One of our friends sent us a card (a real card – the things that actually arrive in
a mailbox with a stamp, not in an inbox with a subject line). She wrote “It
will undoubtedly be a transformative year. Your children will forever remember
that their parents were not afraid to be bold; that there is more to life than
work and asphalt; that the world is immense and there is great beauty to be
found.” Well said, Annie!
July 5, 2013. I had my first formal sailing class today. I hated it. I probably shouldn’t say that, given our planned trip. I’m hoping it is a short-term reaction to being overwhelmed. We were supposed to sail from Annapolis, MD up to Chestertown, MD for the sailing class. Instead, because of the condition of the boat (water, toilet and fridge all not working), we decided I would drive. I arrived in good spirits and excited to figure out this sailing thing. After being lectured for about 3 hours in what seemed like a foreign language (e.g., instead of a boat having a right and left side, it has a port side and a starboard side), five neophytes finally got on the boat with the instructor (I’ll call him ‘The Sargent’). He tried to seem easy going but he was pretty uptight – rather understandable given that he is trying to shepherd five beginners through the intricacies of undocking a large boat that costs much more than I make in a year – while at the same time keeping us from ramming said boat into other, much more expensive, boats.
I should say that I have some trouble in the physical world. I’m usually in my head, rather than in my body. I’ll find bruises on my legs and have no idea how they got there. I recently gave a doctoral student a ride and found myself going around the same level of the parking garage several times before I realized it. I have no sense of direction and don’t react well if I don’t have time to plan. This was well-illustrated the time Matt and I were hiking and came upon a 400-pound bear. I turned the corner first and stopped short in surprise. Once the shock subsided, I was then trying to figure out how to respond. What went through my head was that bears have terrible eyesight but an excellent sense of smell. Therefore, we needed to be upwind of the bear. I then began walking back and forth trying to determine if we were upwind or downwind of the bear and wondering how one determines the direction of the wind. Matt, being much better in emergency situations, simply grabbed my arm and got us AWAY FROM THE BEAR. Similarly, sailing requires immediate responses and is very much situated in the physical world. There can be very little time to plan. Like the time a boat was headed right at us during class and Sarge is screaming at me, “Steer to port! Steer to port!” – apparently thinking that the louder he is, the better I will remember the earlier lecture. What I yell back is something like “Just tell me ‘left’ or ‘right’!” Follow-up confession: I still can’t remember!
If we ever figure out how to connect our boat GPS to our blog map and you see the boat has gone in a series of small circles in the Atlantic, you’ll know I was on night watch.
We saw the fireworks above Baltimore from the boat. They were pretty
spectacular – we had a great view.
Matt and I are sitting on the deck with our iPads. A wondrous blend of
old world and new. Hearing the lap of the waves against the boat but typing on
this screen. The evening was a little stressful – the boys were tired, the
refrigeration doesn’t work – and we are still uncertain how the lights, water
and head (toilet) work. For now, we just walk to the marina. We were supposed
to leave tomorrow to sail up to Chestertown for my sailing class but we still
don’t know if the bilge pump works (the thing that would pump water out of the
boat if it suddenly started filling up with water – kind of critical). I
finally said to Matt that we don’t need to be in a rush. If we need a few more
days here, we can take them. That’s the whole point of this trip – to stop
rushing around! I think we both felt better after I said that – it created some
space, which is more of what we are after in life. As I type this, there is a
heron on the dock chasing some mallard ducks away from its territory – they
squawk in protest as they waddle away.
The marina where the boat had been stored by the previous owner said we needed to get the boat out of the marina early. We left my sister-in-law’s house in Baltimore in the morning and headed down to Annapolis (about a 45 minute drive). It was raining pretty hard but we were in good spirits. The boys were excited that we would be leaving the dock and Matt seemed pretty confident about sailing out. We got on the boat and had the boys put on their life jackets. They were already scampering around it like sea monkeys. We had called another marina right next door to see if they had space for us to dock there. We wanted to be in a marina while we loaded all of our stuff on the boat and figured out the basics. All we had to do was motor over. ‘Motor’ being the critical word. Matt put the key in the engine and pressed the starter button. Nothing happened. He did it again. Still nothing. He did it about 8 more times. We glanced at each other. He commented that it had started when they put it in the water the afternoon before. There we are – sitting in the water trying to start the engine of our new boat. Matt called the previous owner – she didn’t pick up. He called the boat broker who had negotiated the deal. No answer. Now we exchanged concerned glances. Matt finally walked around the marina until he found someone who worked there. Apparently there was an extra button that needed to get pushed to start the motor. Our first step on a steep learning curve…
The motor finally started and we were on our way. The boys loved it – and we weren’t even sailing. Malachi ran all the way to the end of the bowsprit and perched up there as if he had been around boats all of his short life. As we pulled out, the rain stopped and the sun came out. Not such a bad start after all.
We drove two cars down from Cleveland, OH to Annapolis, MD. Matt had all of the sailing gear in his (life jackets, etc.) and I had the boys, a week’s worth of food, sleeping gear and some ‘stuff’ in the other one. The boys and I made a number of stops so Matt got down there ahead of us – just in time to see them use the huge lift to put the boat in the water (we will post a video of this). On the way down, I asked Malachi how he felt about going on the boat (neither of the boys had yet seen it in person). He said, “I’m kind of freaked out. I’m really freaked out.” Joshua’s concern, expressed occasionally over the preceding weeks, was about falling off the boat. The two nights prior to leaving Joshua said he was scared of falling off the boat and that he didn’t know if he’d be able to sleep. I don’t know what he was expecting (a wood plank in the water?) but it was hysterical to see his face and Malachi’s when they saw the boat for the first time. They immediately ran all over it and said it was awesome. Joshua went down below and said, “It’s like a whole other world down here.” They are fascinated by their berths, the storage places, etc. When I asked Joshua if he was still worried, he looked at me as if I had said something ridiculous.
Matt had decided we should have a ‘trial run’ on the boat before the house was packed up – so we would get a sense of the space and what was needed. I think he also wanted to do it to set my expectations. He knows that my idea of camping is staying at a Holiday Inn. He had warned me that the boat was not completely ready and that not everything would be functional.
Matt spent five days in the sweltering Annapolis heat trying to fix the toilet. In the meantime, I was trying to pack up the house while simultaneously taking care of two energetic boys with short attention spans. We had a moving company come out to estimate moving costs and assess how much space all of our ‘stuff’ would take up in a storage unit. They said we were actually on the lighter end of the stuff scale. Really?!
Matt arrived home from Maryland demotivated and exhausted. He hadn’t slept well the previous two nights because of heat and anxiety. After recounting all of this, he looked at me and plaintively asked, “What are we doing and why are we doing this?!” Being overwhelmed by all that had to get done in order to pack up the house, I think I mumbled something comforting like “Umm… I’m not sure.”