Thursday, July 19, 2012

And They're Off

Three Mile Harbor in the mist
where a provisioning crisis develops.
Really, our problem on this cruise has been too many opportunities and too much time.  What a dilemma. How can we possibly choose between Block Island, Mystic, Nantucket, Maine, Wickford and other delightful ports? Stay south of Cape Cod or transit the canal and gunkhole north? Linger down east until September or maybe October? This has us completely flummoxed and whining about not being able to decide what's next. We're worse than a kid standing in the candy aisle with a hand full of money, sobbing in frustration. 

I found myself wondering why we even do this. The ugly thought that perhaps it was time to fly home crept into my head. This listlessness of having no plan was making me totally irrational. I mean really, had we been on a one-week charter, the decisions would have come bang, bang, bang. Instead we found ourselves caught in an endless loop, circling around a decision like an old dog trying to find exactly the right spot for a leisurely nap. We must have asked each other, "Where would you like to go?" a dozen times. 

Give us today our daily jolt.
Then we realized that the coffee locker was bare. Yikes, what had I been thinking in Baltimore when I loaded only a half-dozen packages of Coffee Arabica into the cart? That I would no longer be addicted to an early morning jolt to kick my liver in gear? Plus we're short on cookies. Well, not actually out of cookies since there are plenty of Marias and a few bags of P'Farm in the locker. But we are out of an exquisite cookie that Anita really likes, Jules Destrooper Ginger Thins. In the face of these twin crises, the dither window slammed shut with a bang. 

Years ago when we first went to the Bahamas we provisioned from a list, having carefully calculated how much to buy, using this formula. Consumption Rate multiplied by Duration equals Quantity. So, X rum punches each day times Y days equals Z tins of pineapple juice. When we started loading Z in the cart it looked like an awful lot, given that we seldom drink the stuff at home. So we added another factor to the formula (C, the chicken out factor) and put back half of the cans. This gave us the chance to sample many new brands of pineapple juice throughout the Bahamas as we searched at every chance for that elusive and expensive elixir.

Riding out a cold front in  Pipe Creek, 
in the Exuma Cays with lots of pink protein aboard.
Our Bahamas lesson was that we should always stick to the formula. The next year before we headed across the Gulf Stream, we provisioned as old hands, knowing what we liked and what was available in the Out Islands. We had enjoyed a small tinned ham on that first trip so we filled a locker with the calculated number of cans. 

The first dozen hams were terrific. Then they began to be less so. With a month left on the cruise, twisting the little key to open yet another of these pink, salty, hunks of protein was an act of courage. In the face of a mutiny where the captain sided with the crew, we traded dozens of tins for paper backs, spare parts and fishing line. Invited over for a sundowner, we would bring along a thoughtful gift, tied with ribbon to make it harder to refuse. We returned to the states with only two tins in the locker, proving that the formula works, since we didn't run out. As for those last two hams, it was like tomatoes in August. No one would take them, ribbons or not.

Now in East Hampton we did have one ham in the locker -- of recent vintage since twenty years later the sight of a tinned ham invokes nostalgia rather than revulsion -- but we were envisioning how we would make do without the really important anchors to our day: a dark brew to start and sweet munchies before bed. 

Anita stows for our departure.
I've learned to include her in the decision.
An hour prior we had been lounging around, thinking we had days to get ready to depart. Instead, we charged out of Three Mile Harbor in a lather, lashed on by the ebb in the channel, the prospect of riding a favorable current in Block Island Sound, and hoping to arrive at Salt Pond on the flood. The winds were light -- aren't they always in an emergency -- so catching the current was everything.

We find a relatively deserted anchorage
in Salt Pond, Block Island, RI
We're off to Narraganset Bay, via Block Island. That will put us in the land of the big plenty, where we can fill the lockers with all the stuff we put back on the shelf just a month prior when we thought we knew how to provision. I intend to apply the provisioning formula to coffee and cookies, without chickening out. I certainly hope these items will be easier to trade away should the need arise. Who could possibly refuse a box of Jules?

After all that decision-making we learned that Ron and Jayne, friends that we met years ago in the Bahamas happen to have made a trip to New England. They have graciously offered to join us in Wickford, RI, and will arrive by car.

Here's the plan. We'll do lunch in town and then it's off to Stop N Shop for us. They, being cruisers, know the importance of coffee, cookies and candy so they'll be patient while we grab the essentials.

Wickford, RI, Town Dock.
Tendril is ready to receive our gifts.
A side effect of having finally decided to move ahead on this cruise is that we've regained our vision of what's to come. We'll head up Buzzard's Bay and see what happens. That's about as definite as our cruising plans ever get. We'll have to make the details up as we go along.

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