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anticipation – Chasing The Ana

Posted Jul 24 2007 12:00am

Palms & Ocean

the captain surfaces for air amongst the torrent nightmare
latching to a piece of the hull, destructions everywhere
no more survivors from the blast, the ship drifts beneath the waves
the master coasts for hours, before the storm begins to wane
an albatross flies overhead, a sign that land is near
an island spotted in the distance, maybe the torment is at an end
- lord of the storm

So we’re just a few days out from the beginning of the “Chasing The Ana” expedition to Puerto Rico. Lots going on in these, “last days”. You know, you plan heavily for your trip way in advance and then as you get closer all that planning (at least in my case) began to feel futile as the date crept up. (something my more experienced friends told me would happen). Of course in our case we are not heading too far from civilization for any length of time. So of course you pack some provisions, but it’s not the same as going to Iceland. In fact for the most part you are prepping like you would for any day trip on the ocean. Keeping safety and comfort in mind. You gather charts and maps and look maybe a day or two ahead with just a general outlook for the complete trip. You see the docs. Prepare your meds & personal needs. You choose your clothing and gear. You shop. You talk to others about places to see and places to avoid. You chase down expertise. If it’s there. You think way too much about batteries and chargers.The big difference between a personal trip near home and this one is logistics and team building. We have to know where we are all going to be and when occasionally. I ended up renting a van for 3 days just to be sure I could shuttle gear until the launch. Then you want to meet with everyone else’s goals and expectations as much as you can. You set aside social time, training time and yes, private personal time as well. You end up divulging to your team stuff about your life that maybe you’d be happier not sharing. But at the same time, they need to know how you tick. No secrets, no interpersonal games. It’s just out of the question.

Then you wake up one morning and think; MY GOD, that’s a lot of ocean out there!! And a month is really quite a long time!! On a calendar it does not seem like a lot, but when you get close and start working your life around it. . you realize that it’s a long time. I can suddenly grasp what 3 month or 6 month trips must feel like. Something that never seemed so big before, now seems pretty impressive. LOL!

Of course there’s the bit where people can tend to perceive that a tropical island trip is just a well, “vacation”. Something you can just “phone in”. Well, It’s not. When I first looked at the 2 foot tidal variance I was sort of thinking, “yeah whatever”. Of course that was naive. In fact there are areas of strong currents, big surf, nasty, crusty, rocky beaches, heavy traffic, quickly changing weather, bugs, wild life and many other things that have to be respected. And all this under the incessant heat of the tropics and the laser fire of a tropical sun. I keep thinking of those movies where the guys spend weeks floating at sea in a life boat waiting to be rescued. Blurry vision, peeling skin and parched lips come to mind. I had a friend ask me what kind of chap stick I liked and suddenly thought, “you know, that’s not a bad question!”.

As time draws near I feel a bit stressed, a bit tired, and just maybe a bit scared. Well, respectful anyway. Chasing the Ana will be fun yeah, but it’s also going to be a challenge. A challenge that is just now starting to seem real.

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