Escape from the Ordinary Prologue
Somewhere off the coast of France, I woke up drenched in frigid seawater from a monster wave breaking over the bow of the boat. Recovering from the cold shock I looked around and saw that while I slept, Glen had furled the foresail into the size of a hand towel. The weather was worsening.
The sky was ominously dark, and BB pellets of freezing rain peppered my foul-weather gear before swirling their way down the cockpit scupper drain. Our electronic autopilot was pulling heavy duty; at times it whirred and slipped, thumping the boat into the next wave instead of riding up and over. Glen sat clipped in at the helm, ready to steer manually if needed. We were sailing as close to the wind as the laws of physics allowed, and it required supreme concentration to keep us so near to the edge. If the powerful waves completely overwhelmed our rudder the boat could round up into the wind and stop dead in the water. In the jaws of a Force 10 storm, dead in the water could be taken literally. I was scared. We were scared.
Unhooking my safety tether from a bolt, I slid toward Glen. He had been at the helm 30 minutes beyond our self-imposed watch schedules. I thought he had lost track of time, then remembered it was Christmas morning. His overtime was a sort of last-minute holiday present to me. Fighting against the wind, I pulled myself up to the helm and held Glen—rather, I held onto him. The storm pelted us both and I laid my head on his shoulder.
“Happy Christmas!” I said into his ear.
Glen turned and brushed his beard against my face. Did I imagine it or were his eyes moist? In full understanding we clung there together. I kissed him lightly and tried some humor. “This is an extreme way to get out of Christmas shopping. If we end up in a life raft eating each other’s limbs, I will never forgive you for the worst Christmas ever.” Glen gave me a weary smile, but we both knew that if our sailboat foundered, we would never find the life raft. Even if by some unlikely chance it should happen to float right in front of us, we would be devoured by the massive, pounding waves before we could inflate the tiny survival craft.
The dream we worked so hard for was becoming a nightmare. Self-doubt froze me more than the frigid water battering the boat. Could we really make it all the way around the world? How many more mistakes like this could we handle?