I haven't posted in the Ships Blog for a while, but rest assured all is semi-well...and life aboard continues as normal, for the crew at least!
If we're not going somewhere, I feel there isn't much to post about but the 'good news' is that the water remains outside the boat, the weather, at last, is beginning to get a bit warmer, and a plan is forming for the months ahead, and in what will seem like no time at all, we will be off to, uh, somewhere...
What are we doing right now?
Well, things are a tad hectic at the moment, and if you want to hear all the boring stuff, here ya go...
Usually, our season would be starting around this time, but due to the Captains' inability to find work, our bank balance is still a bit shy - BUT - I did find some work, just a few months later than expected and this will delay our departure, by about the same amount of time, would love to leave now but, yeah, we can't - it sucks, but it is what it is.
As money comes in from work, the sailing kitty is slowly getting topped up - but right now repairs are the current focus - just a ton of little things, and one big thing. The little things are a few damaged cables, a little filler and paint there, a bulb here, a fuse there, taking all the lines and giving them a good clean to get a winter's worth of algae/lichen off...maintenance-type stuff, easy peasy...
I'd also say the boat gets a bit grubby over the winter and moored as we are, we tend to get a bit of dust, dirt, and bits of gravel from the pier road, at some point I decided that keeping things pristine topside over the winter just wasn't going to be practically possible. But, in a few weeks, the topside cleaning will begin - everything wooden will get sanded and oiled, the gelcoat on the decks and topsides will get cleaned and polished just before we leave here, and she'll be all pretty again!
The one big repair we have is the bow, there is - or there was, some cast aluminum metalwork that served as forestay support, fairleads for mooring lines, and also performed triple-duty as a bow roller - it took some pretty severe damage during Storm Arwen, so that needs to be addressed before we can go anywhere.
Now, I've already removed what's left of it and it's now in the hands of the gods, and by gods, I mean 'marine fabricators' and actually, looking at the calendar, should be repaired in just a few weeks...I have faith that they will return it to its former glory.
We still have to haul out, we already have the paint, anodes, and so forth all ready for that, so hopefully nothing nasty is going on below the waterline, plus an oil change to do on the engine, give it a good run, maybe even a clean - and we should be all mostly good to go.
I also managed to get some new rope for making mooring lines and dock lines which we really needed, I've lost count of how many storms our current lines have lasted - can't have our house drifting away!
Splicing the new rope was interesting, never having spliced anything before, the results were interesting. It's a long story, but I can splice ropes now ;)
I also think the crew both need to go to the vets to get their passports updated, possibly a shot or two to get them both current and up to date...in case we decide to visit another country.
But right now, lots to do...
How are the Cats?
The crew is in pretty good shape, Chloe being a picture of purr-fect health and even Phoebe is doing well-ish for an old girl!
I do apologize if sometimes on the Facebook page there are more pictures of Chloe than of Phoebe, but the real story is Phoebe does a lot of sleeping these days - She's an old lady now and needs her beauty sleep, and a lot of it, apparently.
I think the last year was a bit rough for her, as she had quite a few age-related issues all at once that required changes to her food for both digestive and bladder/kidney issues, and that took quite a few months to dial in, and a few stokes have taken their toll.
She can be quite fussy with her food - but we seemed to have worked out a menu she can live with, and most of the issues have disappeared, although her kidneys are not going to get better...so, we'll see how this year goes, but every week and month is a blessing at this stage.
Having said that, I was thinking this well over a year ago, that she may not make her 17th birthday, but here we are at 18yrs old, so who knows - she has a great life, make no mistake - she only gets the best of everything! They both do!
She is due to go back to the vet soon, so I'll have a clearer picture of how she is doing then, but she seems to be holding up well - at the moment.
But I don't think we'll be crossing any Oceans, unless Phoebe cures herself, until then, we're staying within reach of a vet, should she need it.
Where to next?
The crew and I have some ideas, the 'tent poles' of a plan, and I've even made a few contacts for a few places - but it isn't always as simple as just selecting where to go.
It's a tricky one to work out from this point in time but it's more like something that reveals itself along the way. Gotta find a compatible location that pairs with a job for next winter.
And I guess that's how it's going to be until we find some alternate income, but I'm fine with working for it, it's no problem, and with the rona restrictions easing, work should hopefully be easier to find, and we're working on a few things.
Very soon, I'll be having a look at the job market and see what's happening, and just slowly make my way to where ever a job is, or something like that, perhaps not the 'free wheelin adventure' I'd maybe like to have, but it's what's necessary to keep going at present...no gimmiks here people...this is the real stuff. lol
So, we have no firm plans to pre-announce, but rest assured, we ARE going somewhere, I really don't fancy another Winter in the North Sea, not that the last one was bad, it's just time for a change, of sorts, I guess we're still working out the details - but the girls and I are 100% going for a big juicy trip. We have something special in mind, but I'm a little scared to say it, in case, I dunno - things happen, ya know. We'll keep quiet until we know for sure. ;)
3 years living on a yacht...some musings
We (the cats and I), recently passed the three-year mark onboard. I can't say it's felt like three years, but the time has passed, and life is, well, I wanted change - I think I got it.
I can't tell you what will happen if YOU spend three years on a yacht, I can only tell you what its been like for us - I just live with two cats on a yacht, now, working from place to place, and I don't know that it's remotely admirable, but when I think about it - what else would I be doing? And then, I think, no, actually - this is fine. Plus, I like sharing it online, its kinda fun, people seem to like it.
Sure, our boat is a little older, maybe not as nice as some other yachts, some stuff could be nicer, maybe a little newer - but I am grateful for what we do have, and stressing about what we don't have just isn't useful. I guess, I too, could be a little newer...the irony is, the yacht is younger than I am. :/
Throughout the last three years, I am more than glad, that I've been able to keep the crew safe, most of you have no idea how careful I am with the crew - but I would be a 'broken man' if I lost one of them due to carelessness, there would be no saving me from drowning in a sea of guilt - I wouldn't have them onboard if I didn't think I could keep them safe, and despite their best efforts - they remain safe!
It's been an interesting metamorphosis from land to sea, or house to yacht, it hasn't been easy - but at three years in, I haven't once thought about going back to a house, however, it's not outside the realm of possibility, but, for now, this too, is also fine.
I certainly haven't forgotten what it's like to live in a house - but sometimes I kinda feel like I do - It's just become soo normal to have to fill water tanks, or fill cans of diesel, or only buy things that are made of 316 stainless steel, adjusting ropes and fenders to new weather, having a hatch instead of a door, a deck instead of a roof, bilges instead of a basement, living on piers and pontoons, it's all just kinda become normal now, or I'm just more comfortable with it all, I dunno - getting difficult to imagine it being any other way.
No matter what happens, sailing will always be a pretty regular part of my life.
I've gotten to know this vessel fairly well, and have gotten to know what she and I can and cannot yet do, both enriching and very humbling at times. I've had plenty of time to arrange my thoughts and my values - to kinda figure out what I think I want, or more importantly and more honestly, what I don't want in this life.
But, I think you can almost become too independent. Wherever we go, we're always on our own - so, if I don't do it, nobody else will, and the less you rely on others, well, to be polite, the less motivated you become to accumulate acquaintances, right now, they just make saying goodbye, that much more difficult. Making connections can be a risky game.
And, I don't care what you say, nobody likes saying goodbye - especially when it's gonna be for a long while, or maybe even forever - and you never know which it'll be when you say it, you just hope you said it right, just in case.
My first year onboard is really just a blur, I have photographs from that time, and I rememberber it just fine, but I'd say it wasn't until the second year that I started to notice something changing.
The second year was when I really got into the groove of things, but before that year got going, I think I was suffering from some kind of block. Its funny, even been somewhere, but you're not really there, not really 'present'? - your head is just somewhere else, locked into something that keeps you from seeing what your supposed to.
I still remember being anchored in Loch Balnakeil for a few days, just kinda wondering how I'd even gotten there, not that I'd forgotten the route, but it just seemed like only a few days before I'd been working insane hours thinking that I'd probably never get a chance to do exactly what I was doing - when really it'd been well over a year since I'd last worked at that point.
I think I was having a tough time adjusting, and during this time, out of the blue, I had a long conversation or a series of long conversations (over the phone) with a friend that kinda helped move things in a more positive direction. One of those conversations you kinda needed to have but just didn't realize until after it was over, a rare kind of honesty can sometimes be powerful and very healing, like taking a full breath of air for the first time, or that it'd been so long you've forgotten what it felt like...or taking off a heavy wet coat, you just feel lighter afterwards...
It started a process that resulted in me acquiring a totally different perspective, a different way of conecting to things, kinda hard to explain to someone, let alone write in a blog, but kinda like opening a door you can't close, or don't know how to close, or a light coming on and clearing out the dark...whatever happened over those days has stayed with me along the way.
And after that, things really slowed down, and life got pretty weird for a while...the months that followed were filled with revelations and demonstrations, just a rush of answers...I really can't explain it, at times I just felt like I was glowing, fully charged, just pulling everything in like a magnet.
I still remember one dark starry night feeling quite overwhelmed by the glow and going topside for some air, but as soon as I stepped into the cockpit and saw the glowing bioluminesent wake churning behind us, a intense calmness came over me and I went to sit up by the bow. Then, a pod of dolphins turned up, darting all around the boat leaving their own glowing trails - the scene was so strange, it didn't take long before I started asking myself - is this even real life?
Something in me is different, or more accuratly, I managed to get back in touch with something from long ago I was almost sure was lost. The world just comes through differently now, a strange kind of clarity, the stuff you pick up on is quite peculiar...and no I haven't started talking to Wilson - or maybe he just doesn't have anything to say yet! ha ha
...or maybe I've been on this boat for too long - or perhaps an undiagnosed case of acute cabin fever is to blame for the mild form of insanty I've expereienced. But I do find myself getting answers from uncommon sources...
Another way to explain it might be that a sailor once told me that you could know a place very intimately, without ever having stepping foot on its soil - at the time, I thought he was a tad off-the-deep-end. But either, I now understand what he meant, or maybe I'm a little off-the-deep-end also, not really sure of which, could be both I suppose.
This year has been OK, so far, as I managed to get some work started in Jan, but let me tell you, November and December last year were some of the roughest months I've experienced for a long time, not that the cats noticed anything, they always have everything, but damn - those were rough months, in soo many ways, just so much disappointment, and I really felt it.
And even before that, a wasted trip last October, to a job that wasn't to be, was like throwing the last of our cash down the toilet - just such a waste - we could have done without that, but everything happens for a reason - and I think we're still getting this new life figured out, I guess it takes time to iron out the creases. If I can help it, that won't happen again.
Folks, changing your life isn't easy - I think letting go of stuff was hard, walking away from people, situations, personal networks, careers, starting over - all of it - wasn't easy, but in doing it, having gone through the process - I think I'm better for it.
Better for it, in the sense that I realised I actually had a life I could walk away from - and quite frankly, that doesn't say much for the quality of my old life - and in walking away, I learned I'd like to build a life that I can't walk away from, if that's possible, if I'm able to, I think that's where some value lies.
If you can't walk away, it isn't always because you have too much baggage, it might just be that your life is too rich to just throw away with the trash, sadly - my old life was - that can be tough to accept, even tough is that I remember bits of that life threw themselves out...rats off the ship, or something like that - amazing how quickly you're forgotten when your not useful anymore.
But also better for changing lanes, I don't think the road I was on was going to take me to where I wanted, although profitable, it lacked in more ways than I could ever explain. This new path is a little rougher, a little less trodden, certainly less profitable..lol.. but I think its going somewhere more meaningful. I really feel, now, that if you take the time to look and feel the world around you - you will see something else, something thats not in the guide books.
And, I just never know what's waiting for us at the next place; who or what can only be revealed by turning the page. Avenues upon avenues of seemingly endless possibility, some good, some bad, and no way of telling which is which - you just have to go and find out, and whatever happens, just happens - sometimes you win, sometimes you lose - it's just that kind of planet, you can't take it personally - and I can tell you turning the page can be hard when every word leaves its mark on you.
I think in slowing down and letting go, I managed to get something back other than the pigment in my hair...when I figure out what it is, I'll let you know, but its like a calling or a request, I really can't work it out, but there seems to be somewhere else I should be.
This year, I suspect some things aren't going to work out the way I'd like, or heck, maybe they will, or maybe even better - the world has strange ways, and things can happen without any real explanation, they just happen, and you can only deal with it from then on...
But at 3 years in, I still have no real idea what I'm doing, or where this is going, but I'm still compelled to live this way, still pulled in different directions - drawn to something, a place, or a point in time, somethings coming down the line...I feel it's bright and positive - either way, soon we'll be sailing and that can't be bad, right? Good or bad, we'll have fun on our way as things unfold, in the way life does...
Trying and failing is one thing, but failing to try, now thats something else...
Three years from now, I'll have to write a follow-up and see if I still feel the same - I wonder how these thoughts will stand the test of time - so much has changed in three years, I wonder how much more can happen in the next three... a life I can't walk away from is out there, I wonder If I'll have found it by then or will it be that for every step toward that life, it'll take two steps further away, just like the the old philosophers used to say....