I write surrounded by thick fog in Neah Bay, waiting to make the big left turn. Getting here has taken six years of hard work and an entire lifestyle change. We are waiting to meet up with our crew, son Josh and nephew Ryan for our off shore passage down the coasts of Washington and Oregon to San Francisco. From there we will slowly work south towards Mexico and eventually the South Pacific.
Our six year journey here first required “the right boat,” selling our home and giving away everything we own. We kept only a foot locker filled with family photos. Our near total refit of our 1976 Kelly Peterson 44 included more than a hundred separate projects most started and finished while living aboard. It included a self installed new engine, a water maker, a hot water heating system, new refrigeration that did NOT entail going to a big store and buying a unit in a box that we plugged in. We have new upholstery, newly refinished floors, a lovely new inner spring mattress with two sets of home made custom sheets, new standing and running rigging and new sails. We added a hydrovane, SSB, chart plotter, Rocna anchor and 300 ft of 3/8’ chain and an AIS . We have solar power and a folding bucket. We even have a portable compressor to fill our dive tanks.
Oh and did I forget to tell you that somewhere in there I needed to learn to sail? So we made one trip to Desolation, one trip up the outside of Vancouver Island, one trip up the inside to The Queen Charlotte Islands and down the outside of Vancouver and for a shake down before the big one we spent three months this summer doing the inside passage to Alaska’s Glacier Bay and back..
I learned how to make corn and flour tortillas, homemade bread, mozzarella and string cheese, and yogurt in a thermos. I can magically make three weeks of food and toilet paper disappear inside the hull of our home and I know exactly how many rolls of single ply TP it takes for a couple for a month.
We gave away two cars and found a new home for our border collie Boo. Then we said good bye to everyone and anyone again and again and again. Everything we own in the world besides those family photos at my moms resides right here in our 44 feet of fiberglass home. I know how to navigate and plot a course and handle the helm. We have a medical kit set up to handle major illness, burns, fractures and trauma. I know which medicine to use for urinary tract infections and which to use for a skin infection. We bought a Kindle and a friend gave us ¾ of a terabyte of music in two tiny little boxes.
All of this I have decided is my cousin Brian’s fault. Why you ask? When I was 12 years old back in 1973 my mom decided to pack up her three kids and drive for two entire months to Connecticut and back to see my uncle Steve and his family. Once we got to Connecticut Uncle Steve and Aunt Cris packed up their three kids Reed, Brian and Karol and took their summer vacation. We all went camping to Rhode Island and Maine.
Now my cousin Brian drug his little sunfish sailboat along with us and seemed really excited about teaching me to sail. He is a little older than me and I remember always thinking he was smart. Really smart. I trusted him. I don’t remember much about the boat. I think it was yellow. A little one mast with a hull that was basically a plastic dish that looks like a boat. Once we got to the camp ground he was excited to get put it in the water and get her little sail up. I had no idea what to expect but trusted my cousin to take care of us despite the twinkle in his eye and the chuckling laughter that bubbled out of him in excitement.
He got the thing going under us and I held on. The afternoon was warm and the lake was smooth. I could see the shore and was just starting to enjoy the movement of the little boat when he hollered hang on! Over we went. You see to Brian tipping the thing over was the fun. Sailing came in second. Or maybe it was tipping the thing over with his little cousin aboard that was the fun part. We spent the afternoon wallowing in the warm lake water, sailing and tipping and righting the boat again and again. I don’t think I had ever laughed so much or swallowed so much water. But it was great. Exciting and daring and felt very grown up for a 12 year old.
Maybe if that day had gone differently or if the weather had been colder or the boat much harder to right? When my Husband first said "well what do you think?" I might be sitting home on our leather couch watching a big screen TV or spending my days tending my garden and walking my dog. Right now it's my turn to work on the sea anchor. We have 100 more cones to splice into the 300 foot line before we take to the sea. The life of a cruising woman, wouldn’t trade it for anything. When I make it to California alive I think I will write a letter to my cousin.