Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Breath of Passagemaking

So many sailors cringe at the thought of overnight passages. Anxiety takes over them days before in anticipation of boredom, monotony, loss of freedom, imprisonment. Not me. I look forward to passages - and the longer the better. Sure, lack of sleep (we take turns being on watch 24/7) is a form of torture, but after a few days, one gets used to the routine.

And it's the routine that I embrace. Call me crazy. Back on land, living the 'normal' life, I would often plan for stepping out of routine, knowing that without the effort I'll be way too complacent in my life. Cruising on a boat, however, has me living out of my comfort zone, on the edge, so much so that it overshadows any routine we create. In fact, cruising feels much more like a life of constant challenge than I ever imagined.

Several years ago, I completed an exercise listing my top 'values' (states of being that I must have in my life in order to feel at the top of my game, fulfilled, living my best self) and one of those was "Order/routine with spurts of adventure and newness". Hmmmm. Without the passages, my life looks a lot more like "adventure and newness with spurts of order/routine". With a full house (or shall I say boat), I have little time while cruising to sit back and just breathe. Breathing is necessary to regroup, take stock, recharge. Without it, I'm just plain hyperventilating.

I often liken passagemaking to being stuck at home during a snow storm. It places your life on pause. All appointments are canceled. You eat what you've got in the house. You hang out with your family. You can clean out your closet. You can nap during the day. The whole world slows down. It's peaceful. It gives you time to think. What's next? What's been working and what hasn't?

Plus passagemaking allows me to do what I do well: organize. Sounds rather order-like, no? Are you getting it? (or as our friends Krister and Amanda say: Are you smelling what I'm stepping in?) You see, there's a lot out here that I don't do well: sailing still hasn't become second nature to me (although I'm getting better!), homeschooling is less than stellar (we have only a couple more months to go!), housekeeping is, well, a chore, and I don't have my work that I love and that keeps me fulfilled. But passages, if they are to go smoothly, require lists. And lists I'm good at. I create lists of watch schedules, lists of what the kids need to accomplish in homeschooling before we make the next landfall, and lists of what food we need to get rid of before quarantine at the next country takes it all away. And my meal plans are so beautiful - meaning we eat well and we eat healthy - and I spend a lot of my time checking produce to avoid spoilage, pulling out food that requires prep for the following day's meals, or baking bread to greet the kids when they awaken. Who knew that this would be what keeps me grounded while living on a boat? On land, the monotony of it would make me cringe.

And then I step outside at 2 a.m. on my watch to check that all is running smoothly, and right in front of me as the wind hits my face and I smell the sea air, I see a sliver of an orange moon rising into a clear starry-filled night. And I take a deep recharging peaceful breath.

-Barb, en route Tanna Island to Port Vila, Vanuatu
At 12/30/1899 00:00 (utc) our position was ??°??.??'N ???°??.??'E

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1 comment:

  1. One of the careers/pastimes you should seriously consider when you return home is writing - whether it is articles or a book/journal of this trip. I so enjoyed reading this post. I felt I was with you every moment of this passage, together with all your dreams and lists...
    Love and kisses to all...