Yes, leaving the Caribbean-blue behind and landing in Florida was a momentous occasion but anchoring in the very anchorage we embarked from on our first blue water sail together brought a whole slew of new thoughts and feelings of accomplishment. I couldn’t help but reflect on our journey.
We left these shores with little expectations except to get to Bermuda then start the Caribbean as far East as possible. We had prepared and stocked our boat to the best of our abilities. We had gizmos and gadgets that worked (maybe not so much towards the end). We had emergency plans. We had us and Gaia. And so we sailed with the unknown ahead and a knowledge that it could…/probably/would get rocky…. (yes, the below is me…. less than happy)
After sailing THOUSANDS of miles (that’s multiple amounts of 1,000!) for 10 months we made a full circle. We were proud. We had overcome adverse circumstances, fears, really big waves, sea serpents, trifling rainbows, unruly groups of friends (as pictured to the right), and wild and untamed fresh fruit from the Leeward & Windward Islands! Good Grief!
People told us we were brave… but you don’t feel brave when you’re three days out at sea, it’s 2300, and you poke your head out of the companion way hatch to see black walls of water on either side of you and a dark grey sky. You feel small and alone. And once you remember how overbuilt the boat is and how much preparation went into this journey… you smile for a weary second and think ‘Cool!’ before the motion of the boat whirls you around and your aching muscles remind you how sick and tired you are of this.
We had so many memories now – good bad and funny (see above picture) and they weren’t without cost. Over the years, we gave up countless weekends working to the midnight hour at times. We gave up comforts of living on land, we gave up having a savings account, heck, we gave up our jobs to pursue this agenda of life. And we were blessed to have friends help us along over the years. It was an entire community who encouraged and inspired us; who worked on Gaia with us and toyed around the Boston harbor with us. Even our families didn’t fight our love of the ocean but gave us warm hugs and wished us well… (for the most part…I’m looking at you Dad! – but you did come around).
Yes, when the anchor was well-driven into the muddy bed in Beaufort, NC, I took in the surroundings with a new perspective and it was great.
Once we had our moment of, “we’re back”, we opened up beers, jumped into the dinghy, and dinghy-ed over to a floating concert. Near a sandbar, a dozen poorly-anchored motor boats clustered around a stationary barge with a full reggae band playing. A bud light gripped tightly in every hand, drunken girls yelling about pointless things, grown men with beer bellies talking about fishing or doing backflips off transoms, and a goofy smile on everyones face – it was a beautiful summer day in Beaufort, NC.
11 July 2016 marked our one year anniversary as a married couple. We spent the day perusing local shops, eating at Clawsons, and settling down in a coffee shop to get wifi. We made a reservation at a nice restaurant on the water then returned to our boat to write our vows….
It may seem a bit late to write vows one year after the fact…. for some people… but for us it was just right. The night before our wedding day we were both tired and realized neither of us had taken the time to sit down and write out some heartfelt promises. So we jointly decided to punt on it… and in the ceremony we honored the traditional Lutheran liturgy and recited a version of what my parents and my parents’ parents vowed on their wedding days. I also found out the first year anniversary should be commemorated with paper… (seems odd to me… considering the properties of paper and its ability to be torn in half or easily tossed into the trash) but we bought a pad of sketch paper and wrote our vows of marriage on that paper, thereby keeping that silly tradition alive for us.
Our late night dinghy ride back to the boat. Dolled up and all, I can still operate the dink and climb my transom.