It’s just about that time. I knew I couldn’t stay away for much longer.
“It isn’t that life ashore is distasteful to me. But life at sea is better.” – Sir Francis Drake
In December I flew down to St. Kitts; it was a quick two-day trip, but I needed to check on Saoirse and bring a few things home. I abandoned the boat there in a hurry in June 2013, anticipating being gone for four to six months at most but by December it had been 28 months. Food was spoiling, hatches needed to be secured better, and I needed to do some stronger mold prevention.
A few months later in March I crewed a catamaran from St. Croix to Haiti and back to Puerto Rico via the Dominican Republic, part of some volunteer work for a non-profit. I felt at home during the midnight watch, charging into the blackness with no clue what was in front of me. This shortly followed a little personal crisis I was going through two months earlier, when I only had one thing on my mind 24/7…
What am I going to do about the boat? Try to sail it back to Texas and have it shipped to California? Leave it in storage on St. Kitts? Sell it? If so, would I be able to do that in St. Kitts or should I sail it to the USVI, and how much would storage there cost? Wait, why on earth am I even considering selling it? Shame on me. I can’t keep it in the boatyard collecting mold.
I had a lot of sleepless night unable to turn off my brain. Putting the final work into publishing Sailing Saoirse was adding to this crisis, being constantly reminded of the memories I’ve had and the adventures I haven’t had yet.
I had just quit flying helicopter tours around Lake Tahoe due to some disagreements with the owner of the company, unsure what I was going to do next. Mom had been repeatedly declared cancer-free, which is why I left the boat in the first place.
Then it hit me.
Why aren’t I doing what so many other people do? Why can’t it just be my part-time mobile home in the Caribbean? What’s stopping me from going down there for 3-4 months at a time every year? Nothing.
“Once you figure out how to make enough, then go do the things that make you happy. There’s always a way to make money. There’s always a way to live.”
That January, one month after returning from St. Kitts, I was sitting in a doctor’s exam room by myself, reflecting on everything while I waited for the doctor. You know, the doctor will be right with you. Translates into make yourself comfortable, I hope you brought a snack! It was a rough previous few days. That boat represents a dream I’ve had for twenty years, and is literally covered in my blood, sweat, and tears.
Do you believe in signs? I don’t like to think that I do, but here’s what happened next.
The only magazine in this exam room was an issue of Yachting from the summer of 2013, the same time I abandoned Saoirse. This magazine usually only has an editor’s letter, a couple of feature articles, and the rest is ad space.
The first page I turned to was the editor’s letter, in which she reflects on missing her own previous boat and searching for another. The editor, Mary South, states her feelings much more eloquently than I ever could so I’ll paraphrase here:
“…for the last six months or so, I’ve been feeling…blah…just entirely lacking my usual joie de vivre. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. Why wasn’t I enjoying life’s everyday pleasures more?…. You know what was wrong with me? I hadn’t been at the helm in a year. I hadn’t thrown out the hook and watched the sunset from the stern. I hadn’t gone for a swim off the side… I hadn’t known the immense joy and excitement of watching the coast fade away… I felt like a total knucklehead. All this agita and soul-searching and I had overlooked the obvious: I can’t swallow the anchor! I need to get back out there and feel all the soul-restoring benefits that the sea brings… I was a farmer without a patch of grass, a bird without a sky, a song without a voice. All I ever needed was a damn boat. I’m back.”
Coincidence that those words were the only ones available for me to read in this office during the peak of my dilemma?
So now I’m staring at the project lists I made before I left the boat, skimming chandlery websites for parts, and researching which islands I might want to go to on my next visit. The thought of it makes me happy.
“To desire nothing beyond what you have is surely happiness. Aboard a boat, it is frequently possible to achieve just that. That is why sailing is a way of life, one of the finest of lives.” – Carleton Mitchell
As of now, my plan is to sail down to Grenada and spend some time there, then the Grenadines, St. Vincent, & St. Lucia. And then…?
I’ll be making a more organized effort to bring you some good info! More thought-out details on boat projects, better info for cruising destinations, and continuing with my recent theme of hiking trails, some good information and photos on those activities as well. Oh yeah and the diving. So much to do!
I leave for St. Kitts on October 20th.