There is a beginning, middle and end to this journey, and we seem to find ourselves suddenly nearing the end. As we slowly sail up the east coast, moving further north when the weather allows us, we have time to reflect on the past few years, remembering the good times and making lists, 19,972 nautical miles sailed, 23 countries and 74 islands visited, 7 seas navigated, two ocean crossings, 82 nights under sail at sea, and 13 things lost at sea, some recovered, some not (thankfully our sanity is not included in that number). We are adjusting to the changing times in the stops we make along the way, during these days of continued quarantine, in this world where face masks have become a fashion accessory. And adding to the list of lessons learned about ourselves and our surroundings while at sea, lessons that we will take with us back on land.
The skill set learned while living together in a small space on board comes in really handy when forced to be quarantined for long periods of time.
We have learned patience while waiting out the weather as we try to move closer to home, and a new appreciation of the difficulty to predict that weather when winds go from 0 to 50 knots in mere moments, teaching us to always be prepared for anything.
Having only short term memory is not a bad thing, every time we are back in rough seas and high winds we suddenly remember how uncomfortable those conditions can be, but we quickly forget again as soon as the seas die down and the sun comes out.
As things continue to break on board we are reminded that nothing lasts forever, and sometimes you have to be really creative with solutions.
Luckily we have had only a handful of scary situations while sailing, but we have learned that they always happen close to shore, sailing in the middle of the ocean with nothing in sight but water is the least scariest place to be, teaching us to be comfortable in the middle of nowhere, out on our own.
Collapsible dishes are great for taking up a small amount of space, but we've learned you can't keep bending without finally breaking.
It's important to watch which way the wind is blowing, when it's behind you the going is easy, but hard to make progress when it's right on your nose.
That funky smell that has plagued us since we moved on board, the one we thought we had finally conquered, has returned as we sail nearer to home, teaching us that you can have small victories but they may be followed by defeats, and sometimes you just have to keep searching for answers.
We haven't always been very fluent speaking the language in different countries we've visited, but we do usually find a way to communicate, new ways of connecting is a helpful skill in these days of 6 foot distancing.
Cooking onboard has taught us there are always substitutions in life, some are better, some worse, but the results are always interesting.
While being really uncomfortable at sea on long passages we've learned that somethings are just a test of endurance, to see how much we can handle, usually more than we realize, and have found it’s best to keep your thoughts to yourself until things improve.
The dolphins that swim near by, the pelicans that dive bomb for fish, the turtles that pop their heads up for a breath, remind us to keep our eyes open, to keep searching the horizon and not to miss the beauty around us.
And as I write this final blog I realize that it has had a life of it's own, giving me space to write it all down, to stay connected but also to chronicle our trip, the places and the feelings experienced. It's kind of like a friend, there to listen when I think I have something to say. I'm finding I'm not good at ending things, especially things we have enjoyed so much. After all these years of married life Tony still can't understand how it can take me so long to say good bye, when we leave a party, end a visit or phone call, good byes are never easy. Google photos sends us reminders, photos of one and two years ago, and we find ourselves transported back to those places, exploring the ports, hiking the trails, swimming in the seas, sharing meals and laughs with new found friends. And there are so many memories we have brought back with us on board, the pictures bought from street side vendors, pottery from small rural studios, cooking pots and utensils, jars of condiments and sauces, tins of fish, countless varieties of pasta, dried beans and salt to recreate those meals. It's nice that we can relive the past so easily, but we can't keep looking back. It is time to set our eyes forward, to look at the adventure ahead as we return back to Buffalo, to a new grand baby on the way and family weddings to look forward to, a fixer upper that will keep us busy until we figure out how to best fill the days ahead with new adventures, and reconnecting with the people that will continue to enrich our lives.
When they take a boat out of the water they say "it's on the hard", now I get that, some things about being back on land will be hard, Tony will miss being called Capt'in (Cap for short), and it may be more difficult to navigate our days during this time of pandemic. But it's always the people that help us through, sharing the good times and struggling through the difficult days together. And as we settle into life on land we're again reminded just how fortunate we are, fortunate that you have been interested enough to share this trip with us, we can't thank you enough for making it a much richer experience by being at our side. And we remind ourselves that each ending is really a new beginning.