Weather Helmed

an adventure in renewing the spirit and living the dream…on a sailboat

Weather Helmed

Mixed Emotions (written Nov.9, en route to Australia)

November 11th, 2010 · 1 Comment · Introspection, Life Lessons, Life on the Boat, Our Route, Passages, Random Thoughts, The End

When we started this passage, I never thought I would spend almost its entirety curled up in the recesses of the quarterberth or laying on the settee, trying to keep my stomach happy and contained.  It’s strange to me that I’ve sailed almost halfway around the world and yet get the worst seasickness on our last passage.  I wore my trusty, tried and true scopolamine patch for the first 2 days, having put it on the evening before we left, but it was not as effective as it has been in the past and eventually the blurred vision just made things worse.  I ditched the patch and a few hours later found myself leaning over the lifelines staring, teary-eyed and empty, into the frothy blue.  Note to self: never eat kiwi fruit on an upset stomach.  The only other time I’ve gotten sick while sailing was the first time we took the boat out into open ocean, with 25 knot winds and 12 foot seas.  Since then, I’ve felt less than awesome at times, but this passage took its toll.

But, this passage, overall, was about as spectacular as we could have asked for! After all that weather waffling in Noumea, we were one of the first boats to go for it, and I think we had the best conditions out of all the boats that left in this weather window. We motor-sailed for the first day, but then picked up some wind and averaged no less than 6.3 knots for the majority of the trip, spending a fair amount of time averaging in the 7’s.  We had a few spits of rain in the beginning, but that was the worst we experienced.  We were wing on wing for a good deal of the time and it was actually really comfortable sailing.  Despite that, of course, I tried to sleep as much as humanly possible because it was the one thing I could do that made me feel better.
Today, I felt a bit more normal and went out into the cockpit where I caught the tail end of the sunset.  Though the sun was hidden in clouds, the sky was lit up in brilliant shades of pink, and the sky was so BIG, that it hit me suddenly that this would be one of the last sunsets I would experience at sea.  I looked out over the waves, thinking how I have come to take them, too, for granted; now they are just a part of daily life.  Yet, in a day or two, they would become a thing of the past as we docked in Brisbane and started the transition back to our stateside, landlocked life.

For an instant, I felt SAD, nostalgic even, for what we’ve had on this trip.  Although I don’t want to continue sailing, I reflect happily on the better parts of the trip – the glassy seas, the incredible sunsets, sunrises and moonrises, the astonishingly clear water…   Just for an instant, though – until my heart races automatically as I recall just the night before when I woke up, panicked, at the thought of Matt falling overboard.  The list of things I WON’T miss about sailing is still significantly longer than those special few things I will.

When we moved from our Emeryville apartment onto the boat, I had similar feelings of nostalgia.  I hated living in the bay area, hated the commuting, the traffic, the big city-ness.  But when we were on the brink of leaving it all behind, I felt sad – it was the end of an era.  The bay area was where I had met Matt, where we had spent so much of our relationship; Emeryville was our first real home together, he had proposed to me in that apartment, we had planned our lives there.  There was so much history in that little bitty studio.

Arriving in Brisbane, too, feels like the end of an era.  The boat trip has dominated Matt’s life since before I met him, and it has dominated my life for the last several years.  So many decisions we’ve made, practically since we began dating, were based around this trip. And now – it’s over.  I look back through my journals and blogs and think about all our memories – the good and not so good – from the last year and can’t believe that it is all in the past.  In this strange cruising life of eternal summer, I’m eager to return to a world of seasons because they help signal change and the passing of time.  Enough of this tropical nonsense where one day feels exactly the same as the day before! My sense of time is all off, it feels like just a few weeks ago that we made landfall at Nuku Hiva!

But, just as I romanticized our bay area life when it was ending, I find it easy to romanticize this “cruising” life as we say goodbye to it – which is ridiculous considering how miserable I’ve been at times!!  We have experienced and seen some amazing places, met some great people and done some cool stuff, but, as this passage has oh so kindly reminded me, I am not cut out to live like this full-time.

I am insanely proud of Matt for pulling this whole thing off – for having a dream, planning, researching, and saving to make it happen, working like a madman to get the boat ready, and having the confidence and courage to throw off the docklines with only a worrying, unskilled first mate like me as permanent crew.  People have said that we are an inspiration to them to follow their dreams, but I should point out that Matt is truly the inspiration for that, I can only hope to simply inspire others to find a brilliant, ambitious, determined spouse 🙂

As I sit out in the cockpit under the night sky, pondering this past year, I hear the oh-so-friendly, poofing sound of dolphin breath.  As if they’ve heard my jumbled thoughts, a small group of dolphins comes leaping towards the boat, their torpedo bodies barely visible as they streak glittering bioluminescence across our bow.  It is a farewell of sorts, I think, just for me. THIS is definitely something I won’t get back home.

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One Comment so far ↓

  • Sandy

    I am so glad Matthew had you with him on this expedition! You make a great team. You and Matt are leaving this year long sailing journey, only to begin the most significant and richest journey of your life-parenthood!

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