shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.

Closing Windows Opening Doors

June 8, 2015

A few weeks ago I asked for your input about the website. Before we get into this week's post, I wanted to thank everyone for the encouraging words, the Amazon shopping sprees (initiate your Amazon shopping with the link in the right column and Simply Sailing receives a small percentage at no cost to you), the book purchases, and the donations. You all really know how to make a girl feel special. I appreciate the support and will continue my weekly ramblings. THANK YOU!

Loaded up

The only thing worse than a weather window that slams shut is one that never opens. Our plan to sneak to the Caribbean during those few weeks after cold fronts had ended and before tropical systems started spinning was thwarted with the appearance of the first named storm weeks before the last cold front. Thanks, Ana. Though we knew our chances of getting back this season were diminishing every day, we continued working on Eurisko and telling ourselves that it could still happen. (I continued the lie until June 1 before admitting defeat.) We loaded the dinghy on the bow in her offshore position. We bought inflatable PFDs. We provisioned with $900 worth of food, including two weeks of snacks and throw-it-in-the-pan-and-heat-it dinners since neither of us is much good in the galley offshore. We reinstalled the lee clothes, bought supplies to renew the ditch kit's contents, filled the water and fuel tanks, climbed the rig, inspected and tuned the rigging, found our harnasses and jacklines, and shoved off the dock with the intention of staging closer to the inlet. You can't plan an offshore trip while sitting 50 miles up a river.

Where are we going?

We have often taken events to be signs from the sailing gods. This time they weren't sending us subtle messages, they were SCREAMING at us. We thought we were doing so well, too. We verified that the staysail sheets were not tied under the dinghy lines, checked that the genny sheets weren't woven through the lifelines on their way back to the winches, and confirmed that the main halyard wasn't laced through the lazy jacks like some giant high top boot. We motored off the dock (with a working motor!), rounded up, raised the main, unfurled the 140 genny and started tacking down the river. How silly we were to think that we controlled our destiny.

Offshore goodies

The first quiet message came when our speed transducer registered 0.0. It has become ever more finicky over the past decade, so we grabbed the handheld GPS to verify our speed. I plugged in the 12-volt extension, connected the GPS, pushed power, and stared at it, trying to figure out what I had done wrong. Having learned from the troubleshooting master, I unplugged the GPS, plugged in another 12-volt device and confirmed that the outlet, plug, and cord were good. It was the GPS that didn't work. No problem, I'll just put in batteries. Still nothing. That's OK, we have two backups. One of them had been stored with batteries in it which exploded and ruined the internal bits. There is no resurrecting that one. So I tried our oldest (15 years old), least reliable (it died on us the last time we headed to the Caribbean and was plugged in when we were struck by lightning) GPS. Though it won't work connected to the 12-volt system, it does at least turn on when powered by batteries. That's when Dave gave the first indication that we were not going to be able to ignore this sign. "I'm not going to the Caribbean with one questionable GPS." And just like that, the window started creeping closed.

Dead head sticker at the mast head

A day sail down the river from the marina is the perfect anchorage within walking distance to a West Marine. Though we won't delve into why it is so painful for us to even consider shopping there, we were willing to suck it up to not lose our chance to go to the Caribbean. With that settled in our minds, we sailed on.

Our beautiful day sail turned too brisk for all the sail area we were carrying, so we tucked in a reef. Now the sailing gods were not just whispering in our ear, they were tapping us on the shoulder to get our attention. We had ordered a brand new mainsail which fit perfectly when we hoisted it, set beautifully under full sail, and turned to shit when we reefed. The geometry of the reefs was just off enough that the tack wasn't taking the load correctly. The captain decided, "I'm not going offshore with that thing. It won't last 1,000 miles." BAM. Window shut, fate sealed. Done. But, ever the optimist, I still held out hope that our sailmaker would take one look at it and say, "Oh that's an easy fix! I'll have it back to you tomorrow" and we could walk to West Marine in the mean time to buy our GPS and maybe, just maybe, still get out of here this season.

Beautiful full main

We dropped the hook in one of my favorite north Florida anchorages that evening and before I could say the customary "We're home," Dave had his head in the engine room. This was the first time we had run the motor under load since he had replaced the shaft, rebuilt the stuffing box, and realigned the motor, so he was a bit nervous. The stuffing box was too hot, shaft had a wobble in it, and even I had to admit, we are stateside for the next 6 months.

But that closing window opened an infinite number of doors. When you can't do what you had planned to do or go where you had planned to go, suddenly the entire world is available to you. Each of our three boys lives on the eastern seaboard. We can sail to see any or all of them. We could get a little boat to play around in, like we did a few summers ago. A friend has a permaculture farm in the south of France and has invited us to live on his property if we'd like, and while in Europe I have friends in German and Greece that I have been wanting to visit for decades. Will we do any of those things? Who knows. The only thing that is certain is that we will do SOMETHING. We will sail SOMEWHERE. We will LIVE and ADVENTURE and ENJOY every minute of whatever it is we do.

A sailing friend who is currently landlocked said a few days ago, "Just to sit on deck of a sailboat for the afternoon would be heaven to me right now." How selfish of me to live in a beautiful, sturdy, traveling home and only want more. I still want to go to the Caribbean, and we probably will. Just not right now. So for now, we decide which open door to walk through and go from there. Every day is an adventure, wherever we are.

Though not necessarily sailing related, MONDAY we'll share one of our simple solutions to a pesky problem.

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