Monday, April 27, 2015

Hard Work and Stolen Moments

Life on the river is basic and beautiful. There are many boat projects that must be done. Other projects will make the trip more comfortable and get done if there's time. Some are cumbersome and tedious; others require long stares and quiet thinking to accomplish. In the morning, we have coffee and breakfast, and review our list. Each day is a good mix of technical brain work and physical work with our hands and backs. Most days are long with a late dinner and a slow evening fade into the sleep of the dead. Along with the work, we laugh and discuss the Vagabond Anarchist Sea Life. The next morning we wake and start again. Each day the voyage is closer and the boat is safer.

I steal some moments of my own too. When the first sun bursts over the hills across the river, it streams into the cabin waking me softly. I quietly stow the companionway boards and climb into the cool, soft glow of the dawning. The marina is quiet and the river is flat as a mirror. Pilings and docks hover over their reflections. The ducks are sleeping and the geese are quiet. Ashore a pair of deer are munching on grasses in an empty lot. They all seem to appreciate the stillness as much as I. The early clouds reflect so perfectly around the pier it seems that I am walking across the sky.

When I remember to emulate the stillness of the world around me, its as if a membrane is relaxed. The cool morning seeps into me and I begin to bleed into the world blurring the boundary. I can feel enormous and minuscule all at once; a sublime emptiness.

We are not sailing yet. Our projects are nearly complete, but the head sail will be in the sail loft most of the week. The voyage will not likely begin until Saturday or Sunday, May Second or Third. The captain and I are a good team. With quiet determination, we are getting s/v Eleanor ready for the trip home.


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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

My Life as a Swab

Best Resignation Letter Ever:  "Umm ... I have to quit because I'm helping a guy sail his boat to Panama."

I drove from Michigan to Newark International Airport to pick up Alex a couple Sundays ago and we got to work on his boat here at Stony Point on the Hudson River. Once s/v Eleanor is ready, the plan is to sail down the East Coast on the Atlantic Inter-Coastal Waterway with some jumps offshore. After a little time in Florida and the Bahamas, we will head through the Windward Passage and on to Panama.

The first few nights here in Stony Point were a bit cold but we really started the right week; just as the weather changed. Spring is springing, the days are getting warmer and we are making good progress on boat projects.

Eleanor is a Westsail 42; a beautiful cutter ketch. We have installed a woodstove, a hydraulic autopilot and removed the furler. We've googled and stressed about rod ends, thread sizes, manuals and various installation instructions. There's wiring to finish at the autopilot controls and various bits to install like a wind vane, another bilge pump, a transducer, a new headstay and a new furler. The schedule is tight to get to Panama before Hurricane Season, but we are doing well and life is good.

I am crew, barely qualified as a swab, but I've been helping all I can to help get Eleanor ready and doing some cooking in the galley. It is a privilege, and a luxury, to defer to the judgement of a knowledgeable captain. I am not in charge of anything and get to learn stuff at every turn.

So, I quit my job and drove 12 hours to spend three months or so in relatively close quarters with a guy I'd never met. There were many uncertainties about this endeavor. And everyting is working out great actually.  What is life changing is the openness and direct experience of not knowing exactly what's next and not having to care about it. There is no worrying or planning, I am allowing the path to emerge just ahead of my footsteps. Whether we imagine it's a red carpet or a thorny path that lies ahead of us, neither really exists. I just step toward that which will make my life better at that moment. The rest takes care of itself.

Homeward Epilogue

sv Ruth Ann in Beaufort, SC, 12/23 Ruth Ann is the last in a series of boats on which I was attempting to escape. I found her when I found a...