It’s raining when we arrive on St. Thomas. The boys look at me with disbelieving Are you kidding? expressions on their faces. I tell them it’s probably just a quick storm. Indeed, it blows over in five minutes. Matt picks us up from the airport and we ride in a van across the island to Red Hook where the boat is in a marina. On the way, we debrief about his passage. I say something about the captain. Matt gives me a look and says “calling him ‘captain’ is being overly generous.” I hear about some of the travails – a man who is frequently wrong but seemingly never takes in such feedback (and therefore never apologizes). He continues to give blustery advice to the end (most often unsolicited) in order to preserve his own self-image as the expert sailor. I cannot imagine being married to such a person. Continue reading
It’s 11:30 am (11/25) and we are on the train from Boston to Newark. It feels wonderful to have a few hours to just sit – no dishes to wash, no laundry to do, no babies to soothe. Taking care of no one’s needs but my own and the boys. The world is rushing by outside but there is relative calm within (this is actually the mindset I am hoping to cultivate on this trip). It’s easy to get caught up in the craziness of life. We fly out of Newark, NJ tomorrow morning and then from Miami to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. Continue reading
Matt has bought a local phone in the USVI and has said he has free calls to the US. Therefore, our calls are a bit more frequent and are less ‘missing you’ calls and more about tactical things. On a recent one, this was our exchange: “What the hell” he squawks at me, “are you buying on a site called Orbitz?” “That,” I calmly respond, “would be something called plane tickets and hotels for while the crew stayed on the boat.” “Oh,” he mumbles in a considerably more piped-down tone. “Well,” he says, “we just got a HUGE Visa bill. We really need to watch our spending if we want to continue this trip.” Continue reading
I have been tracking Matt on the SPOT because it seems he is getting close to the Virgin Islands. My phone rings Wednesday morning but I miss the call. Somehow I know it was him. He leaves a message “God, … I think we made it. It has been so hard.” He says he spotted land at 5:30 am and they’ll be there in a few hours.
“You’re a frickin’ great sailor!” These are the first words Matt says to me when he calls from the satellite phone out in the ocean. He said the sat phone was only for emergencies so it’s nice that he’s just calling to talk. The drama at sea continues. No one has been tossed overboard yet but it might be getting close. The upside of it all is that Matt’s estimation of my sailing skills has skyrocketed. In comparison to the current crew, I seem like a female version of Hal Roth. I knew something good would come of it all. Continue reading
Matt has sent me a satellite communication about a time to talk. I can send free texts to the sat phone if they are 35 characters or less. I suggest Sunday night at 9 pm, after all the kids are in bed. It’s 8:40 pm and then 8:50. I have butterflies wondering if he will call. He calls at 9:01 but the call disconnects. He calls back and says he can’t call back again because it’s so expensive. We get disconnected three more times. It’s not a long conversation but he sounds great. Although I don’t have too much detail, things have turned out as I predicted … the interpersonal dynamics are more challenging than anything else. He is with two blusterous people who, to put it delicately, may overrate their abilities. It is hard for people like this to receive any feedback or to listen very well. Matt knows his stuff. Technically, he is a damn good sailor. Two examples. At one point Matt is watching storm clouds on the horizon and checking the weather. He tells the captain he thinks they should bring in the sails. The captain says they can leave them up for another hour. Five minutes later, Matt insists on bringing them down. Twenty minutes later, the winds are 35 knots and they are in the thick of the storm. The second is on the arrival to Bermuda. The captain Continue reading
Matt’s mom (Carole) and I have been tracking Matt’s progress on the SPOT tracker all week. The boys and I drive from MA to NH and arrive at my sister’s place around dinner time on Wed (11/5). It is a bit chaotic with the four kids, the babies and bedtime so it’s late when I finally check my phone. There is a text from Carole – all it says is ‘call me.’ When I call she says that the SPOT tracker stopped working for a number of hours and she didn’t know where the boat was. She was out to dinner when her cell rang from an unidentified Boston caller. It turns out it was the Coast Guard saying that the head of the rally had lost track of Matt and did she know where he was or had he been in contact with her. The answer was ‘no’ to both of those questions but she kept her cool. She gave them all the boat info and tracking numbers and they called him on the satellite phone. He was fine and just needed to reboot the SPOT tracker. I was glad I had missed the drama until it was resolved.
The night doula we had in OH with Joshua for 3 months came up to NH and will be with my sister through January. She has the downstairs suite so my sister is very apologetic that the boys and I are sleeping with her 7-year-old in her room. The three of them on the floor and me in the bed. I assure her that the bedroom has more square footage than the whole boat and that we are fine. I return to my role as helper. Because I’m doing somewhat mindless work (changing diapers, comforting fretful babies, doing dishes, making meals, running errands, doing bedtime routines), I occupy my mind wondering how much money someone would have to pay me to simultaneously care for two infants and two young children. I finally decide on a minimum of $10K a day. On Saturday, because I can tell she needs rest, I tell my sister I’ll take the four kids to the lake house for the weekend.
It’s a 70-minute drive and I have no idea where I’m going so Google Maps is navigating. The phone rings. An unidentified caller. I never answer those calls but something tells me to pick this one up. It’s Matt excitedly saying he can see land (i.e., Bermuda). He’s on speaker and the boys and I are all talking at once we are so thrilled to hear his voice. Google Maps is saying something important about an exit and Matt keeps saying he can’t hear me.
I have four kids in the van (two of whom belong to someone else) so I am eyeing traffic as I click to take him off speaker phone. In horror, I realize that I just ended his satellite call. The boys fall silent. “You hung up on him?” one of them asks. Later, I keep checking his progress. It looks like he lands in Bermuda some time on Saturday (11/9) night.
We get to the lake house and the kids play outside during the day and then we build fairy houses. The 3-year-old sleeps in my room. After being woken up by him at 11 pm, midnight, 1 am and 4 am, I decide I’d need to up my daily fee to $50K. It’s the hardest job in the world. My sister shares that she left the house last week with her 3-year-old and the babies and made two quick stops. Add in feedings, burping, changing diapers, etc. and she arrived home seven hours later (again, at least $50K/day). We are celebrated one day a year for this job? I’m starting to think Mother’s Day is a government-created holiday so that women don’t march on Washington demanding payment for ensuring the survival of humanity. Ladies, who’s with me?
The crew spends Saturday finishing up final boat projects; the boys and I tour some of the Newport mansions. They are stunning and have a great historical audio tour which keeps the boys engaged (and lets me check ‘boat school’ off my list). It’s rainy and the wind is howling. On Sunday, Matt drives the 78-year-old crew member to the airport to catch a flight home. Continue reading
After doing final errands in Fairhaven, MA we head to Newport, RI. After two tries, we find a place that still has a few pumpkins. Since the boys now have wetsuits, they will be ninja scuba divers this year (ninja sailors last year). They want to be scary so I tell them we’ll buy Halloween make-up. I quickly stop at Rite-Aid and let them wait in the car. Because it’s Halloween and everything is 50% off, I also buy a scary mask. I come back outside, slip unnoticed behind the car, and pull the mask over my head. I sneak around to Joshua’s side, pound on the window and peer in. Continue reading