold sweats, gasping for breath.
It's important to note that the Maine Yacht Center lives right next door to the B&M baked beans factory. Downwind, in fact, and often we would fall asleep to the smell of baked beans being prepared for canning.
One of these nights I was flopping around in bed with my brain doing its pressure-cooker routine when my subconscious must have picked up on the baked bean smell and registered it as toast. Probably then it took the additional leap to associate it somehow with fire and therefore dangerous. But in my semi-conscious and exhausted state, I sat straight up and the shout that escaped my lips was TOAST!!!!!!
Yes, I woke myself up shouting toast. The funnier part was that it woke Lance too, and he leapt out of bed ready to run, both fists closed and swinging at the empty air - fully prepared to fight whatever it was from a dead sleep. He was absolutely gonna destroy... toast. Then we blinked at each other and both of us crinkled our brows at the same time. Toast?
Later that morning, over coffee and - you guessed it, toast - we agreed it might be best to hand the keys over to the shop and let them do the work over the winter. It turned out to be the right decision because the Nor'Easter that came in Thanksgiving weekend was epic, but since Minerva was safe on stands and we were tucked in with family in California, neither ship nor crew were bothered much by the vicious storm.
Why do I bring this story to you now, so long after the fact? Because I now recognize the brain-pressure-cooker pattern. It reemerges whenever we are on the cusp of some brand new adventure. I've concluded it's my body's way of trying to steer me back into the comfort zone. Like an undermining pre-teen frenemy, it whispers these hateful little messages:
you can't do this
it's too scary
you aren't clever enough, prepared enough, strong enough
you aren't a good enough sailor
and on and on and on and on
Last night's dream was about a vicious storm attacking us. It had a face that looked a lot like Animal the Muppet, and it growled at us and tried to swallow Minerva whole while we tacked and tacked to escape the giant red snapping mouth. Ridiculous, right?
Must mean we are stepping up to the starting line of a brand-new adventure. Yep, 500+ miles across the open Caribbean Sea from St. Croix to Curacao. This will be our longest nonstop sail yet by double.
Shut up brain.
It's gonna be awesome.