The sun was not blazing hot yet and a light breeze cooled me as I pulled the dock cart across the marina yard. It was filled with three sacks of sweaty, grimy clothes, rags and towels in desperate need of some serious washing. “This is what sailors do on land,” I reminded myself, reflecting this past week’s “get the boat ready to sell” projects.
As I methodically sorted laundry into three lots for the three washers, I fell into conversation with a guy named Ian who was folding his clean laundry. He was pleasantly tanned, looking like a nicely fit granddad, wearing the all too familiar tee-shirt and cargo shorts. And, as sailors so often do, our chat revolved around our boats and sailing. I started with highlights from our adventure. He charmingly smiled and nodded. Little did I know that our adventure was a small “happening” compared to what they were about to do on their Saga 43′ — a five-year sail around the world.
This man had done most of the “get ready” repair and replacement work himself over the past year and was itching to go. Their first goal is to cross the Atlantic (he’d done the crossing during his racing days). He is what I am not — a truly able cruising sailor, steeped in DIY ingenuity and, most obviously, highly advanced sailing skills with a love for the sailing life on large water. I returned his smile and nodded, knowing quite well that I didn’t want any part of their adventure and I was OK with that!
On reflection, there were special moments of absolute sailing perfection, plain fun, breath-taking views, but also a sufficient number of moments of near terror or full-scale frustration. Each deserves a gold metal in my memory. I know how lucky we were to have the right boat, the financial capability and Cindy’s skilled assistance and the sense not to overreach ourselves.
Despite having cruised before, or maybe because I had cruised 30 years before, I had this glamorous vision of taking on the challenges of cruising as captain, not as a mate as I did the first time. And, there was a magical satisfaction to see men gape in disbelief when I, a stubby blonde lady, perfectly parallel parked her 46′ boat at the fuel dock between massive power boats, and then smoothly leave that dock without banging the dinghy against the pilings or the other boats. Yes, I do confess that it did take some practice to get it right, but I succeeded many times after a few near misses! Anyway, back to the point of the story.
I’m a decent sail boat captain, but the cruising life is no longer a dream or a reality for me. Despite the experience and knowledge, I’ve gained from these past nine months, I’m no longer willing to take the risks of a genuine “salty sailor” or endure three days without a shower, catching naps off-watch in an air starved cabin, not caring if I smell. Even though I can ably chart a course, track weather, handle sails and a helm in weather, I do not have the energy hold a helm for hours without autopilot, the patience to wait for parts delivery, the fortitude to take 12 foot pitch black seas with 35 knot winds on the nose, or the mechanical skills to diagnose, much less, keep a diesel engine, generator, HVAC, and plumbing system operating. I openly declare that “I don’t do engines and such” and have no interest in learning. I am unable to thoroughly embrace, much less endure, the constant ups and downs of it all.
The ache in my belly to prove myself has evaporated, like salty sweat on a hot day. I’ve learned my limits and humbly accepted them. I’m content, satisfied and pleased, not broken-hearted and mournful about it all coming to an end.
My intention in writing this blog was to tell a true story about cruising, capturing the action and emotions as they happened. There was no intention to paint the imaginary romanticized picture so many people write in their blogs that makes little of or dismisses the reality of everyday life on the water.
If you love cruising and the sailing life, our adventure will not deter you from keeping your dreams alive. The dream is alive and well with many others like the sailors we met along the way — our friends who continue to love the cruising life despite the ups and downs. We lived the dream, feasted on it, and are now ready for “something else”.
Last night, John and I were sitting on desk watching the burning orange sun drop from the indigo evening sky here in the marina. “Are you sure you’re done with sailing?” he queried with eyebrows raised.
“Well, I think so. Let’s give it a year. Then maybe, just maybe, a little boat on the Bay might be possible. I just don’t know, do you?”
He shrugged his shoulders, looking at me with big sparkling eyes, “Who knows? Maybe.”
But, right now, it’s time to close the book on our sailing and living aboard adventure on Dolce Vento. This is the last post. I hope you’ve delighted in following our travels as much as we’ve delighted in taking them. We treasure it all — the ups, the downs and the sideways.