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27 January 2008 | Exumas, Bahamas
27 January 2008 | Exumas, Bahamas


31 January 2016
Courage, kind of a strong word but I hope it grabs your attention. I use it as this post is about leaving, about actually dropping the lines, putting her in reverse and leaving for somewhere new for the first time.

I've been thinking back over all of our passages over the years. There are several themes to each one, let's call them the "life of a passage". It starts (the actual passage) with dropping the lines. Everything before this moment is safe and predictable. See Madison's blog entitled "Phase 2" ( I'll copy the text below and save you the cut and paste. She talks about the provisioning, fixing, storing, preparing, reading, talking..........every fun thing we do before leaving on an extended passage.

Dropping the lines though.......taking off into the unknown. That's another story. The worst time for me was leaving the Galapagos for the longest passage of our life, the 3000nm to the Marquesas. The first 48 hours were torture. All was fine on the boat, all were happy, just the feeling in the pit of my stomach. All the "what ifs", they were real and turning around was not an option. That time passed and we developed a routine and those 18 days were some of the best memories of our cruising life. Those first 48 were part of it.

Recently I found myself at Spicer's Marina in Noank Connecticut about to take of on a solo delivery to Florida. Prior to leaving Becky said in no uncertain terms, "if you change your mind just don't go, no biggie". I had been in New England for a week or so at that point. Had made the Costco runs, visited Vito and Madeline from Wanderer, met all the neighbors on the dock and had begun to develop the marina friendships that sprout up quickly among our community.

That Saturday was shaping up to be like many Saturdays on G pier at Spicers. The party boat was setting up across the dock and the beer was already flowing. The weekend "wash the boat" crowds were washing and the fisherman were cleaning fish. A BBQ was being set up on the dock and I was having a ball talking with everyone, asking questions, listening to stories, telling stories, the usual. The idea of leaving was just the furthest thing from my mind............and the closest.

For a moment I went back and sat in Ohana's cockpit alone. Looked around and really had a heart to heart with myself. It would be EASY to say the heck with it. Why spend countless hours alone sailing down the east coast? Why not stay, enjoy the weekend, put her up on the hard for the winter and plan to come back next spring with the family to do some more New England sailing? Perhaps put her on the market and see if she sells in the spring, our goal was met, was there really a "plan" for "what's next".

On the other hand I had an opportunity to do something few get a chance to do. Sail solo down the east coast with time and money to spare. I had the blessing of my long suffering wife (although there may be some argument that she likes me out of the house now and then) :-) The boat was tested, ready and comfortable. I had said I would do it and at that moment the switch flipped in my noggin.

I stood up, went to the panel and turned off the shore power and on with the instruments. Shore power cable off, engine on, test the gear (I always make sure we have forward and reverse before leaving the dock, that's another story). Back on the dock I gathered a few of the still semi sober neighbors to say goodbye and get some lines tossed. Why they asked? The party is just getting started? I really appreciated their desire to include me but it was time.

Lines slipped, backed on out, popped her in forward and went to engage the autopilot so I could go tidy up the docklines and NO AUTOPILOT. For a brief second I felt relief, I could pull right back in and throw in the towel. A brief second. Down below I found the culprit, one forgotten breaker for the autopilot motor and once in "O N" mode all worked like a charm. No more excuses.

That night I went a whopping 2 miles to Fisher's Island. That night I switched gears to cruising mode from marina mode. That night the trip began to open up before me and take on it's life.

The point of sharing this? An encouragement I guess to let your lines go. I've met so many people in marinas all over the place who are "so close" to going "but". There is one more part to get, one more thing to fix, one more deposit to make into the cruising kitty. I can't judge, but I can observe, and what I'll say is when in your heart of hearts you know you are ready but you just don't want to "drop those lines", drop them. The rest will take care of itself.

Have a blessed day my friends!

(the picture for this post is from that day just after getting the autopilot working and heading over to Fisher's Island)

From Madison Berger:

Saturday, 30 May 2015
Phase 2
A lot has happened over the course of 24 hours for us. Phase 2 is in motion and it hit hard today. What is phase 1 you ask? Sit down mortals, grab some trail mix, let me explain. Phase 1 of sailing is getting on board, cleaning the boat, stocking the boat, provisioning, driving around boating supply stores in a rental car, learning how the toilets work, fixing the engine, buying silverware and kitcheny stuff, febreezing the heck out of everything, the list goes on. Believe it or not learning how toilets work on a boat is a very hard concept for most people to wrap their heads around. When I was a little girl and someone new would come onboard, before anything at all I would give them a tour of the boat and teach them how the toilets worked. That stuff is witchcraft man. Phase 1 of sailing is super important because if your boat isn't organised and clean and everyone on board isn't prepared, certified and educated on why turning off lights is so important, you probably aren't ready for phase 2. We've spent a good week in phase 1. The time we've spent running through the isles of West Marine, Home Depot and Fawcett's boat store, is crazy. You'd think we were part time owners by now.

Phase 2 is where stuff gets real. You leave the marina and get a mooring. The boat starts rocking. You're seasick. You walk around in your underwear. This is when you know there's no turning back. Today I knew it was phase 2 because when I woke up my dad was gone, and my little boatie kid instincts said to make breakfast. Not to do any phase 1 stuff, just jump right into boat life and start the day because I know we had some sailing ahead of us. I made my dad spam and eggs and I made a bowl of pineapple for myself. When I was a kid spam was like a gift from God. Kel and I would smell spam in the morning and we knew it was someones birthday or Jesus had come back or something. My sister and I held spam on the highest pedestal in terms of breakfast foods. I realised today my childhood was a lie and spam is just dog food strategically placed in the human food isle. It was so gross looking but I made my dad a hearty breakfast and danced around the kitchen till he came home. We checked out the maps and I used the dividers to measure where we were trying to get to and how long it would take to get there. Learn math kids, stay in school, cause one day you might need to read a map and your life will flash before your eyes and you'll forget how to count to 5.

After cabin inspection and the kitchen and boat was all clean, my dad's friend and the boatyard manager, Ted came over to help fix our engine. He talked to us for a long, long time about life and politics and the history of the city. He's lived here for most of his life and he told us when he was a kid black people would live underneath the tiniest abandoned boats that were just left there on the side of the creek. They would crab all day, cook fish at night, and just raise their kids and live their lives. He said they were the nicest people and would always talk to him and his friends when they walked the creek like Huckleberry Finn or something. Keep in mind, this was a totally different time in history. The black people would flip the boats over so they could use them as shelter and a place to sleep. Eventually, in the immancipation proclamation, Abe Lincoln gave that land away to the black people. The white people didn't want it because of the bugs. What a bunch of wimpies. Ted was a cool guy to listen to.

The people you meet sailing are really the folks you'll remember your entire life. I have friends my age and I have some amazing people in my day to day life but the characters I really remember are the weirdos you run into on the water. I don't see them all the time, and I may never see them again in my life but I'll never forget the people I met as a kid cruising. We still have life long friends from Norway, England, all over America, and every corner of the planet. Not a lot are my age and I can't relate to any of them that well but learning about other people's lives and stories is really a gift and if you have the chance to talk to people, especially travelling I highly recommend it.

My dad and I drove to do a couple more errands to finish off the tedious and draining phase 1. We dropped off the rental car and got a taxi back to the boat yard. I can't stand taxis, it's like paying someone to kidnap you and your family. They might as well just carry candy with them, give you the whole experience. We got back to the boatyard and took off. We just sailed to downtown Annapolis and there were tons of boats out. It's a total sailing town, every single person that lives there owns a boat or at least works or crews on one. I didn't get behind the wheel, I just took care of lines and tying the boat on and off. When we finally approached the mooring my dad left getting the boat on the mooring up to me which wasn't too scary until we got up close to it. The notion that I'd never done this before kicked in and I was really nervous I was going to fall overboard or ya know, miss the mooring. I got the line on the boat on the first try though. It was pretty neat. If I accomplished anything this Summer, it was that.

I took a stellar nap. My dad tried like crazy to inflate the dingy but nothing was working. Our pump looked like something you would get at party and craft and it was killing him trying to blow this .. thing up. I woke up when it started getting dark outside and there was another guy in the cockpit with my dad. Turns out the boat next to us was from Wasilla, Alaska. I know, the world is so little. Once again, you meet the nicest people sailing. He talked to us about his life, and how he went to Wasilla high and some stuff about politics. Everyone talks about politics with my dad and I. Anyway, this guy, Nick brought a better dingy pump and helped us blow up the dingy and get it in the water. He blogs too. Check out I knew knot puns weren't lame.

My dad and I caught the water taxi into town to have some dinner and catch some of the Saturday night action. The city of Annapolis is crazy at night. It's filled with drunk, white people. Kind of like a family get together at my uncle Jason's house. We walked the streets and got some sweet tea and dinner at the cutest little diner. I'm a tea conniosseur and I'm all about sweet tea but sweet tea in the South is on a whole different level. This was like 90% sugar. It was diabetes in the cup. I could feel my mom in Alaska screaming.

It's about 12:30am here now. I'm wide awake and I probably will be for a long while. I have a lot on my mind. The one thing about blogging that makes me feel annoying is that it's mostly or all about my life and experiences. Which is okay, I understand the only people reading this are probably a little curious as to what a 17 year old girl on a boat gets up to on the daily. I cherish people that take time to tell me they read what I write and they find it interesting or funny. My favorite thing is when other people or my friends tell me about their day and what's going on in their lives so if you do things doing your day, or don't do things feel free to message me on any site you please and tell me about it. I'm on a boat, I have a lot of free time to listen. And I love doing so. Even when my nana writes to tell me about her garden club, or my friends back home tell me about their drunk camping trips, I love it. I soak that stuff up. Tell me about your awkward first dance, tell me about what you want to do in the future, tell me about how you picked up 5 cats on the side of the road and your mom said you can't keep them but they lived in your closet for a week because you couldn't part with them. Because that's someone's life and it's cool to be apart of that. People are such complex beings, and the day to day stuff that makes up their entire exitence is super cool to hear about. The connections you make, you could have for your entire life. All I do on this blog is tell you about the little bits and peices that I do everyday on the boat, and people seem to read it. I looked at the stats yesterday which is wild considering I can barely work the oven by myself. I'm like an old lady trying to use an iphone for the first time, I swear. I'm not as technologically savvy as I seem. Trying to use google maps on my phone is like trying to navigate the mars rover for me. My friends can testify. Anyway, It said over 400 people looked at this blog just yesterday, which kind of freaks me out but it encourages me that people still want to hear about other people's lives and jouneys. How cool. I hope all 400 of you are doing wonderfully. Hello friends and some friends I haven't met yet.
Hugs and kisses from the sea, xo

Safe Sailing,
Vessel Name: Ohana II
Vessel Make/Model: Hunter Legend 40.5
Hailing Port: Anchorage, Alaska
Crew: Paul, Becky, Madison and Kelsey
Started this back in 2008 and abandoned quickly for other options. Time has gone by and we're back! After many adventures across the Caribbean and Pacific aboard Ohana we are back on it aboard Ohana II. The idea was to find a simple inexpensive boat that Madison and Kelsey could sail. [...]
Ohana II's Photos - Main
These are some photos that accompany the article of how we handled finances while cruising.
7 Photos
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Just pics of great evenings with great friends.
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Some basic pics of her interior et al.
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A few pics of our first family catamaran that we owned and loved for a decade.
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Created 2 February 2016
Round two with our Kelsey! She got the best of New England!
16 Photos
Created 21 January 2016
Highlights from 40 days sailing with our oldest daughter Madison Anne. Check out her blog at:
15 Photos
Created 14 November 2015