Sunday, October 28, 2012

Finding My Groove in the North Pacific Ocean

If this trip were a pregnancy, I just got through the first trimester.

Just like when I learned I was pregnant with our first child, this journey began with elation and a feeling of being invincible. At the beginning, the days took on an unreal quality, "pinch me,is this really happening?" as we sailed through and played in the rugged, quiet, pure Alaskan and Canadian wilderness where we saw countless magical creatures and natural phenomena. We visited remote villages and met new friends. The dream was living up to expectations.

This feeling of wonder lasted for the first few months. So did occasional seasickness. And a whole bunch of fear. During pregnancy when I really contemplated the fact that I was creating a human being, I thought to myself, "what am I doing?!?!". Here, too, I have wondered what we are doing, quitting work and school, running away from responsibilities to travel the seas.

As we slowly made our way down the West coast of the lower 48, a sort of whining irritability became my story. I started to feel bogged down by the day to day. The kids still bickered, rolled their eyes and slammed doors, just like they did at home. The long days and nights getting to the next port lost some of their charm. Chores needed to be done.

In the cruising world, this slog down the west coast of the U.S. is known as being the place where many cruising families lose their way. They arrive in San Diego beat up and exhausted and turn around for home before stepping foot on tropical beaches. It can be the make or break portion of the trip.

By last week (and coincidentally with three months under my belt), I hit a wall. At 8:00pm at the start of my night watch, I told Bruce I wanted to go home, I was tired of struggling with my children, I wondered why I was out here. I wanted to be WARM in a bikini and was still wearing long underwear at night. I felt like 3,000 miles had passed under our hull and we had gotten nowhere.

Once at the dock in Santa Barbara, I dragged Bruce out for a marguerita at a local watering hole and dumped on him. Talked about fears and hopes and dreams. Worried about our moody daughter, our sensitive boy. We looked each other in the eyes and told the truth. My truth was this: these fears and worries were the same ones I carried around with me on land, and they had nothing to do with this trip. I listened to myself repeating the same old anxieties, and decided I would try once and for all to purge them during this year at sea. Throw them overboard, set them free in the open sea.

The next morning I woke up changed, worry-free, happy. The first trimester was over. The nausea and fear were gone and in their place, a sense of belonging and of cherishing this time.

Now, I feel lighter. And full of anticipation. Ready to grow and nurture this journey, to live every good bad and ugly moment as if it were the last moment.

This is sounding like some sort of manifesto, I know, but the truth is I feel that charged up about it! I am finding my groove in my dream, something I didn't think I would have to do. I am growing a family with love and compassion. We are falling down and getting back up, wiping the dirt from our pants and moving forward.

We are creating something. We don't know what. It will grow and evolve and change every day. And one day, perhaps something magnificent will be born.

Sent from my iPhone


  1. Jen, very good description and honest narrative. As you know, I am someone who would never even contemplate or want to do what you and your family have been doing. So I am amazed at the entire process. Remember,though, if at any time in the future, you all do decide that "enough is enough" there is no shame in that. It is just another development that occurs (or doesn't) naturally. No judgements or recriminations...just a different step foward on your journey through life which is always movement onward whether on the sea, air, land or back home wherever home might be. I love you bigger than the sky and wish you all safe sailing into the new waters you now approach. I love the new email communication possibility and this blog. Add photos please when you have time.

  2. Jen, This was a beautiful description of your dreams, your fears, & your final surrender in dealing with all of it. I love beautiful writing and it is a joy to read your journal entries. Norene (& Lance)

  3. I just LOVE this post!! It is so descriptive and beautifully said!! Yay you!! It makes sense too, huh? I remember my trip to Zimbabwe and the first part of the trip was so crazy in terms of trying to get acclimated and finding I had actually come to Zimbabwe with all my stuff too. :) It was a good place to work it out... Sending you lots of love and so happy to (I think) have figured out how to follow you and comment!