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Attitude is the difference between an adventure and an ordeal, according to Bob Bitchin, vagabond sailor, Harley dude, and publisher of the sailing magazine, this very sailing magazine, Latitudes & Attitudes.

My husband, Captain Vince (I have to say captain because I’m talking about boats and sailing),

is on the side of adventure, and I (first mate) am, well… Let me tell you the tale of our first leg on our cruise to Maine from Old Saybrook, Connecticut. “It’s beautiful, honest, Darlis.

Honey, you’ll love it,” promised my husband, sailor extraordinaire. “An astronomical starlit sky, seas as smooth as glass,

the vastness of the ocean, the peacefulness of it all.” Alright, I’ve been sailing for over 25 years.

I’m a good first mate and a great galley slave—but the idea of an overnight sail 30 miles out to sea was not my idea of 24 hours well spent.

I decided to go because we would be with a group of cruisers who had sailed the ocean route to Maine many times.

Our crew would be our 28-year-old son and 29-year-old nephew, both strong and young and excellent sailors.

Another benefit of this trip would be to prove to myself, and my husband, that I could and would overcome any silly (but real) fears that I may be (or am) harboring.

A weather report of a possibility of a storm brewing had us shoving off at 6 a.m. from Onset, New York, at the mouth of the Cape Cod Canal.

Leaving this early, all our cruise mates agreed, would have us beating the storm to Maine.

No problem. “It was an admirable decision, Darlis,” I boldly said to myself, my stomach quivering and body shivering from both the cold misty morning air and the trepidation that continued to lurk inside me.

The day passed beautifully. We had contact with our fellow cruisers, both visually and via check-ins on the radio every couple of hours. All of this helped diminish any feelings of abandonment we may have had.

The canal was smooth, and we were all well fed and comfy.

This wasn’t bad at all! The captain and I decided to take a nap from 10 p.m. to midnight; then, we would be refreshed to relieve the crew and take over our 2-hour watch.

Before falling asleep, I watched as the moon peeked in and out of the porthole while the boat rolled with the rhythm of the sea.

I was awakened by the thump, thump, clunking sound of our son running through the cabin.

 “It’s ok, Mom. It’s just getting a little cold,” he said as he pulled on the bright yellow foul-weather gear and boots. I asked about flashes of light around us.

“Heat lightning,” he said. “No problem.” No worries, I thought and laid down for a peaceful nap until watch time.

We relieved Ed and David, fatigued and chilled, and they dashed to their bunks, not stopping even a second for the traditional grog and bread.

Hmm. As soon as we were topside, we were engulfed in the blackest of nothingness. No stars. Not a flicker of light from any boat. No chatter on the radio.

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