“Did you look behind the settee?” I ask.
“What about under the V-Berth?”
“In the bilge by the back water tank?”
“I wouldn’t have put it there,” Ryan says flatly.
“But did you look? Because at this point it could be anywhere.”
“I looked. It’s not there.”
“Wait! What about in the space above the fuel tank? Have you removed the panel covering the fuel tank?”
“You know, funny you should ask. As I was tearing apart the back room yesterday, I stared at that panel and thought, if I were going to hide drugs on this boat, I would totally hide them there – no one would think to look there.”
“So, did you look?”
“No. Because that’s crazy. I wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of removing everything in this room to get to that wall panel, unscrew the whole thing and take it off just to hide the chart plotter.”
“How do you know? Go back and remove that wall panel! If anything, you might find some drugs…”
“Trust me. It’s not in there. But I’ll look when I get back to the boat tomorrow. Let’s just think this through. Where did we leave from when we flew out of the Dominican Republic last year…?”
There are some things so important to your everyday life on a boat that you’d assume you would never forget where you put, say, your $2,000 Garmin chart plotter for safe-keeping when you packed up the boat for the season.
But it seems Ryan and I have found ourselves in the impossible situation of trying to solve a $2,000 puzzle by piecing together our memories from 16 months ago. It’s like playing a game where someone throws out one-word clues and we have to form a picture of what they’re thinking and guess the answer. Except the person giving the clues has Alzheimer’s. And the novelty of playing the game wore off after two hours, though we’ve been playing this game for about two weeks now.
If only I had the wherewithal 16 months ago to write a blog post entitled, Where I Hid My Chart Plotter and Other Mundane Secrets of Turf to Surf. But I didn’t. And so I’m stuck playing the WORST GAME EVER – a game which no one knows the rules for or the answers to — but I keep playing because the prize is not having to spend $2,000 to replace a chart plotter that is most definitely somewhere.
So let’s take a moment here and review what we know or, rather, what we can remember from 16 months ago…
What’s that, you say? You don’t want to play this game? Well, too bad…we’re all playing this game here. It’s all the rage in Marina Tropical in Luperon. Ryan and I are playing it, the other cruisers are playing it, even my parents are totally into it – I get a text message from my dad every few hours saying things like:
“The front of your guitar case.”
“The trunk of your car.”
“You gave it to the marina for safe keeping?”
“In your fridge.”
“The litter box.”
“Could it have been in that package you mailed us from Bali?”
Before long, I predict you’ll be playing it, too. So, listen, if you get any inspired ideas, you should definitely message me on Facebook or tweet your ideas at @turftosurf because, well, I’ll take any help I can get at this stage.
But back to what I remember…
April 2013 – Hideaway sails into Luperon, we plan to stay a few weeks, have some fun, provision, then sail on to Puerto Rico. We prep the boat, fill the water and fuel tanks and make plans to head for the Mona Passage as soon as the weather permits.
In the meantime, we go to Cabarete, take up kiteboarding, fall in love with the D.R. and promptly change our plans. We decide to get off the boat, rent a house in Cabarete and hang out a while longer, scrapping all plans to sail onward and replacing them with sun, surf and dry land.
May 2013 – Since Hideaway is going to stay in Luperon until we finish the Clipper Race and our travels through Southeast Asia, we pack her up, take down the sails, pull her out of the water and take all our valuables off the boat for safe-keeping, including the Garmin chart plotter. We take the cats and all our important possessions with us to Cabarete and ease into a lifestyle of working online by day while taking breaks to do water sports, Cross-Fit and hang out on the beach.
Here is where our memories diverge…
I remember Ryan and I deciding that the Garmin chart plotter was the only major steal-able and valuable item on the boat and, since it’s fairly small, we would do well to bring it to the States with us and keep it locked up in our house in upstate New York while we’re off racing halfway around the world in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. Especially since we’d need to come back to the U.S. before returning to our boat in the D.R. anyhow.
Ryan remembers that we took the chart plotter with us to Cabarete, but he thinks we brought it back to the boat when we packed up Hideaway because, in his mind, it only makes sense to keep the chart plotter with the boat, even if it is a valuable item. He remembers thinking about where to hide the chart plotter on the boat so that it wouldn’t be easily found or stolen. Unfortunately, he doesn’t remember where he thought about hiding it.
I am standing in the boiler room of our log cabin in upstate New York with boxes, bags and suitcases open and strewn along the floor while talking through what I’m looking at over the phone with Ryan, who is in the Dominican Republic. I’m supposed to be in New York City doing work, but I’ve taken a detour to look for the mysteriously missing chart plotter.
“Did you look in all the suitcases?” Ryan asks.
“Every single last one. Why do we have so many suitcases?”
“Yep. I went through every drawer and opened all the boxes.”
“On the shelves?”
“Yes. I’m telling you, it is not here. It’s not in the safe…why didn’t we just put the damned thing in the safe, anyway? It’s not in the storage closet – I took out every box and bag in there. And now I’ve gone through every single shelf and container in this boiler room and it is absolutely not in this house. Unless we buried it in the yard.”
“I don’t think you looked hard enough.”
“You don’t think I…YOU LITTLE…”
The sound of Ryan’s sniggering reverberates through the phone until he breaks into hysterical laughter.
“This isn’t funny! What the hell did we do with it if it’s not in the house, it’s not on the boat and it’s not at my parents’?! WHY WOULD WE HIDE SOMETHING SO IMPORTANT?!”
“I think it’s in the house,” Ryan says.
“IT’S NOT IN THE HOUSE! It has to be on the boat. Go back and open up that damned panel on the fuel tank. I won’t be able to sleep until we look.”
It seems truly unbelievable that we have hidden our chart plotter so well that even we can’t find it. And it also seems crazy that neither Ryan nor I have a clear memory of what we did with something so crucial to our sailing life.
But then again, when I think back to July 2013 — 16 months and an eternity of experiences ago — I know my head wasn’t focused much on the boat we were leaving. My head was a swirl of anxiety and worries about the boats we were about to get on for the Clipper Race.
I’d watched enough YouTube clips of the ’11-’12 race across the Southern Ocean to know that I was probably in over my head, and that I had no experiences to date that would give me any insight into how brutal, cold and exhausting ocean racing would be. I was stepping into the unknown and stepping towards my fears, and so every thought in my brain was saturated with worries about whether or not I’d prepared myself well enough mentally and physically for what I was about to do.
Whatever memory I had of what I did with that damned chart plotter back in July of 2013 I’m sure was quickly swallowed by thoughts of how many thermals I should pack, how to keep my boots dry and what if this turned out to be the experience that breaks me.
Where will we put our Garmin chart plotter? That was probably not even a speck on the mole of the swollen ass of anxieties I was trying to soothe in the days running up to our departure for the UK, where we would take on the last weeks of Clipper Race training and sail out of London for the race across the Atlantic.
And now, here we are, 24 hours away from finally sailing out of the Dominican Republic — as we intended to do 18 months ago, before I fell head-over-heels in love with Cabarete — and we’re heading into one of the hairiest passages one can find in the Caribbean. Without a chart plotter.
I wish I could be clever and come up with a way to turn this into a metaphor for life with something like, “A blind man moves forward with confidence, not because he isn’t afraid, but because he has no choice…”, but the truth is I’m completely distracted from metaphor by the unsolvable riddle formed by my failed memory: It’s not in the fishing tackle bag, the bilge, the hanging locker, the V-berth, the nav station, the tool storage, under the cushions, inside the BBQ… Augh! Where the hell is it?!
In other news…
Just in case you missed it, Turf to Surf recently featured in an interview on the Sail Loot Podcast, in which Tasha chats at length with Teddy J about working while traveling, starting a business, sailing, the Clipper Race and her life before and after cruising on a Catalina 34. Fix yourself a nice cup of tea, whiskey on the rocks, or whatever it is you fancy, and settle in here for the full, unabridged story: http://www.sailloot.com/sail-loot-podcast-004-tasha-hacker-teaching-english-for-some-sailing-money/
And if you just can’t wait for the next blog post to find out where Tasha & Ryan are and what shenanigans they’re up to now, you can follow along in real time on the Turf to Surf Facebook Page, Twitter and Instagram.