Deep breath. You can do this, Heidi. You can focus and get back into that groove, that happy place, where words come easily and you pull stories and recipes and musings about living aboard out of your brain and heart and soul (and yes, sometimes it seems, out of your ass!) and they flow into your lightning-fast typing fingers onto the page. You’ve faced far worse challenges where you felt like you were drowning and always burst through the waves for that big gulp of fresh air and a fin-flip to take you in a new direction. So why not NOW?
For two solid years I posted at least once a week on this Blog. If I knew I’d be busy, I’d write the posts and schedule them to go live so I wouldn’t miss a week. Not a single week for two years … over 100 posts and now at nearly 200. I had a nice following of people from around the world that read my writing and the feedback was always positive from friends and family. I would joke to my husband that I was an “International Blogger” and I had to keep up my Blog so as not to disappoint my “Fans.”
I wrote daily and scheduled time to write. I went on writing retreats, met with our writing group at local coffee shops, and found inspiration all around me. I submitted my work in competitions and read it aloud in front of live audiences. After not believing that I was good enough for decades, I proudly proclaimed myself a “WRITER.”
Then COVID-19 swept across the globe. Life turned upside down. Our plans to go cruising were put on hold. Again. I became the caregiver and Head Schoolmistress for my beloved grandchildren. I had to cease swimming at the gym and working out with my personal trainer. Grocery shopping was more for survival than for enjoyment so meals became boring. We watched the terrifying news of the infections and deaths as they rose and panic and fear were the prevailing emotions. Add the election, with so much hatred from the Trumpers, and there seemed to be very little light in the world.
In the past decade-plus of living on board I have learned to cook, at first by necessity and later because I enjoyed it. When the Captain and I moved aboard Cool Change (Aaron’s dad’s Freedom 32) in 2009 we ate simply. Mainly because neither of us knew how to cook very well and the space was also challenging. The galley is pretty teensy with only two burners, an oven about the size of a toaster-oven, and an ice-cooled refrigerator. Since it was summertime, we barbecued/grilled chicken, beef, fish and veggies the majority of evenings.
Growing up, my mother did all the cooking for the family and never invited my sister and I to participate. (And the rare time we did, the majority of the meals were from cans and boxes.) In my previous marriage to Brett he did all the cooking. I worked 60 hours a week and came home after long days and late meetings to a warm meal nightly. I rarely ventured into the kitchen and when I did it was mostly reheating. He enjoyed cooking so it wasn’t an issue and we hosted many dinner parties for family and friends with him in the kitchen and me doing the event coordinating. It wasn’t that I didn’t like cooking; it was more that I never really had the encouragement, motivation or opportunity until I was in my forties.
2020 flat out sucked. The pandemic changed everything. We went from anticipating our life on the open ocean and exploring foreign ports to basically locking down at the marina. Our busy social life and wide circle of friends closed to just family and dock neighbors.
Eleven people that had some form of effect on my life died. Of those, three were my husband’s family members (Uncle Bob, Uncle Bill, and his mother, Donna Perry), one was a dear childhood friend’s mother (Margaret Sloane), one was a much-loved sailor (Jim Hild), one was a special writing group friend (Catherine Phillips), and five were influential in my careers (Cliff Benson, Julian Polvorosa, Charlie Gilcrest, Dr. Marshall Mitzmann, and Tom Guarino). I have never experienced so much loss in one year.
I started this blog on April 16, 2018 … one year to the day we planned to cut the docklines and begin cruising the world on our floating home. This was already a delay from our original dream of retiring early and leaving in 2015. Life happened and we changed the departure to 2019. Family circumstances and necessary medical procedures for the Captain and First Mate didn’t allow us to leave the country then either. So being conservative, we readjusted to leave in the fall of 2020 and winter in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.
This would give us the summer to put a bit more money aside, finish final boat projects and make sure our family was healthy, happy and settled. In Spring 2021 we’d decide what our next course would be and go from there.
Then COVID-19 rocked the world. Back in March, we all believed that we’d be through this and back to life as usual in a few months; six at tops. We’d wait until December or January and then head south.
Today is a significant date. First and foremost, it is my husband’s birthday. Aaron, the Captain of our boat and my heart, was born in 1964 and is 56 today. He unselfishly gives of his time and talent, and most of all, Love, to his friends and family. He is completely devoted to our three Grands and drops everything to care for them. He coaches Little League, builds props for my daughter’s photography business, mans the barbecue and is known as the “Tickle Monster” by the GrandBoys. He’s a great role model for Cody and Matthew, and Ellie is definitely a “Papy’s Girl.” This from a guy who never had children of his own and became a step-father when my kids were teens! We are blessed to have him in our lives.
When we purchased our 42 ft 1979 Tayana Vancouver sailboat in 2009 we had hoped to take a sabbatical from our jobs in 2015 to do some cruising. We chose to name our boat Sonho, as it means “Dream” in Portuguese and adopted the motto, “Vivo O Sonho” … Living the Dream.
But Life Happened: lay-offs and, most importantly, my care for my beloved Nana kept us tied to the dock. There was no way I’d leave her; we just didn’t expect her to live as long as she fortunately did. After Nana passed in the fall of 2017 just shy of her 99th birthday, my sister and I made the decision to sell her home that we had inherited. Aaron and I would use our share of the proceeds to finish the work on the boat and invest the rest to take early retirement.
You live on a boat?! How is that? Does it move all the time? How does the weather affect you? Where do you keep your stuff? Do you have electricity? How about fresh water? How’s the sleeping situation? How do you deal with waste? Are you connected to cable and WiFi? Does your dog like living on a boat? What happens when you go sailing?”
Yes, it’s true. Sleeping on a boat is like being rocked to sleep every night. We keep our stateroom hatch open a crack year-round and can hear the waves and seabirds as we drift off and awaken. When it’s stormy it can be a wild ride, but still so comfy to be cocooned in our bunk while Mother Nature and Father Neptune battle it out.
After nine years of doing the “mattress mambo” and changing out varieties of foam combinations, we made the investment in a real mattress for our bunk! This is not a “run down to the local mattress store, spend a few hours laying on samples, move a few pieces of furniture to clear a path for the delivery guys to set up” kind of situation. As everything else on a boat, it is more complicated and expensive than that.
To start with, boat beds are not like home beds. At all. Boat beds, called bunks or berths, are in staterooms (bedrooms) built into the superstructure of the boat. They are a wooden or fiberglass box frame usually built on top of drawers and/or storage space and are immobile.
Today is a significant date. First and foremost, it is my husband’s birthday. Aaron, the Captain of my boat and my heart, was born in 1964 and is 55 today. He is the most unselfish person I have ever met, giving of his time and talent, and most of all, Love, to his friends and family. He is completely devoted to our three Grands and, with his retirement, he spends more time with them than any of the grandparents, including me! He coaches Little League, builds props for my daughter’s photography business, and shows up just to cuddle our little princess when mommy needs a break. This from a guy who never had children and became a step-father when my kids were teens! We are blessed to have him in our lives and will celebrate with the kids after he coaches a baseball game this afternoon.
Sonho on the mooring balls at Angel Island. Photo by HBS
It still pains me to say it and I haven’t had the heart to change the countdown on this blogsite yet. It’s not a secret and the choice was made with love, but it doesn’t make it any less hard.
We are not cutting the docklines and starting our circumnavigation on April 16, 2019 as we had planned for so many years.
The reason? Our grandchildren. We adore those three more than anything in the world and we can’t, in good consciousness, leave them alone with their mommy while daddy is away for almost five months. It takes a village to raise that crazy clan and we are needed here to help keep Meghan sane and the kids alive. LOL.
These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity and I haven’t taken any quality time for myself. I haven’t spent any time on my blog or writing short stories or recipes, haven’t decorated our salon for Hanukkah (and it’s almost over!) and I have a few gifts still to finish before our family celebration tomorrow evening. My home and husband are both in need of my attention. Half day of work today with the other half committed to paperwork for the sale of Nana’s house and errands. And a busy, busy weekend ahead with the kids. The last time I felt rested and not rushing was Thanksgiving weekend.
So I stood on the end of the finger and closed my eyes. I listened to the sea birds calling to each other and the water lapping gently against the neighboring hulls, felt the bite of cold air on my skin and breathed deeply. I let my thoughts drift from my “To Do” list to the miracle of a new day unfolding and opened my eyes to watch the world awaken.
I live aboard a 42 ft Tayana Vancouver sailboat, hull #5 laid in 1979, with my husband and little dog. We are preparing to circumnavigate the globe in Fall 2020 and I enjoy blogging about our preparations for our journey, cooking in my tiny kitchen and writing short stories.