Erik says I am the first mate. I say, I am the only mate. By way of introduction, my debut post on Fezywig explains how I got into this salty situation sailing seas seven to a vessel (alliteration fun). It wasn't just Erik's charisma and good looks, though those two gifts enhance his persuasiveness. This was originally posted on my blog last week.
Three days ago we stuffed our duffles and caught a jet stream to our new floating abode. Change is fast, but transition is slow and things rarely go as we expect. This unlikely dream journey is already six years old. Erik wanted to sail, so when a friendly visitor at church offered to captain a daysail on his own little sailboat, Erik jumped. What did he care ladies were the target audience? He puked four times that day (it was not the ham sandwich I made for him) and couldn't wait to get back out there. Temporarily taking on a second part-time job, he signed four of us up for bi-weekly afternoon sailing lessons in New York Harbor, one of the busiest waterways on the Hudson. The excitement of sailing by the Statue of Liberty was lost on three nauseous sailors. Two of them planted their warm faces on the cool deck of the J-24 and begged to end the lesson early. As it turns out, I'm not prone to sea sickness. Phew! We kept coming back. The queasies subsided. We passed our certification exam.
We celebrated by sailing as a family, including our three youngest children who had never been aboard. We rented a sailboat at Tom's River, just the seven of us. Imagine the romantic setting as we launch into the cool blue waters, only one child clenched in an endless death-scream, as we join the jet skis, motor boats, and sailing vessels already skimming along. What a jolly site. A six month old in a sun bleached life vest and a Bumbo seat nursing undeterred by mother's equally buoyant life vest. What is 10 inches of foam between mother and child? Unfazed they are, by the screaming three year old trying to dig a bomb shelter with his face in mother's armpit. The fearless six year old clings to the deck as if she is perched on a slender oak branch 40 feet in the air repeating the soothing mantra, "I want to go home. I want to go home. I want to go home." See how the friendly sailors wave and laugh as the family's boat keels two inches starboard and the entire family shrieks in unison racing to the other side of the boat, only to make it wobble to port. And hear our cheery skipper's unfailing bark as he growls us all to order. After an hour, the death scream subsides, but tossing pebbles from the riverbank is unanimously voted the favorite part of the day. We temporarily reconsider this dream.
Insert lots of other steps over multiple seasons including:
-Our favorite skipper splitting rental costs with friends to get sail time
-Completing two courses in a Caribbean week ( NOT romantic),
-Joining a sailing school so we could finally sail as a family for two years of weekly water
-3 days of chartered family puking in Florida
-Test sailing a catamaran with friends (romantic after Erik's fierce mucous infection finally dried up).
Pursuing this dream has been both an arduous, and delightful adventure already. I'm amazed we continued after such a foreboding start. After a lifetime of mild aqua phobia, I was not seduced by the romance of the sea. I proceeded purely out of love for my husband. Our skills increased. It's funny how we never get worse at something. Sailing became really fun. This was partly because it's an outdoor water sport with a lot of wind, but also because we could gather up our children to ourselves. We were often out of cell range. We sat facing each other in the sunshine for three or four hours at a time. We would talk, sing, shriek at the occasional steep angle and sea spray. We would tack, jibe, and run man overboard drills. We would navigate by map and keep a sharp eye out for buoys with praise heaped on the first scamp who could clearly read it's number and find it on the chart. That focused time together felt slower and more wholesome than our average hours. Memories remained more vibrant and distinct. And I snorkeled. Now, it's one of my favorite things. It's still scary, but totally worth it. What other favorites are hiding inside my fears?
I think Erik started sailing inspired by the romantic notion of celestial navigation and big oceans connecting humanity through the centuries. Then one day he said, "I think the seven of us on a boat would be enough universe to keep me engaged for the rest of my life." If not those exact words, something darn close to that. And that is the plank I walked to get onboard with this dream. My vision is a vibrant loving family that works, plays, and explores together. Home and Family are my watchwords. My genius husband has figured out how to meld our visions to stay home and to travel. He is a big believer in both. I swear, one day he will keel over dead from a Stroke of Brilliance