30 January 2007 | Sitka, Alaska
We are working on getting all the immunizations that we will need. This is turning into a mini adventure in itself. After living in Bush Alaska for so long, it feels like I live in the city now. I forget in reality, Sitka is actually a fairly rural community. I had a great conversation with my physician. He is helping me put together a great medical kit, and also helping me acquire immunizations. It turns out that most of them have to be special ordered and will be quite costly. The cost is of course a consideration. I am just grateful that I started this process early because it looks like it's going to take quite a bit of time. So, I am finding it's never too early to get started sorting through all the requirements that will be needed clear into the countries we would like to visit. We will be tackling organizing the ships papers as well.
I Just Quit My Day Job!!
23 January 2007 | Sitka, Alaska
Wow, it sunk in the other day. I just quit my day job! The school board all voted to grant my request for a leave of absence. The reality is sinking in. I am actually following through to leave my career for awhile and start our circumnavigation. If my bosses ever read this, they will be happy to know how dearly I have appreciated their encouragement and support. This has been a difficult decision because they are such great people to work with. I doubt that I will ever find such a great situation again any time soon.
We have also had success with the new water tank. It is so nice to take a shower and get to choose when to turn off the hot water, not the very cold water finish! I do waste water during the winter while we have a water source close at hand. I know that this is just a "spoiled" time because finances dictate no water maker for the foreseeable future. Our prioritized big ticket items are: a new main, radar, Monitor Wind Vane, and an EPIRB. The EPIRB is last in the "must have" because we have an older working model already. We also have an electronic autopilot, but I don't trust it or any electronics because of its short life span and our ability to repair it. Our main items for the "nice to have" list includes: solar panels/wind generator, water maker, new compressor for the fridge, and a satellite phone.
Beyond the Point of No Return!
14 January 2007 | Sitka, Alaska
I did it!
I have officially declared that I will be leaving my job at the end of the school year. I applied for a a leave of absence. I hope I get it since it will give me a second chance if our plans go seriously awry! I suppose in reality it doesn't matter since it will be for only one year. With the high demand for special education teachers, if I need to work, I won't have troubles finding employment. So, my career is no longer something to debate at this time! I just hope I can return to this school district when this voyage is completed.
Now we need to focus on solidifying our itinerary for this summer, and of course getting "Tender Spirit" ready for cruising. We need to spend part of the summer in Alaska to put up fish and to visit family. We have some gear to install in Puget Sound later in the summer. The only time factor at this point is to leave the Pacific Northwest before the fall storms arrive. We are hoping to be in central/southern California before October and then cruise Mexico in December once hurricane season is over. Just when we head offshore and where is still the debate. Will it be the Galapagos, Hawaii, or straight a South Pacific island group?
Living aboard and cruising are two different mind sets. I have discovered the art of collecting stuff on board that has nothing to do with cruising. Some of it is a good thing because this is our home. Working and living on board creates an environment for things like kitchen appliances and other items that make life comfortable when we are plugged into shore power for the winter. We all need hobbies that add variety to our lives. I discovered quilting. I know I will have to make decisions on whether or not to take this cruising with us! The problem is weeding out our "treasures" to make room for critical items for the voyage. We also need to think in terms of living in warmer climates. I need to go through basic things like clothing. My wool and cashmere sweaters are great for Alaska winters, but will be bulky space takers in the tropics. I plan on keeping some warm clothes on hand, but I need to weed out "work clothes" and add some warm weather clothing......more tee's and less dress clothes! We will be weeding out a lot of useless items that were "must have" such as northern fishing gear and assorted gadgets. We have decided to maintain a storage locker for stuff that we don't want to part with, but makes no sense to take with us.
Happy New Year
31 December 2006 | Sitka, Alaska
Happy New Year!
May all the good from 06' follow you into 07' to mingle with new moments of adventure and joy!
I am both dreading and looking forward to the conversation I must have with my boss next week when school resumes. I definitely believe that I am fortunate to have the pleasure of working with this principal. She certainly puts our students ahead of any personal agenda and is quick to support both teachers/staff and parents. She is also a great support for our students with disabilities. So what's the problem? Well, the decision has been made and I promised her that she would be the first to know that I won't be returning next school year. We have decided to commit to our voyage. She has always supported and encouraged me. I will definitely miss her and the rest of the great people I've worked with along with the kids I am honored to work with. I am relieved that the decision is final and beyond the point of no return. I am very excited about the trip, but now a little scared as well. Turning my back on a successful career is no easy thing, but the lure of a life-long dream is too great, like a fish grabbing onto a well tied fly, who knows how this decision will shake out in the future!
We are busy replacing the hot water tank on the boat. A simple job has turned into quite the adventure in patience. The new tank is exactly 1/2" larger than the old one. This means all the brackets have to be rebuilt and new holes drilled so that the tank will fit. I am sure the old connections will also be off and copper tubing replaced as well as the hoses. I wish that manufacturers could stick with the same dimensions on standard items that need replacing! It's turned a simple replacement into quite the project. Unfortunately, this has become so common that I cringe when it comes to replacing gear. The good news though is that we will once again have hot showers on board in the very near future!
The Greatest Gift for Christmas
17 December 2006 | Sitka, Alaska
Merry Christmas! Winter is in full "bloom". I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday season. May joy and peace rain on you with gusto!
I must admit, I hope it continues to be a snowy winter here in the rainforest. I usually don't care for this "white rain", but it is endurable with the knowledge that I will not have snow next year. Yes, the decision has been made. we are definitely going to start our cruise as soon as school gets out. Soon I will be posting a very rough estimate on our travel routes. But that is for another day!
The Christmas season reminds me of how kind the world can be. It is a season to reflect on ourselves as a human being and how we can contribute to the world in a positive way. Often people think of great deeds and projects performed by those famous people we admire. I believe that the greatest deeds are often the small gestures that people do without even planning it. Those kind deeds to another person trigger mood changes and spreads further acts of kindness in pandemic fashion. So, for my greatest gift you can give me this year is to give the gift of kindness to someone every day this next year. A simple kind word to someone, build a new friendship, share, help a kid tie a shoe,help an animal, encourage the discouraged, comfort the sad, refuse to join in negative conversations or gossip. Spread good news instead of bad. The list goes on forever, but if everyone did one act of kindness per day, small changes will spread like wildfire and breed a better world!
With that, good day, and good luck!
03 November 2006 | Sitka, Alaska
I was so excited to receive my sextant in the mail along with Starpath's Celestial Navigation class. I can see they'll be teaching this old dog some new tricks! I am a firm believer that for every electrical/electronic system on board, we need a mechanical/non-electrical back-up. So, Nobeltec move over for some good ole' fashioned geometry. I want you to know, math was not my favorite subject back in my school days of yor, and I have limited knowledge of astronomy. Grant it, I can find Orion, Ursus Major, the sun and the moon, but that's about to change! I am learning a lot, but with the rain and more rain, I expect that taking the sights will have to wait awhile.
A Conversation with an Addict: OR The Cause of All This Madness!
27 September 2006 | Sitka, Alaska
It was my mother's fault. Of course my dad seriously contributed to my downfall. He admits it quite gleefully when pressed, giving an abundance of fuel to the flames. Yes, they ruined me beyond repair. My husband suggested that perhaps some sort of twelve step program would cure me. I did quit, for a whole year, but fell off the proverbial wagon. I blame my husband too. He does admit to sabotaging my best efforts. Oh, so you say I am setting blame onto others for my downfall, but it is honest and truthful as you will soon discover.
You would think that with having a close knit, loving family, along with accomplishing my career goals and dreams of obtaining the greatest job in the world that I would be content. Hell, I even have a working environment that is so good that people would kill to be in my situation! But I just can't quit!
I am reading in this writing class that perhaps journaling and memoir writing can have therapeutic results. So here goes. This is the general direction that these scatterings of journal writings and memoirs are leading down this strange path called life......
Hello, my name is Joan and I am an addict. I am addicted to cruising under sail. I know I can quit any time I like (right) if I want to. I guess. But not today, and tomorrow doesn't look too good either.
I first discovered I had this problem when I was applying to colleges. I applied and was accepted into all of them, but I really wanted to go to Hawaii. My mom suggested that I write out all the pros and cons for each university. Hawaii, Yup, sailing, diving, coral reefs, swimming, beaches, and did I say sailing? Yeah, I wanted to go there for all the wrong reasons, that is, if I planned on graduating. Since it was my hard earned dollars and I didn't have enough to linger through more than 4 years, I knew I needed to concentrate on school and get finished as quickly as possible. I ended up going to Fairbanks. There would be no salt water distractions. I want you to know that I did finish quickly because I hated being away from the water.
After my first year of school I went home to Adak for the summer. It was glorious getting off the Reeve's plane and inhaling the sweet aroma of moist maritime salt. How I missed that smell of home! I spent every free moment fishing with my dad or on the beach watching the water. Who cares if the wind was blowing forty knots, driving the rain across the tundra, and stirring up saltwater foam.
Towards the end of summer, my mom and I were having one of those "meaningful conversations" about my boyfriend. Yes, I told here important things about him; or should I say about his boat, and that he invited me to go fishing with him for a few weeks at a place called Ketchikan. While relating all this to her, she wisely asked if it was him or the boats and fishing that attracted me. I insisted that I loved him because he loved boats. It turned out that I fell in love with Southeast Alaska and sailboats instead!
Now when Mom and I talk, she reminds me that my addiction does have genetic roots. She spilled the ole' beans all right! You talk about enabling someone! She definitely succeeded in a major way. She spent way too much time discussing my uncle's genealogy research with me. Of course I took it in like rain soaking into desert sand. He had an easy time tracing my mom's ancestors because of the ships logs. That's right, Mom's side of the family turned out to be Nantucket Whalers going clear back to the early 17th century and ended right up to the time the whaling go shut down. At one time we apparently had a fleet of ships. My great grandfather was born rounding the Horn, yeah, that one, the dreaded South American detour before the canal was built. Contrary to popular belief, sometimes wives of an officer or captain accompanied their husbands on whaling voyages. These voyages often lasted three to five years.
Did I tell you that Mom loves to fish as much as anyone I know? Well, she routinely outfishes most of the people I know, including my dad. Dad said to me one day that that's a great marrying quality. He was enthusiastically cleaning a huge halibut that Mom had just caught at the time.
Now it wasn't just genetics that caused my ruin. Let's take a look at environment and up-bringing. This is where my dad comes into this tale of woe. I do want you to know that my parents are great people. They were excellent parents for the three of us. I have an older sister and a younger brother all one year apart. They were strict, made us work, earn our own way to college, cultivated a love of learning, reading, and yes, travel. Did I say they also took us camping, fishing, and boating?
Growing up as a military child, we traveled all over the world, and looking back on it, we always wound up on an island or at least in a coastal area. I was born in Puerto Rico, but lived on Hawaii, Okinawa, Adak, Puget Sound, and the beaches of North Carolina and Maryland. We always had saltwater at our doorsteps and boats. That is the scene; such a seemingly innocent environment! Now for my dad!
For as long as I can remember Dad read aloud to us. He was always reading something, and we were always begging him to read it out loud to us too. He read "Mutiny on the Bounty", "Kidnapped", "Treasure Island", "Old Man and the Sea", "The Cay", the Hornblower series, along with a zillion other sea stories and adventures. Oh and we always receive National Geographic Magazine, which I loved to read, and look at the pictures. That magazine seriously contributed to my total downfall as you will soon find out. As you can see, Dad certainly did his part in ruining me.
Oh, did I tell you Dad loves to fish? About a dozen times by now! Well, he started taking us fishing and camping before I could walk. He showed me a picture of myself and a large salmon that he claims I caught. I couldn't have been more than three at the time. Dad taught me how to fly fish, even on windy Adak days. He even taught me how to tie my own flies. I still love to fly fish, but I often wish for more wind and less trees!
I love conversations with my dad. He always has an adventure to talk about. It usually involves boats and the sea. My dad loved to talk about historical maritime history. He had me well schooled on the voyages of all the great explorers. I was always fond of Captain Cook, but believe it or not, Darwin and his voyages on the "Beagle" was my most favorite. After Dad retired form the Marines, he completed his degree in history and began a second career as a teacher. He must have been a great one because I certainly learned a lot about fishing, boats, and sea adventures!
My parents are retired now. They recently sold their last boat and bought a 5th wheel. Now they travel all over the country and spend the winters on a Mexican beach. Dad is currently writing a book on early fishing schooners of the Pacific Northwest.
The biggest dream, or should I say, my wildest, hair-brained idea I got from reading a series of National Geographic articles by Robin Lee Graham about his solo adventures sailing around the world in his small boat. I was captivated. I was only 13, but decided that I too wanted to sail around the world. Later I would read his book "The Dove" (instead of listening to my algebra teacher!). I also read "Maiden Voyage" by Tanya Abi about her solo voyage on a Contessa 26! I was hooked. Then it was totally down hill from there. I read everything I could get my hands on about sailing and ocean voyaging. Have you ever heard of Lyn and Larry Pardy? Well, for people I never personally met, their lifestyle and books doomed me to this addiction.
As sometimes happens to us, my life's dream to circumnavigate was nearly snuffed out during what I call my dark years of life's struggles that nearly crushed all hope out of my heart. I emerged from that with my life, and that chapter of it securely buried under a hundred fathoms of water forever.
It was a new life and a new day when I was shrimping full time and working in the schools. I needed a home and a fishing boat. I saw lots of boats for sale, but the only one, (a very tired, old wood troller) I could afford became unavailable. There was a long forgotten sailboat for sale, but that was a dream, I needed an income.
For whatever reason, I'll just call it fate and an amazing league of guardian angels, I wound up buying that Pearson 33 sailboat that fall. I had a home for the next foreseeable future. During the winter I worked hard on the boat, slowly turning the derelict back into a sailing vessel. As I worked and learned, that long forgotten flame flickered and burst into a bonfire with fresh oxygen. The next thing I knew, I was teaching at Little Diomede, saving for an engine and an electrical system for the boat. Did I tell you the boat needed everything? I mean Everything! It sat for 17 years without care. All it had going for it was a solid, dry hull.
It was Christmas. I was home; back on the boat, with a great boyfriend who would later emerge as the greatest husband one could ever have. Chuck showed me a sailboat that was for sale. I fell in love at first sight. I was on the boat for only 15 minutes and knew that I could never afford "Lightfoot". I did apply for a small loan, and put my boat for sale by placing a one time advertisement in the Wrangell Paper. With that, and encouragement from Chuck, I flew back to Diomede with just a far fetched dream of sailing off on Lightfoot. Yes, she certainly was a beauty, and her systems actually functioned! She did need some work, but at least I could safely leave the harbor. It's funny that somehow the wildest dreams actually become reality.
My guardian angels were putting in a lot of over time. My ad. reached a person in Idaho who bought the boat sight unseen. He did know what he was getting himself into. I told him all the gory details. He bought the boat anyway. As of today, he still owns and sails that boat. I even got the small loan, which at the time was no small miracle. Somehow by spring, Lightfoot was mine.
How I loved that boat! We (Lightfoot and I) sailed all over Southeast from Juneau to Hydaburg, from Sitka to Wrangell. While Chuck fished alone on the slow openings, I would sail. I learned a lot. I also gillnetted with Chuck and even married him!
Two boats were difficult. We needed one house (live aboard boat) to focus on. We agreed to sell our boats and by a trawler. Everyone says that the two happiest days of our lives is when we buy the boat and then when we sell it. I guess I am not most people. I put one sign up and sold my love in a week. I cried for a much, much longer time. I was glad that the new owner loves Lightfoot as much as I do. That next summer he showed me around on Lightfoot. I liked the work he had done. I sure missed her. He later told Chuck that he could tell I was still in love with her. I didn't tell anyone how much I really cried with a broken heart.
We were cruising on Shearwater, a 46 foot twin screw, beautiful Monk Trawler. We took her all over Southeast having a great time. With the visibility of a fly-bridge, and a walk-around bunk, I actually thought I might be able to kick the sailing habit. But No, Chuck the instigator had me check out a Hans Christian sailboat. No, we actually were on three that summer! I was surprised at Chuck's sudden interest, OK, shocked! But winter set in and we settled into a pleasant cozy life on Shearwater.
One cold wet February afternoon Chuck took me to see the Hans Christian we had boarded the previous summer. He found out that it was for sale. I looked, OK, I drooled. I fell for her as bad as I fell for Lightfoot, but the stakes were much higher this time. She was a beautiful bluewater ocean boat, perfect for an ocean crossing or a circumnavigation. She was also in great condition. There would be no boat building projects on this boat! Chuck, that instigator, had already made a deal with the banker before I had even boarded this paragon of canoe stern designs! See, there was no hope of ever curing the addiction to sailing with that kind of pressure!
On St. Patrick's day, Tender Spirit was ours. I failed the 12 step program. I am in love again. Tender Spirit is a dream to sail and one tough girl when the weather and water turns angry. She is also a comfortable home. We sold Shearwater without any fanfare. She was a good boat, but I never quite bonded with her. Don't tell Chuck! That was his babe!
We have sailed Tender Spirit on the outside and inside waters of Southeast. My life's dream is a goal that is close to being attempted. The question is, can I leave my dream job for my life's dream of circumnavigating by sail? It is a three to four year voyage. Chuck is asking that question with a cattle prod to make up my mind. He said I need to decide before life will decide for us. So, what do you think? Will I actually go for it and take the risk, or stay and enjoy the career? Predicting what will happen in the future is futile, but death is certain for us all. What will we take with us from this experience called life? What will we leave behind?