|Instead of being on land looking out to the water, we're on the water, looking back to the town.|
When I tell new people I meet that we're not really "from" anywhere; that we live on a sailboat and travel north or south with the seasons and our whims, the general response seems to be admiration for our adventurousness and our freedom. Publicly, we always describe our lifestyle with enthusiasm. And yet, privately we had been recently feeling less charitable; frustrated and restless, grumpy with each other and with what felt like the clutter and congestion of our everyday land-focused lives.
Dan finally put his finger on it -- we have been off having adventures the last year, spending the winter scuba diving in Aruba and the summer crewing on the Spanish tall ship El Galeon, as well as smaller road trips in rental cars to Annapolis and Key West, but our boat has not been out of the slip for that entire year, the longest period we've been stationary in the 16 years that we've owned this boat. The boat at the dock in the downtown marina has been a convenient launching pad and base of operations for our wanderings ... but because we were staying in one place anyway, living aboard afforded us nothing -- aside from the "cool factor" that enhances our image -- that a small condo wouldn't have served equally well. Better, really, because compared to that hypothetical condo, the boat is quite a bit more cramped, and often damp.
In the normal course of life afloat, cramped-and-damp is a small price to pay for the benefits of being on a boat that actually takes you to new places. So it was time to take those benefits we'd been earning, and last week, after two days of preparing and testing systems that had not been run in months (and despite all those preparations, still forgetting half the steps on our underway checklist!) we carefully backed out of the slip. Our destination was a mooring on the north side of the bridge, a scant half-mile -- or a world -- away.
We made it easy on our out-of-practice selves, picking a calm day and timing our departure near slack tide; still, we were glad the mooring field was nearly empty of people to see us fumble our first attempt to pick up the mooring. After the second try, though, we were securely tied, and before lunchtime found us lounging in the cockpit taking in our new surroundings.
We had all the comforts of home, we were in our home, but were away from car horns and clocks and tourists walking the docks. We had told our friends that we needed to do some things that couldn't be done in the slip, like checking the autopilot, and we did check it, but mostly, we just needed to shake the cobwebs from our sails and our minds. Our boat was our own private island, away from it all, and instead of a full to-do list, we were letting the day unfold however it would, without plan or schedule. The light shifted in ancient rhythms as the sun settled westward and the tidal currents reversed. Eyes used to close-focus on computer screens now looked toward distant horizons; engine and human sounds were replaced with the squawking of gulls and the chuffing of dolphins circling our boat. That short exposure to the natural world was all it took. I could just feel the shift, feel the easing of tensions, relaxing muscles I didn't know I'd been clenching. The stress and the grumpiness were gone, like hitting a "reset" button in our brains. It was the tiniest of stay-cations, and simultaneously a dramatic reminder that the whole point, the reason we were living on a boat and making the compromises to comfort and convenience that we were, was to be in touch with nature and satisfy our wanderlust ... boats are made to move!
|The sky is so big, out here!|
|Day slowly settles into night, on its own time.|