The view has changed outside my bedroom window. I used to wake to a brilliant blue square of sky, neatly divided by crisscrossing lines and often littered with circling sea birds. Now when I open my eyes I see waves of green, layer upon layer of tree branches with bright bursts of blossoms and behind, small homes clinging to the hillside.
The sounds are different too. Before I heard the static of the marine radio, the grumble of panga engines, pelicans diving for a meal and on the beautiful rare occasion, whales singing. Now I hear whirring fans, chirping bird calls, crowing roosters and the muffled sound of the local water truck hawking their aquatic wares.
Even the smells are different. Salty breezes laced with whiffs of engine exhaust and bilge decay have been traded for the heavy scent of burning trash and night blooming jasmine.
By now you might have guessed, we sold Velella velella and moved to land!!! It’s all very fresh and new; there is so much to adjust to. Two weeks ago I showered by jumping in the ocean, now I stand under a soft trickling shower head. A few weeks ago Etolin ran up and down the decks, pulling fenders behind him and throwing lines overboard to “fish.” Now he runs around our new patio and plays with toy cars on a floor that is startlingly still.
After 12 years of ownership, we have passed the keys and the dock lines for sweet Vv over to a brand new family! The universe delivered us absolutely incredible people to take the helm. A couple from the Pacific Northwest, not too unlike our own but with older children and a desire to explore the Salish Sea on an Ingrid 38, found our boat online and through our emails, photos and blog, decided this was the boat for them. Thus began a fascinating and involved exchange of information and possibilities, ending in the couple buying the boat and Rob sailing her with friends 150 miles south to Manzanillo where she was loaded on a giant ship and transported back up to Washington!! (Watch the VIDEO Rob made to see for yourself!) The journey that took us months in 2011 transpired in reverse in one week. (Nasty gales for Velella velella on the way up too, poor girl, but happily no knock-down nonsense this time.)
So, she’s back in her natal waters! With new excited owners! And we are landlubbers, just like that. The process has had its ups and downs but it never lacked in intrigue. It can be scary to open yourself up to big life changes like this. We were not in control of if she sold, when she sold, or to whom she sold. And we had a pile of worries about what life without her would be like. Would we wallow in regret? Lose our sense of identity as mariners and boat lovers? Many of the shared values we treasure are deeply imbedded in the liveaboard lifestyle: simplicity, charity, community, frugality, interdependence as well as self-sufficiency, global and environmental consciousness and an interest in time spent unplugged and offline. Would moving back to land diminish our dedication to these ideals? We had to take the leap to find out.
We are only a few weeks into this new chapter so observations may be taken with a splash of salt water. But so far, all we feel is lightness and peace. The new owners feel like just the right people to take Velella velella into her next phase of life and we even received the unexpected blessing of a standing invitation to take her sailing whenever we are in the area. Knowing our children can see and possibly sail in the future the boat that has meant so much to us certainly took much of the sting out of saying goodbye to her. The other surprising source of harmony is the serendipitous casita our friend found for us to rent for our remaining time in Mexico. It is small, tidy, quiet and tropical and a perfect location for hosting our friends, whom we fretted would become distant when we exited the saltwater world. So far, the opposite has held true. We’ve had more guests and visitors than ever before and we are thrilled they are accepting our switch from boat to terra firma with grace and a dash of humor.
There are some things we are learning to navigate as we go. We try not to talk about the sale with boat friends too much, unless they ask, as we don’t like to introduce potential doubts into other cruiser’s minds about the decisions they face as boat owners. I’ve been questioning my participation in the online forums I love, like Women Who Sail and Kids 4 Sail, as I’m technically no longer a cruiser or “raising a child onboard.” But I guess it doesn’t invalidate my past experiences so I can still share, with the preface “As a previous cruiser…” I broke down and cried a few times in anticipation of the final night we would sleep aboard Vv and the bittersweet act of moving off and I waited to witness Rob’s moment(s) of sadness. I have seen none!! He seems to have processed the emotional side of letting her go long ago and sees only bright skies ahead, full of hours NOT spent on engine maintenance, head tinkering, water hauling, dinghy tending, weather worries and intricate problem solving for issues that rarely accept simple solutions. I can see his whole body language is more relaxed and he has a bit of a perma-grin. Our new apartment can get hot, stuffy and buggy at times and he just laughs and says, “Let’s go for a swim!” So we walk the five blocks to the beach and jump in! It’s certainly not as unique or romantic-seeming as pulling up by dinghy, but no one has to haul any fuel cans or worry about the shore break!
Being 30 weeks pregnant with a 2-year-old also feels easier on land. I think Etolin napped better on anchor, with the constant rolling and rocking, but my stomach wasn’t keen on it and my belly and all her accompanying pillows were starting to outgrow our bed. Every time I get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom in our new home (which is not infrequently), I marvel at how simple it is. Just sit up and then walk through the doorway? No crawling over sleeping bodies and then squeezing through a tiny (note: it wasn’t tiny before I got pregnant) hole to eventually tumble out onto the floor and then fold myself into the head? I also think my heartburn has lessened now that we can angle the head of our bed up just slightly. All of which tempers the heartache I occasionally get when Etolin asks, “Mama, where’s Velella velella?” and I have to explain again that a big ship took her to a new family to live on. We talk about it regularly and he now seems content to accept that we live in a “propeller” house, so named for all the fans on the ceiling. He was also pleased to hear that the new family had kids and those kids would have toys onboard. “Lots of toys Mama?” “Yes, lots of toys.”
As for Rob and I, we both see this time of not owning a boat as temporary. Already Rob is scheming about trailer sailors we could play on in the PNW and we both would love to bareboat charter when kids are older. Maybe we’ll even live aboard again, on a cozy motorboat that could take us up the Inside Passage to Alaska while staying warm and dry… Anyhow, no lack of dreams for the future! Between Rob driving whale watch boats, Grandma JaJa’s love of kayaking and paddle boarding, Grandpa John commercial fishing in AK and the rest of our family’s love of boats, we know Etolin and sibling will get plenty of sea time. No chance they’ll escape childhood saltwater-free!
Are we trying to have it both ways? Evade the stress and responsibility of boat ownership but enjoy the perks and pleasures of life on (and by) the water? Live a life of adventure and change while appreciating a foundation of stability and community? ABSOLUTELY! Why not!? At least we can try! And thanks to our friends and family who put up with our ever evolving plans and changing lifestyles, we feel love and support along the way. Without which, of course, we couldn’t do any of this. Thank you so much dear Loved Ones! You are our whole world!
So, here we are, adapting to personal changes as the world changes around us. We hope you too are feeling loved and supported at this time and know what you mean to us. And if you have a boat and need some deckhands for a day sail, you know who to call!
Love, the Beached Velellaz