You read many books, attended seminars and became immersed in the how-to’s. You have become obsessed with passionate stories by Moitessier, Roth, Kretchmer, Baldwin, etc. Imagine having dreamed for decades that you’re going to do this bigger trip, and intensively planned for another five years, then executing. You are going to slow your life down, travel the slow boat to places less traveled.
I stood in the companionway for hours, filled with delight at the sparkling ocean and too blue sky. The air was as clear as the rays of a star, and I felt I could see all the way to eternity. My uncluttered life was indeed sweet, and it seemed – as it always does- that the simplest pleasures were best.Hal Roth, while on passage from Palmerston to Samoa, 1967.
I couldn’t just keep reading it. Time is limited, so we decided to commit. But imagine just the thought of selling your beloved home, watching your kids graduate, anticipating another year of work, while saving money instead of buying another car or another pair of shoes. Then actually doing it! You tell some (folks who probably won’t understand), that you’re downsizing, and so you begin living a split life. You feel plenty of anxiety from within. Are we really doing this? Reality starts biting bigger chunks out of a settled life with each passing milestone.
One year to launch date…
The house sells too quickly. You have a blowout yard sale, push your less-cherished possessions more aggressively, and give away almost all of what’s left to friends and neighbors. And finally a small storage locker is rented at the local Uhaul facility into which you shoehorn what few materials remain from a half-century of your life.
Nine months to launch…
The dreaded day comes to tell the boss about your plans! A long career you built, and have really begun to enjoy, unravels with each word. Anxiety peaks, but you push yourself over the cliff. How long will you be away? His valid question lingers because you’re not sure how to answer. One year? You reluctantly agree, but know it isn’t certain. You let it ride for now…
Four months to launch…
You come clean with the uncertainty of time, and make a small presentation of your big news, along with a ridiculously simplistic itinerary to your cherished coworkers. So much still remains uncertain, but it’s ok while difficult to explain, with so much work remaining – the boat, job, helping kids move, and stuffing your possessions into a 5×10 foot storage locker. Will it ever actually fit?
Three months to launch. You purge more stuff. And that’s what it really is – “stuff”. We won’t miss it. Encouraging sentiments abound from close friends, nudging with each step. This is really happening!
Zealously attacking many boat projects, you work from dawn to dusk. Over the last two years, Fayaway had been completely re-fit… nothing, except the structure of this modest vessel has been left un-renewed, building confidence that it can safely take you anywhere. Striving to keep things simple, you install more niceties, such as a water maker, refrigerator and solar power.
Two months, one… Ready… Launch. Sort of.
Nope. Time to wait… for marina to finish boat work scheduled many months before. They don’t seem to care about your plans. Window for northern Atlantic is eventually closed, so you alter plans accordingly. Not a problem. Just a few more lemons is all. We’ll do it next summer? Instead of Panama canal this year we’ll rewind and go north again for the summer. What’s the rush?
Zzzrrrrpppp… (sound of needle scraping across vinyl record – remember those?) Fast forward another eleven months, to being anchored in Culebra, and remembering why you are still anchored in the same secluded bay, eight weeks later. Quarantined, watching the news of a chaotic world locking down, and your dreams have been put on hold. How long will you be away?
Just another reality check, is all this is. Curve ball. Juicy lemons. We put all our chips on the table. But the hand is still in play – not yet time to cash-in. It’s been a hell of a ride so far. Take a breath and let’s take stock of the gains – let’s review those chips again, ones we removed from the game and banked away:
You may recall reading that we’ve already visited many islands and especially some that others avoid. They were the best ones! How many people have met Lumpy, Marie and many other wonderful residents of Saba? And we have been so incredibly fortunate to have made countless new friends at every other island. My blood pressure has been reduced without medicine. We have remained at a comfortably warm 80-85F for the entire winter! We bask with tropical fish in glorious clear salty water every afternoon, have used almost no fuel, and make our delicious Puerto Rican coffee from the sun every morning. Life is easier than ever, and with a very light environmental footprint. The work and sacrafice continues to pay off. It really doesn’t seem like it ever was a sacrifice.
So what if life throws a curve ball? I read somewhere that the overwhelmingly common trait of centenarians’ longevity is their ability to overcome adversity. And adversity is what you make of it. Pretty much everyone got this ‘rona ball. Some worse than others. So far not so bad for us, and we’re not complaining. We still have our health (knock on teak), our friends, our boat and maybe enough money to live for a while longer. Let’s keep playing.
We’re not the only boat looking to get out of dodge. Over 200 boats have joined the Salty Dawg flotilla to get out of the islands and get back to the US. Not being able to stop at other countries/islands along the way is what makes this trip so unusual. This tracking map is showing one point in time, and most boats are waiting another week or two before departure from USVI or Puerto Rico. Aside from Fayaway’s dedicated tracking map, you can also see the entire SDSA flotilla here.
Our priorities are no longer about visiting more islands before the money runs out. We worry more about our families and others less fortunate, and decided we should reprioritize. While it would be great to continue on and visit the most remote places in the world, we are shifting toward self-preservation and helping others in need. Above all, we need to get out of the hurricane belt before it starts here this summer. Here’s a glimpse into our priorities…
- Go north – out of hurricane zone. We’re waiting for weather to improve before making long passage north.
- Arrive in New England for June. Spend precious time with family and old friends.
- Watch international rules for visiting yachts. If outlook improves we’ll continue to Canada and across the Atlantic this summer.
- If improvement is not likely then we’ll remain in US, doing what we can to help family and friends. As the summer ends, we’ll then decide to a) haul Fayaway, get housing, job, watch for next year to continue journey. Or b) continue aboard Fayaway, travel south in September.
- We’ll figure it out. Maybe we put everything on hold as in 4.a) and just go back to land-based life indefinitely, rebuild and wait for the world to welcome us all back again.