4:30 am. I hear the familiar roll of the companionway being opened. I crack my eyes. At this early hour, I sense more than see the breaking of dawn, a slight change in tonality as dark begins the slow transition to light. Greg is up. “I slept some last night.” This is good news as sleep has been hard to come by lately. He has opened the hatch on his way up to the cockpit, cup of hot tea in hand to watch the day begin. I quickly make coffee and join. We say little as the sky gradually metamorphosis from the deep purple of dawn to the watercolor patina of sunrise, accelerating in its change as the sun’s rays lick the horizon. We are the only ones up at this hour, even the birds are quiet. Flanked by two sailboats and a mid-size trawler, our neighbors are surely tucked quietly away, slumbering as their boats slowly swing in the lake-like calm. The moon is a small but bright picture-perfect sliver of a crescent hanging above the tree tops as if pinned; bright stars and planets dot the still dark sky directly above.
5:30 am. The quiet is punctuated by the drawl of a far-off engine as the day’s first commercial flight cuts across the tangerine sky, keeping time with the slow but steady beat of a Blue Heron heading south. Backlit by the approaching sun, they seem an incongruous pair. We should be in the air too; our return flight to Lagos boards in 90 minutes. We will not be on it.
6:30 am. The strident call of an eagle fills our small bay. The birds are wary; they quiet momentarily then continue their chatter. The trees, a monochromatic backdrop at dawn and first light, begin to slowly materialize as individuals in the sun’s strengthening rays. Tall sturdy pines are mixed with oak, madrone and Douglas fir. Some say you can’t see the wind, but out here, the wind is evident all around- in the trees and on the water, in our sails and the movement of our boat, S/V Journey. Slowly working up from the waterline to the tree tops above, the wind is light but noticeable. Dancing across the surface which dimples in response, our swing becomes more pronounced.
6:49 am. The loud clacking of metal on metal fills the air; a large sailboat anchored at the mouth of the bay begins to raise anchor, readying to leave. A popular stopover with locals and visitors alike, we expected company when we chose this anchorage.
When we arrived yesterday afternoon, a mid-sized sailboat was already in residence. Surrounded by large inflatable animal ‘floaties’ and housing a good-sized fleet with four or five teenagers there is splashing and laughing through until dinner. The adjacent power boat is temporarily joined by a larger craft; they raft together, sharing a group meal before eventually uncoupling to overnight solo. We eat a quiet dinner on the back deck before going below for a movie (Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan) and tea. The truth is, we are waiting for the cover of dark. One of the improvements Greg has made is routing fresh hot water to a spigot on the back deck. If you are a boater, you know the direction this is going. Yes, we do have a dedicated shower stall adjacent the master head -and a wet head forward- but it’s filled with oars and crab pots and dirty laundry. Besides, it’s much more fun to shower naked outside because somehow it feels like we’re getting away with something. Greg runs the engine for a few minutes to ensure a comfortable temperature and by 10:30 it’s more or less dark enough to proceed. Mindful that our supply is not unlimited, the cold breeze and the neighboring anchor light illuminating our deck, we make it quick. Clean and refreshed, and with our diesel-powered heater blasting, we head to bed.
7:00 am. Anchor up and engine on, the large sailboat is off, avoiding the well-marked rock just outside our anchorage. Once clear, sails are quickly thrown up to make the most of the near constant wind that comes in from the South which will take them back out across the bay towards town and the responsibilities that come with living life on land. We will head back too, but not until tomorrow morning and only briefly to pick up a friend for a few days of instruction to bolster our growing sailing knowledge before dropping him back on land once more. And then, we will head out again to another bay and another anchorage, but this time for a four or five week stretch. We will sail and explore and where I can, I will dingy or kayak to shore for a morning or afternoon run. We will eat dinner on the back deck and sneak a moonlit shower, and if we’re up early enough, we will quietly watch the sun rise and listen to the birds and to the wind, and we will remember to be grateful that we are not on an airplane going back. Instead, we are home.