Going Inland

Some thoughts on Sailing, and being a woman at the Helm

Writing & Wanderlust

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So…we went inland for the Easter holiday, to see family in La Porte.  Funny how we’ve blended into the weave of fellow IBC’s (Islanders by Choice) here on our Gulf Coastal Island home.  Even still, we long for the water, the rocking back and forth of our sailboat, the clinking of the masts in the wind.  We visited with a local marina the day after Easter, after we got back to the island from a second trip to La Porte in two days because Nico left his phone at his Mom’s the day before.  I have to admit, that day was a good one: lunching with Nico’s dad (the baby’s only living Grandpa), the lolly-gag-of-a-drive back to the island, the visit to the marina…and the smell of the water…down along the slips.

My wanderlust is really getting to me these days, and I miss our sailboat more and more.  If…

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Rescue of a San Juan 24

~ Bottom Cleaning, Swabbing the Deck, and Hull Inspection ~

~ Bottom Cleaning and Hull Inspection ~

Rescue Of A San Juan 24

~ First Cleaning of Our Old Girl ~

Restoring a San Juan 24

— The Way She Was When We Found Her —

Becoming a Sailor

Day of Discovery

Day of Discovery

The very first time I ever went sailing, it was a night sail and we were all there to have fun…not necessarily learn how to sail.  Well, that was almost ten years ago and I am so happy that, but-if-only for a short time, I can now say I am a sailor.  Admittedly, I’m not an accomplished sailor who can actually set sail on her own and solo-circumnavigate the globe, but a woman who has actually started to learn and understand the complications of sailing.  I love it…even still; though it is no easy task. 

It’s been almost a year now since we first found our San Juan 24, and Nico and I have been steadily bringing our old girl around…after much elbow work.  You see…?  When we found our old–or should I say ‘vintage’–sailing yacht, she had spent many-a-days floating about in her slip; neglected and full of dirt-daubers and cobwebs.  Even a bit of a puddle in the bilge, in addition to everything else, couldn’t sway us from falling in love with our SJ-24.  It was as if she’d been waiting for our little family to come along and keep her company…for all those years she’d been neglected. 

But…alas!  We are bringing her around now and she has spent some time on a local lake, leaving a rooster-tail wake behind her.  Our old girl is fast!  And, because she is a fixed keel with a 4 foot drop and sitting on a very shallow lake that is in the process of being dredged, we have the very real worry of running aground and damaging the keel before we can ever really get her into open water and turn her loose. 

That said…  We aim to do just that: get our boat to deeper waters and see what she’s really capable of, even though we are still learning and know we should be in no hurry to put ourselves into a situation we aren’t capable of handling just yet.  So…in the meantime, we will putt about our shallow lake and learn the art of sailing; learn how our old girl handles; how fast she can go without hitting the bottom. 

As for running aground, we’ve already been there and done that.  Lucky for us, we had a line of sailing friends there to pull us out.  That, we know, is a luxury that we will likely not have when or if we ever run aground out there…somewhere.  But then again, that’s just one of the things that make a sailor seasoned.  I welcome the risk!

*A full life worth living is worth the many chances you’ll take to get there* 

Finding Our True North

It seems like finding our ‘true north’ is near-impossible at times.  The harder we try to find our way…to chart another course,  the more we tend to get stuck in the mud of the monotonous…everyday life. I know there are many others out there in the world, like us, who long for la Sprezzatura; as the Italians refer to that certain ease of life and making difficult matters seem easy.

As I observe the norm of the majority, I see that…like us, most folks in America and abroad tend to box themselves into a way of life that is rather impossible at times to maintain. Like trying to escape quicksand, the more they make the more they spend. I ask myself: why? It really makes no sense at all, yet most of us just keep on keeping on, like robots programmed to do something over and over and over again. Where’s the fun? Where’s the adventure? Where’s the…life, in that? Still…I see no reason to work one’s life away (the only one we get) for stuff and material possessions one might never get the time to enjoy. It’s the sad truth–the American way! For us, me and my family, it’s the wrong way.

Yesterday, my husband got up…had a bite to eat–a taco I had just made–and he went sailing. It was a beautiful morning to be on the water, moving along under power of the invisible. To me, there is nothing more exuberating than when the wind is coaxing us along on its wings, when we are being carried on the water by the mysterious force that has never been seen with the naked eye. Sailing is beautiful in-and-of itself; so peaceful, so powerful, so intoxicating. To me…sailing is really living!

Looking back through history, sailboats were a means to another seashore, the mode of transportation, the only mode of transport. The captain would chart his course, hoist the sails, and let the wind take him to where he needed to land. It wasn’t a sport, it was a way of life. I feel that modern way of life has lost its luster to much extent. The passion is gone, that certain ease of life is missing, we’ve yet to find that certain Kefi, the Greeks know so well. Like sailors of long-past-days, we have-yet to find our True North.

It’s really not as hard as it seems; all we must do is sit…think…feel. You see…? If you sit and allow your mind to wander, relax and see the things you love to do–a past place visited, a place you’ve been, something you’ve done or experienced–you’ll know you’ve found that one thing, or your true self when it all lines up. First the thought comes to mind, then your heart starts to race…you feel a rush of excitement, the adrenaline starts to pump, and you feel more alive…even younger! THAT is the thing for you; your true North.

When you find it…never let it go. For if,or when, you do…you will cease to live in a sense. Your world will turn several shades of gray; it will lack color. But then, if you allow yourself, you’ll let your thoughts find your ‘happy place’, and you’ll chart your course…no matter the obstacles in your path. You will look back on your former life, the robotic…monotonous…for-naught lifestyle you’d been accustomed to, and you’ll feel a sense of relief that you did it; you stepped out of the norm and you found your Kefi. And…you’ll finally feel free!

*This life we’re in, it ain’t worth living. The life we love is worth fighting for* — The Big Seashore by Gypsy Vin Rose (http://www.gypsyvinrose.com)

Sailing Our San Juan 24 — The Maiden Voyage

Yesterday was a day unlike any other–it was the day we sailed our SJ 24 ‘Peniki II’ for the very first time. It’s nearing a year now since we saved her from going to scrap, and it hasn’t been easy getting her ready to sail. But it has certainly been worth it in every way!

You see…? We love our old yacht; she is now part of our family, and we were beyond joy (floating on air) yesterday when a seasoned sailor friend of ours offered to ride along with us to show us the ropes, and even loaned us his motor so we could clear the docks with ease. It was the final installment, I guess one might say, in the many contributions our sailing friends have made…just to help us get the old girl back out sailing again. For all their help, we are forever grateful.

For many…many months, we’ve been itching to get our boat out on the little lake where she is moored, but without a motor (and with our toddler on board) we wanted to play it safe, and so we opted to wait it out until we were able buy our own outboard.

Anyone who has ever owned a boat, especially a sailboat…vintage or new, knows it’s a labor of love that cannot be measured by the dollars one will spend on the restoration, maintenance, and countless other avenues. We are of meager means when it comes to money, so it has been rather slow-going getting our ‘old girl’ out sailing again.

Many of our sailing friends were almost as excited as we were to see our classic SJ #38 cutting through the waves like butter. She’s a fast boat, so we’ve discovered; even with sails that are a bit too small. Lucky for us though, because this boat is so swift that she might’ve gotten away from us under bigger sails.

Needless to say, yesterday is the day we have recorded to be ‘The Day We Began Our Sailing Journey’ on board our ‘bargain-boat-turned-classic’…Peniki II. Our maiden voyage, but-if-only a day trip, was the first of many more to come; of this we are certain.

The memory of sailing into the setting sun at the helm of our San Juan 24 will forever be priceless! We are now counting the days ’til we set sail again; knowing that someday in our near future we’ll be charting our course to deeper waters and places yet unseen.

Never stop Dreaming…

It’ll All Come Out In The Wash

My mom used to say “It’ll all come out in the wash.”, if ever I had a problem I couldn’t seem to solve.  Well, this week has been riddled with life’s little adversities…but it has all worked itself out in the end.

One challenge I faced was over this past weekend when we went camping; Baby didn’t take quite so well to sleeping in the van fold-out bed.  It’s been almost a year since we set up camp in Peniki (our old VW Westfalia) and it seems she’s forgotten the drill.  Last year when we were out there on the road, giving in to wanderlust, Baby was much smaller and was easily managed by placing her in her play-pen and giving her some toys and such.

This year…?  It’s a whole different ballgame!  She is our little explorer (she comes by that rather honestly) and she wants to see and be seen, hear and be heard…even in the middle of the night.  Which gets me to the root of the problem: she didn’t sleep…at all!  She screamed, kicked, and thrusted about the camper van like a rabid rag doll.  Needless to say, Mom and Dad did NOT sleep at all either!  Instead, we ducked and guarded ourselves against Baby’s kicks and jabs; I got it a few times, and I have the bruises to prove it!

So…we ‘somehow’ made it through the night–Baby finally went to sleep after I rocked her in my arms, while I was half-asleep…standing up…in the drive-away tent.  Then came the dawn on Father’s Day.  Here we go again…!

Just as the sun was about to make a grand entrance to our lovely, peacefully quiet, and breezy cool morning…Baby began to stir around, then came the screaming!  ‘Why me…?!’  I wondered silently.

Before long, Nico was awake and we were once again being punched and kicked by a half-awake toddler with a really bad temper.  Ugh!!!  I was fast losing my cool, so I enlisted the help of a much more ‘patient’ soul than I myself.  Daddy to the rescue!!!  Yippee!  I didn’t want to land Baby in Nico’s lap on the dawn of Father’s Day, but it was my only choice.

So…that was the start of our Sunday, and I won’t go into details exactly…but I finally had to take over again and enforce a bit of discipline once I ‘knew’ Baby was aware of her behavior, she wasn’t hurting, nor was she still asleep.  A Mom’s gotta do what a Mom’s gotta do sometimes.  And, just as my Mom & Dad would’ve done, I nipped it in the bud.

The crying stopped, I received good morning hugs and lubbings from the very same little girl who’d been kicking me just minutes before, and all was right with our Father’s Day.  We got through the rest of the day without incident, visited with our sailing club friends, worked on our boat a bit, and baby took her very first nap on our new/old sailing yacht ‘Peniki II’ while the rain drizzled lightly outside the stern hatch.

We invited a few club friends onboard Peniki II, had a few margaritas from what was left of the mix that’d been enjoyed the day before, rolled up camp then headed back to the city.  I look forward to doing it again…soon!

*Taking the good with the bad*