The Coffee Crisis

In the big scheme of life they are irrelevant, just one more moment out of the 34,160,000 – 53,611,000 moments I will likely have in my expected lifetime…give or take a million or two if you measure a moment as “a minute”. Multiply the above by 60 if you feel a moment is better defined as a second. But somehow those moments have significance at the time and can create a lot of stress, or joy. It just depends upon what happened and how one deals with it – as well as any lingering long term consequences. While sailing Oh! in rough conditions it can be pretty bouncy, with sudden abrupt and unpredictable movements…and that movement can lead to a lot of “memorable moments”. Some are fun, some frustrating and some are…a crisis. But I jest, not a real crisis, just a momentary lapse of emotional control and outburst of all the #&*@§! stress relievers.

Such as it was as I left the tranquility of Old Fort Bay to return to Nassau. It was daybreak and a fresh large travel mug of coffee was waiting for me at the helm seats mug holder. With the anchor secured and the calm waters of Old Fort Bay receding behind me, I turned Oh! in to the wind and started the upwind 10 nmi bash and crash to Nassau. I needed to get there early so the two empty propane bottles could be refilled. It was Friday and the Nassau Gas agent had agreed to meet me before noon. There are four propane bottles on Oh! which gives her about 3 months supply of fuel for the stove, oven and bbq. Given the rapidly deteriorating global conditions and entry restrictions, it would be very foolish not to get them filled. It was also prudent to stock up on non perishable foods to ensure Oh! was ready at a moments notice to put to sea. So Friday was the last day before the weekend closures that I could get Oh! prepared.

As Oh! left the beautiful calm clear aqua waters of Old Fort Bay and turned east, it became clear it wasn’t going to be a smooth ride. Oh! pounded from wave to wave with the spray through the mesh of the trampoline creating a shower of glittering droplets. They were bouncing and flying in the morning breeze with the rise and fall of the bows. Despite being uncomfortable, it really was beautiful watching the interplay of the early morning sunshine and waves create a shower of diamonds across Oh!’s bow. I set the course, engaged “auto” and decided to do one last check to make sure there were no hatches open, or anything that could suddenly take flight. As I went to grab the seat post and descend from the helm station a sudden lurch from a rogue wave had my hand missing the rail and finding my large mug of coffee instead…which sent it flying out of the mug holder. Why is it something that gets triggered so blindingly fast, suddenly switches to slow motion as I watched helplessly as the mug descended to the cockpit floor? The gasps of profanities were flying out of my mouth even before the coffee exploded all over the cockpit. It somehow managed to coat most surfaces within a radius of about 1.5 meters. It covered part of the galley counter, fridge doors, galley sole, cockpit sole, seat cushions, cockpit table, all the door and locker tracks, every step to the helm station including the helm seat, and each of the seating surfaces in the cockpit. To look at the instant mess, one would think a multi-gallon pail of coffee had been sprayed in every direction. The next hour was spent head down trying to cleanup coffee as Oh! lurched and pounded from wave to wave. The hoped for calmer morning seas and relaxing two hour upwind push to Nassau had now become 3 hours of nasty up wind slogging at just 3 knots. All the while I was trying to keep from adding the contents of my stomach to the spilt coffee. Looking back at the entire incident, all I can do is laugh and shake my head. One of those “moments” I won’t soon forget. Unfortunately, I was so ticked off at my clumsiness, I didn’t take pictures. So two learnings;

1. Move slowly and deliberately, never in haste when on a boat

2. When life’s little “moments” happen, grab the camera! It only takes a few seconds and I will have a “moment” in pictures to look back at and laugh over in the future.

3. Then, once I have finished going through all those words associated with the @#$&*!symbols on my key board, take a deep breath and laugh at it…it is not the crisis it appears to be at the time.

It sure was a huge mess though! It was also a fitting start to what became a day jam packed with frustration and challenges of all sorts, all resulting from the Bahamian governments attempts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Oh! Is currently in the Bahamas and trying to determine where to go for Hurricane season. Normally this is not a difficult decision. However, as anyone who is awake knows, these are not normal times. With only three viable options to chose from it should be relatively simple.

1. Get north of Cape Hatteras which means going back to the Chesapeake Bay

2. Go across the Atlantic to the Azores, or

3. Go south to Grenada

Unfortunately, it is not that simple. The Azores are closed. Almost every Island enroute to Grenada is closed, or has strict quarantines, and the USA is rapidly closing down as well. So what am I doing while trying to decide where to go? Boat stuff… or more precisely, finally getting time to do some of the bigger tasks that require multiple hours to address. Stuff that is awkward or not easily done with guests aboard. You know, real cruising, more accurately described as “fixing your boat in exotic locations.”

Things like fixing the Trampoline where a corner got ripped open during the passage from Bermuda to St. Martin. Mending some of the chafe and general wear and tear on cockpit canvas, installing some new electrical outlets for USB and 12v power, installing the remote anchor switch as well as a bunch of engine maintenance on both the diesels and outboards. I hope to also get time to replace some cabinet edging, redesign and re-install the cockpit sun shades and get Oh! polished and waxed.

Ultimately, all of the above will get done in a beautiful bay, far from the anxieties and risks the population at large and my friends and family are dealing with while trying to navigate the coronavirus pandemic. The news media is doing a spectacular job of keeping us informed with the daily on slot of frightening statistics and coverage from all over the world. It is one thing to read about it from the security of Oh! in the Exuma Islands, it is no doubt much more difficult to be dealing with it first hand.

The challenges faced daily by service staff of all descriptions and especially healthcare personnel must be daunting. The commitment to their professions and those they care for is amazing. It does not go unnoticed…even from the serenity of a beautiful bay, a world away from the risks these people confront every day. They are dealing with a real crisis, which puts the great coffee crisis in perspective… it was not a crisis, it was a hell of a mess. There is a very big difference.

All the very best to everyone as you navigate your own challenges in the days ahead.

Cheers, from Oh!

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