Our boat was loaded down with golf clubs, hostess gifts, costumes for a Saturday night party, bedding, clothing, and cheese and crackers. The dog was at the sitter’s and the sun was high in the sky. Our plan was to stop first at the gas dock in Avondale before starting our journey north along the Rhode Island coast, through Buzzards Bay to Marion, MA. We wanted to  arrive in time for dinner.

When John went to start the engines, however, it became clear there was a problem. Everyone knows that heart-sinking feeling: plans are laid and the forecast is perfect, but technical difficulties arise. “Ugh,” I moaned.

I took a deep breath, preparing myself for the likelihood we’d be transferring everything from the boat into our car and making the trip by land. Not as fun, not nearly as fun. Fortunately, Mike from Frank Hall’s boatyard met us at the gas dock and walked us through the cause of the problem (one of our batteries was failing) and helped us decide whether or not it was safe to make the trip.

It’s been said that the most dangerous thing to have on a boat is a schedule. One must be willing to surrender to the inevitability of things breaking down, and weather and sea conditions stirring up. Time on a boat is meant to be at a different pace than on land and serves to remind us that we are never in control even though we pretend to be.

This time, we decided to carry on, assured the running engine would do its part to replenish the charge of one of our batteries. We’d make it to Marion, Cuttyhunk, Hadley Harbor, Falmouth, and Edgartown before returning to Watch Hill four days later. And don’t you know every time those engines turned over and purred, I said a prayer of gratitude.

In addition to some anxiety over the battery, we’d also heard a lot about how tricky the channel through Woods Hole can be, with ferries and currents and lots of boat traffic. However, by the time the weekend was over we had made a huge deposit in the bank of experience and navigated it three times.

There is something very satisfying about being tested on the water and rising to the occasion, taking the opportunity to strengthen the resiliency muscle. Yes, our destinations were beautiful and so were our friends and the weather, but this particular trip felt more like an opportunity to learn and gain confidence. It was our first time through Buzzards Bay and our proximity to the Cape Cod Canal sparked my interest in cruising even further north. I love to push our boundaries…. stay tuned.