Are you a true sailor?

The thought “Dear God what have I gotten myself into” has become an everyday thought in our lives! Constantly trimming and rearranging is what we’re now accustomed to, but as gluttons for punishment we are training ourselves to look fear and frustration head on.

One of our after dinner walks on the docks.

My husband, son, and I live aboard our 36′ Catalina in the San Juan Islands. We love it and have never looked back to our land locked life, even once. We have managed to find work, start homeschooling, and make time to hoist the sails on many occasions. We’re becoming accustomed to our responsibilities when underway and as a not very experienced sailor… I’m very proud of that! So after multiple light wind day cruises and lots of docking practice I was feeling ready for a lesson on sailing in strong wind, which I highly recommend so your not “that guy” who’s ripping off your bowsprit on a dock piling! Boy was I in for a surprise.

We hired a very experienced Captain to come aboard our vessel and show us the ropes. The day was forecasted to bring 25 to 35 knot winds so we knew it would be the real deal, but the reality was far more then I could ever imagine! We made it out to the open bay and began to hoist our main and jib. I was so excited that the guys were using our new reefing lines, and our new roller fuller was reefed and holding strong. I pointed her downwind and sailed her out of the wind shadow. That’s when all hell broke lose (or so I thought at the time). We were hit with a 35 knot gust right off the bat and I knew we were going down! My initial fear lessoned a bit when the instructor gave out a loud “Woohoo!”, and I realized that this is what our boat was made to do.

The question was… is this what I was made to do?

30 minutes in and my arms were aching, I was sweating bullets in 45 degree weather and I was convinced that we were going to die at least 3 times. Not to mention our cast iron skillet flew out of our oven and into our son’s bunk, and there were books and Kitchen utensils finding new homes with every green water wave we took. With our personal belongings crashing all over our home, and our son hysterically crying in the cockpit I stepped into gear! That momma bear instinct was what I needed to truly embrace the roll of Captain and learn how to keep our little family afloat. After another half hour of getting our rear ends kicked we decided to turn back to the marina and salvage what was left of our little skipper’s love of the boat life.

I was so flustered at the time but I can now look back and remember the joy of riding the swells and the feeling of the icy spray on my face. The shear anticipation of seeing our little marina pop out from behind another island was one of the most soulful moments in my entire life! Until I realized that with bruised and shaky hands we had come to the high wind docking portion of the lesson.

“Oh dear God what have I got myself into?”

I quickly developed my spot turn technique and was so thrilled to learn that my once annoying prop walk was actually a very useful tool. All was going pretty well until I forced our instructor to take a 10 foot leap of faith onto the dock to secure us. We all had a good laugh and agreed no harm no foul and tried again… 4 more times. I learned a great deal about safety and my husband (the line handler) was extremely happy that this lesson was making his job so much easier! Let’s just say that he was not ready for a leap of great proportions!

This experience humbled us tremendously! I was greatly reminded of the power of nature and most importantly the power that lies in each of us that atemp to harness that feeling of shear adrenaline and use it to better ourselves. An amazing level of confidence is achieved when you set out to conquere your fears and learn to use them to work together to create experiences that shape our exsistence and our dreams.

Our lesson was directly under this rainbow… amazing how God works!

“The path is wherever the wind takes us”

What a crazy start to 2019! Along with the usual lose weight, quit bad habits, and do more good resolutions, we have been in serious work mode! We started noticing last December, that our mast was inverted (leaning forward) and that is not a good thing! My husband Nick dove right into the project and quickly discovered that we needed to do one of the most costly and challenging projects you could ever do on a sailboat… rigging!

Now after reading a few of my posts you might be wondering if there’s a twist in this story that ends with grand blessing… well you were wondering for a good reason because this one is GOOD!

After a ton of research, Nick found a shipyard just on the other side of the bay that would allow us to do some of the work ourselves because we also found out that if we paid someone to do the job it would be over $17K, and that was not an option. So Nick went to the shipyard to get everything set up and came home with a job offer! I couldn’t believe it! Not the fact that they offered Nick a job because that happens to him on a monthly basis (diesel mechanics are in high demand), but because they would be losing money from us as clients. From a business standpoint it just didn’t make sense. Regardless, he gladly accepted the job and this great group of guys helped us learn and grow in ways we never saw coming.

Removing the mast at
Jensens shipyard

This project has once again reminded me why I’m so enamored with my husband and inspired to be the best Captain I can be.

Nick learned from a work associate how to properly cut and secure the rigging in an afternoon and singlehandedly finished without any mishaps as well as replacing all the electrical wires, wind instruments, lights, and replacing all of the pieces (chain plates) the rigging attaches to on the boat in one week. I swear there is nothing this man can’t accomplish! Kuddos to you babe!

With everything ready to go we cautiously proceeded with returning the mast to it’s proper place… IN THE BOAT! (It’s hard to have a big hole in the middle of your roof in winter!) And our new friend, Lenny taught us how to properly tune our rig to really make her sail.

That’s Lenny at the top of the mast!
Wow that’s high!
Putting the mast back in. At least we didn’t have snow on this leg of the journey 🙂

With the mast up and the rig solid, now it was time to test her out! Or more appropriately, test me out. And I was nervous!!! I have no excuse now… if I don’t feel comfortable captaining this boat under sail, then I don’t know what we would do. Knowing that I can’t run from my fears we untied from the dock and set out to wherever the wind might takes us for the day…

IT WAS AWESOME!!!

I felt calm and comfortable as we slowly cruised through the San Juan Channel playing with our different sails and learning about trimming and finding the groove. I feel like this path of adventure and learning is right on the money and being in-tune with nature, ourselves, and God makes the most incredible things happen.

I’m learning to embrace our hardships because they always lead to knowledge, new friends, and eventually the right path shows itself through the hard work and dedication. The hard times make you and your faith stronger!

When you’re not sailing into the sunset.

As I sit here and listen to a home schooling video about architecture and how buttresses act like a beautiful piece of décor on a infamous building, that made me realize that the building blocks of our life are so similar. We strive for greatness with plans of amazing feats, but we need to account for the forces of nature in our grand plan. We need supports for our masterpiece! We have forgotten to factor in… that nature rules all!

This is the second week we have put off our biggest project yet … pulling the mast and re-rigging and wiring our mast. Now to the average Joe this seems like a standard thing you do when you own a sailboat, but what most don’t realize is that the very wealthy people pay for this kind of work to be done while the working class does it themselves with the little knowledge and confidence they have from chatting with others and watching you-tube videos. So we now have a boat full of wiring, wind instruments, and lights just waiting for dear Mother Nature to shine her Valentines sunshine on us.

Not only have we had a hold put on our rigging project, but we’ve also been without water and sewage pumpout for 9 days. We have been reminded that nature and God are real forces in this world and that force rules all!

We have been walking the docks like normal through the inches of beautiful snow and hear many different versions of how the day is unfolding… it’s horribly cold, we might not have water for another 4 days, businesses aren’t able to open because their workers can’t make it in, and so many more! And though I know that some others aren’t as able as we are in this kind of weather I always want to literally shake people and remind them that there are thousands of other marinas with sunshine and warm waters and all you have to do is untie from the dock! Don’t let your circumstances make you unhappy!

I feel so blessed that my son is lit up with a childhood joy when those amazing lace gems fall playfully from the sky, and that we have the time to build a snowman complete with mussel eyes and seaweed mouth (not pictured). Those memories are even more engrained in ones brain because it takes a serious effort to get out and face the cold, and enjoy oneself so hull-heartedly that time just slips away.

Sounds like it’s time to sum things up and go make a cup of hot cocoa! Because life is to short to sit around complaining about what’s happening, you have to go out and make it happen… that’s right… what ever you want to do, make it happen and don’t stop until you feel good!

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