Friday, October 24, 2014

Out of Touch

I just got back from 10 days of sailing in the British Virgin Islands, attending the 33rd Annual Interline Regatta. It's my third year at the regatta, and was a blast as usual. It had an interesting beginning in that I and several teammates just barely beat Hurricane Gonzalo to the islands, flying to St Thomas on Oct 13th on one of the last flights and then catching the second-to-last ferry between St Thomas and Tortola. We rode out the storm on our charter boats in The Moorings' well-protected base in Road Town, and there it was actually a non-event with a bit of wind and very little rain. It turns out that although the hurricane rapidly intensified to Category II+ on Monday night, it also veered about 60 miles north of its predicted track, and so the BVI were spared though islands further east suffered damage. In St Martin, 37 boats were destroyed at anchor and one mariner aboard was killed.

The last rain bands passed by Tuesday afternoon, and after that it was beautiful weather for the remainder of the regatta, though unusual northwesterly winds prevailed in the storm's wake and faded to light air for the first few days of racing before the southeasterly trades resumed. Our group had three charter boats this year, and I alternated skippering a 41' Beneteau and our 50' Beneteau race boat. This is the third yacht charter I've skippered this year, my sixth sailing excursion since last September totaling some 43 days spent afloat. I'm getting more comfortable with big-boat handling as I gain experience, and have been able to get some of my closest friends and family members hooked on it too. For me, the real attraction of the Interline Regatta is not just the beautiful tropical surroundings or excellent sailing, it is the chance to spend ten days enjoying the company of some of my favorite people in the world, free of the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

It was time exceptionally free of outside distractions this year as my phone steadfastedly refused to connect to BVI voice and data networks, and most wifi connections proved similarly unusable. I'm not sure if it was post-hurricane network snafus or a problem with my phone. I've never had those issues in the BVI before. It didn't bother me much, except that Dawn stayed home this year and our only contact was nightly text messages and one phone call when within range of USVI cell towers on St John. I was also out of contact with Flying's editorial office during a critical stage of the publishing process, which resulted in my December column going to the printer before I had a chance to offer input on proposed changes. My editors will attest that I'm an obsessive perfectionist where the column is concerned - much more than I ever have been with the blog - and so while nobody will ever notice the difference but me, it was a bit frustrating. Lastly, the Yellow Cub Club's president was unsuccessfully trying to get ahold of me. I'll write more about this soon, but we recently sold Cub N77532 as it needed a restoration and few club members were willing to be without a plane to fly for a year or more. We bought a nice 1940 J-3C that was restored in the late 90s with the proceeds, but the club needed someone to fly it back from CVG. I had volunteered, but October proved to be a very bad month considering nearly all my off time was devoted to the regatta. Oh well; another club member is bringing it back in the next few days.

Since coming back from my ten days spent out of touch in the BVI, I've been unusually aware of how many people I see with their faces stuck to their smartphones, oblivious to the people around them. It's the world we live in and it's completely useless to go off on a screed about it. But maybe, just maybe, I'll make the extra effort to leave the phone in my pocket the next few weeks and engage with the real live persons around me. The electronic contacts will be there when I get back to them. But you never know when a potential life-long friend is sitting three feet away from you, just waiting to connect over a shared passion for sailing, motorcycles, travel, or flying.


Anonymous said...

you are a really talented writer and I've enjoyed your blog for many years now. I have noticed that lately, you haven't been typing much about being an airline pilot; your last commercial aviation post was over two months ago, for example. I mean absolutely no disrespect in asking this, but is it safe to say you will no longer be posting about being a professional/commercial pilot? I do enjoy all of your posts but I must admit I started reading this because I aspire to be an airline pilot as well and I find those posts to be the most interesting, so I was just curious.

Sam Weigel said...

Anon-- I'm on probation until 400 hrs with my new airline. I'm currently at 310 hrs. I'll likely feel more comfortable with airline-related posting after that. The other thing is I'm still kinda forming my impressions of the Mad Dog as I gain experience. She is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, to borrow from Churchill.

Anonymous said...

Great post! Love the photos, your adventures are always entertaining to read Sam.
~Matt from KDSM.