The Beginning

When I was 11 or 12, my grandfather took my brother and I out to his sailboat to spend the night.  His boat was moored in Connecticut.  I don’t remember how big his boat was, but I can’t imagine it was more than 26 feet long.  I remember there was a cabin in the front, and the ‘dining room’ table came out to make bunk beds, which was really cool!  That’s where my brother and I slept that night.  We cozied in and swayed with the waves.  The next morning my grandfather woke us up very early and we got up and ate cheerios on the deck.  I know my memories may not be completely accurate, and may have blurred over time, but those memories are idyllic for me, and that time with my grandfather deeply cherished.

The reason Grandad got us up so early is that across the way from his mooring was the Electric Boat Company, today owned by General Dynamics.  They make submarines.  We got up early and ate our cheerios on the deck so we could watch the submarines come into the river.  It was amazing and memorable, to say the least.

At the time we lived in Florida.  Since we lived less than a quarter of a mile from the ocean, my brother and I spent a lot of time on the water.  As kids we would spend a lot of time at the beach.  We fished, swam, and went out with friends on their boats.  I developed a deep appreciation of the ocean, and the allure of her mystery began to grow in me. 

The ocean is amazing.  She sustains life with gifts of food.  Her currents help transport our goods across the world.  Her waters temper the climate and drive our weather.  And, she can also take life in the blink of an eye.  I remember a babysitter we had as children that drown in pretty shallow water, I think he got caught in a rip tide.  The ocean demands your respect and will remind you of her power in every wave and tide.  Whether you survive that reminder depends on you, the situation you are in, and ultimately, powers greater than us. 

As we were on the boat that night with my grandfather there wasn’t much rocking, although I remember loving that gentle sway.  We were tied up at slip at a marina, well protected from the elements.  I vividly remember the sounds of the waves hitting the boat.  The intoxicating smell of the salt air as we ate our cheerios.  Watching those submarines cut silently through the water.  It was in that moment that I became enamored with the ocean.

It was around that time too that my grandparents gave me a copy of the book, “The Boy Who Sailed Around the World Alone”.  The book recounted the story of Robin Lee Graham, a 16-year-old from California, and his five-year circumnavigation of the world.  While there’s not a lot of specifics that I remember about the book, I remember thinking I wanted to take on that challenge.  Without a doubt, that story shaped my dreams and started a fire in me.

Not long after that we moved to Germany, where, as a middle schooler, I would sketch out sailboats with living quarters.  I was trying to figure out the best layout for a boat.  I’m pretty sure now that if any of those ideas were ever found by a boat architect, they’d laugh themselves silly!  But, as a young teenager, it was a lot of fun.  It kept me connected to the ocean and that fire in my belly to sail the world continued to grow.  I remember someone looking at one drawing and asking what I was doing.  When I told him I was designing a boat to sail around the world in, he didn’t laugh at me!  But he did jump to all of the dangers of sailing.

Life then did what life does.  I graduated high school in North Dakota and went on to become a teacher.  I fell in love, got married, and had a two amazing kids.  I bought a house and joined the great American middleclass life.  This life has afforded us some amazing opportunities.  Living in Wyoming, there are things that I’ve seen and done that I would’ve never had the chance to do anyplace else.  The Tetons are truly spectacular and having had the opportunity to go elk hunting will always be a highlight in my life.  But, that fire still burns and the ocean still calls.

As we’ve talked about the live aboard life, I’ve felt something awaken in me that I haven’t felt in a long time.  There’s an excitement, and a fear.  Not the kind of fear a child has of monsters under the bed, but fear nonetheless.  It’s the fear of the unknown.  Of all the things that could go wrong.  I remind myself, there’s always a path to get through the unknown.  And, there’s tremendous excitement!  Of knowing we can conquer the unknown and live in harmony with the ocean.  The excitement of living out a childhood dream that I long ago dismissed as fantasy. 

I’m not at all sure what our sailing adventures will bring.  I long to fulfill that dream of a circumnavigation, but I’m not sure if we will complete that or not.  I’m not even sure if we will love or hate the live aboard life!  We might miss life on land, or, we may sail away and never look back.  What I am sure of is the excitement, and sense of peace, and feeling of being alive that pursing this dream brings. 


Our New Home?

Change can be exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.  Considering the significant change we are contemplating, what kind of boat will we make our next home?  This question ranks right up there with “How much money do we need?”, and “Where are you going to go?”  Fun fact… I haven’t been on a sailboat in over 30 years!  And the one-time Sandy was on one, the boat heeled so much she swore she’d never set foot on one again!

So, what kind of boat are we considering for our next home?  There are definitely options on this.  Consider a traditional monohull.  This is the type of boat most people typically envision when they think of a sailboat.  They are narrow and sleek, the keel is deep, and living spaces are mostly below the waterline.  If you want to see a tour of a monohull, check out this video from S/V Delos.  This S/V Delos video gives a good tour of the boat, the systems, and living quarters on the boat.  S/V Delos is a 53’ Amel Super Maramu sailing ketch boat.  This design has a width of 15’ and all of the interior living space is below deck, sleeping quarters, head, galley, etc.  All that is down below.

This is S/V Delos, picture is from https://keyassets.timeincuk.net/inspirewp/live/wp-content/uploads/sites/19/2019/12/brady-trautman_st-barts-drone-0018_356520651_613161751.jpg

Another popular option is a sailing catamaran.  These boats have two hulls, and they are typically wider than a monohull.  In between the two hulls, there is an open space that typically encompasses a living/dining area, galley, and charting station.  These living quarters are above the water at the same level as the boat deck.  Some catamaran designs do have the galley down below in a hull, opening the salon area for larger living/dining room area.  The sleeping quarters, heads (bathrooms), desk/bookshelves are down in each hull.  Sleeping quarters are obviously limited by the size width of the hull, although the size boat we are considering easily accommodates queen size beds.  Here’s a great tour of a catamaran from Sailing Nahoa.  Ben and Ashley live aboard an owner’s version of a Lagoon 410.  This catamaran is a 41-foot-long boat and is approximately 23 feet wide.

This is S/V Nahoa, credit for the image is from sailingnahoa.com

Trimarans, also known as double-outriggers, are another sailing vessel option.   These boats have a main hull with two smaller outrigger hulls attached to act as a float.  Trimarans offer a wide living space above the water line, with additional sleeping quarters in the outrigger hulls.  Here is a virtual tour of a beautiful 50-foot NEEL Trimaran that Sail Oceans owns.  Trimarans have a many great features, and while we have considered this option, it will likely remain out of our price range.

Neel 50 Trimaran, credit for the image is from oceanshaker.com

There are a lot of advantages and disadvantages to each style of boat.  This video, from The O’Kelly’s, talks a bit about the advantages and disadvantages of each.  Ultimately, this really comes down to personal preference.  One of the key differences most sailors agree on, is that when you are at anchor, catamarans are a bit more stable because of the wider design.  Another advantage that is appealing to us personally is the panoramic windows in the salon of the catamaran.  This gives you a good view of everything around you and lets lots of light inside the salon.  And to be clear, we recognize this can also be a detriment in the tropics as you try to keep your living space cool!

The advantages of monohull also abound!  Most are related to the actual sailing.  It is far easier to sail upwind in a monohull.  Many liveaboard cruisers have pointed out that 90% of your time is spent at anchor, but of course even in that 10% when you are sailing, that can make a world of difference in terms of where you go.  Another big advantage of a monohull is that you have one of everything instead of two, which means you have less maintenance costs.  Only one engine, only one hull…you get the idea.  That is a big consideration too.  I’ve also seen some monohulls with a dingy garage in the back, very cool feature.  The dinghy is out of the way, nothing hanging off the back, keeping clean lines on the boat.

Maybe things will change for us when we start to walk on some boats, but for now we really like the idea of a catamaran.  The stability at anchor, the extra width and living space really are appealing.  So is the idea of sitting up top and seeing what’s going on around you with relative ease.  We also really want a boat with the galley up.  We’ve made 4 houses our home over the past 22 years, and in each one the kitchen has been open to our family room.  We love the connectedness, and don’t foresee that changing just because we live on a boat.  Galley up means that when one of us is cooking, we can still talk to each other.  There’s also just something about the look and feel of catamarans that we really like.  Of course, looks aren’t everything! 

We will start our sailing journey learning the ‘ropes’ on a monohull this summer and are planning a trip to Florida next Christmas to set foot on many different boats.  From there we will decide and select our next home.  For now, though, when we peruse Yachtworld.com, it’s the catamarans that we search for!

Change your Question

               When I was in the seventh, eighth grade, I bought a Canon T50. I had a 35mm to 55 mm lens and a 75mm to 200mm zoom lens as well.  It came as a package is my recollection.  I had that camera until probably the early 2000s when it finally died.  As we have been going through things, I have been looking at some of the pictures I took when I was that age, and have a few good chuckles because the pictures were awful.  Angles were wrong, light was bad, the subjects weren’t really clear, they weren’t great.  Over the years, I continued to take pictures but never really did much with it.  I never really tried to learn much about photography or how to improve my photography. 

               Life happened, my camera died, we bought some good digital cameras and they were great for things like birthday parties, the holidays, etc.  Again, I never took the time to learn much about good photography.  Then we decided to jump into this idea of traveling for the next however long and leave the 7:15-3:45 grind (that’s the education version of 9 to 5).  So, I’ve been working to develop my photography skills and photo editing skills as a potential source of additional income.

               What I have really come to enjoy is landscape photography.  I enjoy being out in nature and seeing what’s there.  Not too long ago, I was looking at a couple of websites to see if there were some exercises that I could do improve my landscape photography.  One website had several things to do, but the one thing that jumped out at me that the website suggested was when you are looking at a subject to ask the question, “What is this about?” rather than asking “What is this?”  So, when we went out to Vedauwoo the other day, we were looking at the rock formations and rather than just saying “Oh, that’s a cool formation.”  Sandy and I really looked at the various formations and parts of formations and asked, “What’s that about?” 

               As we started asking the question, “What’s this about?” We were looking at everything and asking this question.  I think I can honestly say that it changed a bit of how I framed my shots when I was taking pictures as well as when I have been doing the editing.  As I look the picture, I looked more at what was around the formation that I was taking the picture of, rather than just looking at the formation.  As I have been editing the pictures, I really look to reinforce what the picture is about, rather than just making it ‘look nicer’.

               The other thing I learned on that trip was to have everything you need to try new things.  One thing I have read about, but never tried is called focus stacking.  As you put a bigger lens on your camera, there’s not as much of the field of view that can be in focus.  So, you take a couple of pictures with different parts of the field of view in focus and then have Lightroom or Photoshop combine them so that everything is in focus.  I didn’t have my tripod with me, so I didn’t try it with a picture.  After I got home and looked at it, I really wish I had done that.  It’s a good picture, but if I had the trees in the foreground in focus, it would have been much better.

               But I didn’t have my tripod and with focus stacking you really need to have that stability so that everything just lines up perfectly.  I’ll be ready next time; I won’t go without my tripod again!

               Both of these ideas, being ready to try something new as well as changing your question really are more than just about photography, they are about life too.  I’ll expand on that maybe next week.  But for now I’m going to leave you with some of the pictures I took last week.  I hope you enjoy them.  If you do, you can always go to Instagram and follow both of my accounts there, @kona.thegordon_setter and @the.greatwander. 


YouTube is not sailing.  I know this.  It’s a slightly romanticized version of living on a boat, but there’s a lot that you can’t learn from YouTube, like when to reef your mainsail.  Or how to turn the boat to minimize the slapping of the waves on the bridge deck.  There’s a lot that you have to do on the water to learn how to do it.  There are a few things that you can learn though.  One is being prepared.  I am pretty sure that every YouTuber that we watch has had some kind of problem while in passage.  They are thousands of miles from land or from other boats and they have a problem.  Sometimes it’s been a leaky escape hatch, so water in seeping into the boat and you have to figure out how to seal the hatch, in one case the boom broke off of the mast.  Or the watermaker has gone out. It varies, but something is going to break in an inconvenient time or location.  It’s bound to happen.

One system that gets a lot of use is the engine.  Even on a sailboat.   Sailing Nahoa spent most of the passage from Thailand to the Maldives running their engines because they were sailing upwind most of the time and couldn’t get the right angle to keep the sails up.  Anchoring pretty much requires engines.  Even though you don’t want to use your engines, you are going to have to.  And engines break.  Even with regular maintenance and upkeep.  There’s a chance that something goes wrong.  So you need to know how to fix it.  We know that we need to learn how to maintain our engines.  As I said before, I can change the oil in my car, but beyond that, there’s not a lot that I do.  When it comes to diesel engines…well, that’s a big mystery!

One Life has two Yanmar diesel engines onboard.  One in each hull.  Because of this we did some specific looking for a place that offered marine diesel engine maintenance courses.  Turns out that there really aren’t a lot of places that offer the kind of class that we were looking for, one place that did offer a diesel engine maintenance course though is the Victoria Sailing School.  That’s where we did our 101 and 103 courses.  It’s also only 2 hours down the road.  We are pretty fortunate.  We signed up and headed down to Denver for the class.  When I say we are fortunate to have the VSS just down the road, we had people in our class from Georgia, Texas, and Connecticut.  So, people travel from all over the country for this class.

Day one was pretty straightforward.  Here’s the book, lets look at some engines, let’s get an idea of how this works.  A little hands on stuff, but not much.  At the end of the day we started both engines.

Day two, we walked into the shop where the class was held and the instructor said, “I don’t know what happened overnight, but these engines don’t run.  Figure it out.”  So, we started with the electrical system on engine number one.  We discovered some problems with the key switch.  Fixed that by replacing it.  The engine still wouldn’t start.  So, we checked the fuel system.  Found out the lift pump didn’t work, replaced that, the fuel filter, and then had to check the air system.  Oh, yeah, the impeller for the raw water cooling system was missing as well.  That had to get replaced.  All of this was done by the eight of us.  We took everything apart and fixed pretty much every system on the engine. 

On the third day, we did a bit more advanced stuff, like rebuilding the injectors and checking the gap on the valves and how to adjust the gap if need be.  With the injectors we did a couple of pop tests to see what the pressure was on those.  One thing that is not an uncommon occurrence on a marine diesel engine is to have the impeller blades come off and get stuck at the entrance to the heat exchanger.  There’s a hose that runs from the impeller housing to the heat exchanger, and we were able to take that off to inspect for impeller bits. 

I’m clearly not an engine expert.  But right now, I feel like, between the three of us, we can do a lot of troubleshooting and work on the engine pretty effectively.  Would I feel comfortable installing a new/larger alternator to have a boost for charging batteries, probably not.   I think I’d call in the experts on that.  But, if the engine isn’t starting, or if we don’t have exhaust water coming out, we can troubleshoot some of the basics of that and probably get things running again.  Or at least recognize when things are out of our league. 

Victoria Sailing School did a great job of removing the mystery from diesel engines.  We’ve got a handle on how to trace potential problems in the fuel system.  Changing an impeller isn’t as daunting as it was when I saw Sailing Sweet Ruca do it.  I have seen Ben from Sailing Nahoa in the aft cabins doing engine work and I remember thinking; well, I guess I’ll figure out what to do when the time comes. Now, though, I have the confidence that I really can figure out the problem when something comes up.


One of the most frequent questions I get is, “Are you afraid of pirates?” or “I’d be worried about pirates, aren’t you?” Piracy is defined as the act of attacking or robbing ships at sea.  So, what I think I’m being asked is aren’t you afraid of someone attacking you or trying to steal your boat?  The short answer is yes and no.

Generally speaking, I’m no more worried about that, than I am someone breaking into my house right now.  Do I lock my door at night, yes.  Not that I have much in the way of personal possessions anymore, but I don’t run around advertising everything I have that is of value.  Of course, in my neighborhood, I have houses to the left and right of me, across the street, next to my backyard.  Like any city, I have people all around me.  Not every anchorage will be empty, but you can bet we are going to be looking for empty anchorages, not because of safety but because of solitude.

Even in anchorages where there are people, where plenty of other boats are around, I don’t know that I’m too worried.  In my short experience in the San Juan Islands, people kept to themselves for the most part. As we expand our travels, there are places that cruisers say, “Make sure your outboard is secured before you wander on shore.”  Take some basic precautions to protect your belongings and generally, I think you’ll be ok.

When you cross an ocean, generally you’re not going to be running into a lot of other boats, though you will see some, because most people use the same general routes at given times of year.  Piracy there is not as big a concern. 

When does piracy become a concern then?  Believe it or not, there’s a map of the world that tracks real time incidents of piracy as they are reported.  Most of these are commercial vessels; that’s where the money is after all.  But using that map, plus a couple of other resources for cruisers, there are parts of the world that you get an idea of avoiding or if you can’t avoid them, being more cautious.  Parts of the western Caribbean, the Horn of Africa, even a few places along the west coast of Africa.  Some of the southern portions of Philippine Sea are also notable for piracy.  We will try to avoid those areas.  When we can’t, there are precautions you can take. 

Some folks will turn off their AIS system, which broadcasts the location of your boat.  Turn off your running lights at night.  Keep an extra set of eyes on the horizon and give other ships a wide berth if possible.  Sailing Nahoa, SV/Delos, and others have done videos about some of the protective measures they take in case of an actual boarding.

I’ve had many suggest that firearms are a must for this adventure because of piracy.  The reality of this is though that that’s not really practical.  Laws on that matter vary greatly from country to country and you really don’t want to be considered a smuggler. But there are other things on board that can be used for defense, if need be. 

I recognize that piracy is real, but generally speaking from everything I’ve seen and read, the boating community is pretty supportive of each other.  Honestly, I’m a little more worried about rogue wave than I am piracy, does that mean I will be cavalier and not keep a close eye out if we decide we are going to hit the Horn of Africa, no.  But that’s maybe an area we will avoid because if you look at international piracy maps, that’s a high risk area. 

 Being cautious is important, there’s no doubt about it.  But at the same time, I don’t want to let caution turn into a fear of something that isn’t that high a probability.


Last weekend we traveled to Connecticut to attend my grandmother’s funeral.  She was 95 and died peacefully in her sleep.  Although I hadn’t seen her in 5 years, I did talk to her several times a year, probably not as much as I could have, but we did talk. Reflecting back, her initial reaction to our plan to sail is a little amusing.  When we first told her what we were planning on doing, she told us we were crazy!  She said that something on my grandfather’s boat was always breaking and that sailing wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.  Shortly before she passed, my uncle shared the blog with her.  Her response, “I’m so glad they are doing this now, while they are still young enough.”  It’s nice to hear that she thought it was a good idea, and her blessing means a lot to me.

Losing a family member is hard.  Even though I hadn’t seen my grandmother in several years, it’s still a big loss.  I know I’ll never call her again, or see her again.  I actually hadn’t been able to speak with her in several months due to her significant hearing loss and her hearing aids no longer allowing her to hear over the phone.  At some point in our sailing adventures, I know we will be in the northeast US.  It saddens me to know we won’t be stopping to see her.

As we get closer to our departure from our current home, I think about some of the other losses that we are all going to experience.  While these losses may not be as significant as the death of a family member, they are still losses.  And, even though we are going to gain a lot, there are still things that we are giving up.  There will still be grieving for the loss. 

Over the past couple of years our youngest has been coming to CrossFit with me, almost every morning.  It’s been amazing to watch him, starting at 15 and now 17 years old, get up at 4:30 AM every day to go workout.  There’s the obvious thing, right?  He put is phone down and went to the gym?!  Another thing I have really enjoyed is watching him grow as a person.  When he first started coming to the gym with me, he was pretty quiet.  But as he continued to go, I’ve seen his sense of humor blossom and watched him mature in his ability to relate to adults.  He now knows how to give some trash talk, and how take it.  But more importantly, he also knows how to provide genuine encouragement to the other members as well.

I am going to miss seeing him grow in that environment.  But truth be told, I’m also going to miss the comradery and friendships that I have developed there.  My fellow CrossFitters have provided encouragement, help, and friendship over the years.  Growing up in a military family I learned at a young age to say goodbye to friends.  But, it’s never easy, no matter what new and exciting opportunities await you.

There is also the loss of our relative ease to visit family.  Our oldest is in their 2nd year of college and is only 45 minutes away right now.  There’s comfort as a parent in knowing we could be there quickly any time we are needed.  Once we are in Florida, or Maine, or Nassau, it’s going to be harder to see them.  I don’t think we see enough of our oldest now, and it’s only going to be harder.  Without a doubt we can dock at a marina and fly back to Wyoming to help out, but what is now a 45-minute drive will become a 2-to-3-day trip.  The same is true of our extended family as well.  There’s definitely loss there. 

There will be a loss of stability, both literally and figuratively.  The land is stable, there will be times when the waters in an anchorage are not smooth and stable.  We currently have stable sources of income, that will change dramatically after I resign and Sandy closes her business.  There is a sense of stability and predictability in our current lifestyle.  We know our daily routines, we know our favorite coffee shops, restaurants and brew pubs, and we know where the grocery store and gas stations are.  Our next steps hold many unknowns and a profound loss of stability.

There is a part of me that is fearful of the process of grieving these losses.  Grieving can be difficult, emotional work.  We have invited this change, and therefore invited this loss and grief into our lives.  We made the decision to pursue this dream because we are looking for adventure, the opportunity to see the world, and to grow as individuals.  We do not know what the future holds for us, but we embrace the opportunity to grow as we grieve these current losses.

One Lobster

About five years ago, a spearfisherman was fishing for lobster near his anchorage in the Bahamas.  Diving in the turquoise blue waters that surround the Bahamian Islands, he had a very productive day.  After returning to his catamaran, he and his wife knew that they had an extra lobster that they wouldn’t eat that day.  After some debate, he jumped back into his dinghy and motored over to a neighboring catamaran in the same anchorage, and offered the couple on board that boat the lobster.  From that moment on, a lifelong friendship was born.  Every year the two couples would plan to be in the same anchorage at least once, if not more during season.  They would meet and sit in the cockpit of each other’s boats and enjoy meals and great conversation as the sun set in the evening.

Jump ahead to 2020.  Sandy and I start talking about what do we want to do with our lives after we done with living by someone else’s schedule.  After talking about the idea of sailing and potentially living on a boat, we did what everyone else does when you want to learn something new, watch YouTube!  We found several YouTubers sharing great experiences, and began to follow and subscribe to some of them.  The O’Kelly’s quickly became one of our favorites.  And, as fate would have it, they spent many cruising seasons in the Bahamas.

About 6 months ago we decided to work with the O’Kelly’s.  The O’Kelly’s have a consulting business for people who want to make the jump from land life to sailing life.  In our first meeting, The O’Kelly’s asked us several thought-provoking questions, shared about their time as live-aboard’s, answered innumerable questions from us, and offered lots of encouragement as we took our next steps.  At one point in the conversation a comment is made about the courage it takes to make this type of change, and that we will just know when the time right.  That night, as we talked, we agreed the time was right and we were ready to take the next steps, which would be big ones.  Six weeks later our house, the vast majority of our belongings, and one vehicle were sold and we were settled in a rental.  That was the middle of August 2022, and of course the plan was to wait until spring 2023 to really start looking for a boat.

Wait a minute, we purchased One Life in November 2022, what happened to the spring?  As we continued to work with the O’Kelly’s they helped us identify our needs and wants in a boat, helped us narrow our search focus, and taught us how to look at boats critically.  They told us that we won’t really find a boat, the boat will find us.  And they semi-jokingly assured us that the right boat will come along at the wrong time.  Off we went to peruse YachtWorld and look at potential boats for the next 6 months or so.  We made plans to stay in touch with the O’Kelly’s via email and possibly have another meeting when we are closer to really buying the boat, maybe in February or March. 

A couple of weeks later Sandy forwards an email to me from the O’Kelly’s.  They are letting us know that a boat that is potentially coming on the market that might be a good match for us.  I do a little digging, discover the boat is the right size, the price is in our range, and the boat looks good.  So, I thought, “Yeah, sure, let’s look into this more”.  The O’Kelly’s put us in touch with the Pete, the boat broker, and we began talking.  Pete Gulick shares with us that he does not know the O’Kelly’s, but has known the owners of One Life for some time and has overseen some of the work that was done on it.  They picked Pete to be their broker because they trusted him.  We decided if the O’Kelly’s trust the owners of One Life, and the owners of One Life trust Pete, then we would trust Pete too.  As first-time boat buyers we knew we needed help with the purchasing process, thank you Pete!

The rest is history.  We did a video tour of the boat, made an offer that was accepted, went to Florida to complete the survey and sea trial, and we are now the next care takers of One Life.  The boat that will take us into our next adventure in life indeed found us, just a few months early.  Would we have eventually found a boat on YachtWorld?  Most likely.  But, had that spearfisherman not had an extra lobster to share with a neighboring boat in that Bahamian anchorage, and had we not discovered the owners of that neighboring boat (the O’Kelly’s) on YouTube, and had the previous care takers of One Life not used the boatyard where Pete worked, we wouldn’t be the new care takers of this boat. 

You never know where life is going to take you.  There were a whole series of seemingly unrelated events that brought two different families together that would otherwise have no reason to connect in this universe.  Here’s another way to look it.  If that one simple act of kindness hadn’t happened, if the owners of One Life hadn’t taken a lobster to Clarity, we wouldn’t have found our new home either.

The Universe, Lessons, and Lifelines

Preface from Jon:

Sailing Pivo recently posted about some of the hopes and dreams that she had when they moved to the sailing life.  In Debunking Myths, Daniella observes that if you don’t some work to change yourself, you aren’t likely to feel any real true life satisfaction with just a change in scenery.  That’s what this week’s post is about.  The internal work, that at least Sandy is doing so that as we make the change in the scenery of our life, true satisfaction in life can be found.

Daniella can be found at Sailing Pivo.  Check her out!

The Universe, Lessons, and Lifelines

Almost two years ago I wrote about the power of nature in storms I’ve witnessed and experienced throughout my life (The Joy of Storms).  The past two years have brought tremendous changes for me.  My oldest child left for college, having COVID nearly took my life and significantly altered the course of my future, I shifted from being a school administrator to an online teacher to retiring from a 36-year career, I started a business, I’m learning to sail, we have sold our home and the majority of our belonging’s, just to highlight a few.  I’m sure any therapist would have a heyday unpacking just that!  However, what has come to the surface for me is not the tumultuous ride of these changes, but rather facing the storm inside my soul.

I’ve long recognized a void in myself, an emptiness, a sense that I am not whole.  I could never find clarity or understanding, much less inner peace.  Thus far I have lived my life out of balance, always searching and yearning for something.  I’ve filled every minute with busy-ness in attempt to fill that void, or least to avoid feeling the pain.  I poured myself into my career.  I gave my heart and soul to my family.  I’ve gardened, taken up countless hobbies, remodeled houses, exercised, you name it I’ve probably tried it.  I’ve struggled with alcohol abuse.  I’ve spent hours in counseling and reading self-help books.  And while all of those choices have added to the rich texture of my life, they have not quieted the sadness deep in my soul.

I promised myself that once I retired, I would finally spend the time necessary to sort this emptiness out and try to find my wholeness.  I put it out there the universe, “I’m ready to heal, bring into my life what I need”.  Of course, I already had a plan to orchestrate and control that process, and didn’t really think I needed much from the universe.  I set out to teach myself some mindfulness practices, and actually use them on a daily basis.  I began stretching and breathing in to the chronic pain in my body from years of accumulated stress and neglect.  I began scheduling myself more massage appointments, committed to more exercise, and began learning more about how to take care of a post-menopausal body.  After a couple of months, I started to feel better physically.  Surely emotional peace wasn’t far behind.

My mother has Alzheimer’s, and the time to put her in hospice care came this past fall.  The day after that was done, I woke up with every fiber of my being in pain.  And it was still there 2 days later.  This level of emotional pain manifesting in my physical body was new to me.  I again put it out there to the universe, “You got my attention, I really do want to heal, so… I’m ready to listen”.  My mind immediately filled with a vision of a beautiful mountain lake on an August day.  I could feel the gentle breeze on my face, see the bright blue sky with high wispy clouds, smell the pine forest, and feel the ice-cold water hitting my skin as I plunged in.  My feet never touched bottom in that lake.  And the universe whispered, “It’s time to jump, there are lessons to learn, it’s time to remember and it’s time to heal”.  WHAT?? You want me to jump in the deep, dark water?  I looked around, I fought it, I tried to hide, I pondered what to do next.  But I understood my only real option was to jump, and so I did.  And, the universe has thrown me the most magnificent lifelines in the most unexpected places. 

As life marched forward the past two decades and I kept myself busy, I became disconnected and out of touch from my side of the family.  I have deeply missed them.  The universe gave me a lifeline back to them, and I cherish seeing their smiling faces every time we connect.  While the universe had to hit me in the head with this lifeline, I am embracing the difficult work being done in therapy.  Brain spotting is hard.  I didn’t know I was capable of being so dysregulated and crying so many tears.  I’m thankful for a compassionate therapist and a safe space to do the work.  A simple question, “Sandy, have you ever been to Sedona?”, led to me to go there and discover an unexpected lifeline in energy work and healing.  I’ve connected with an energy healer closer to home and am beginning to understand myself in a different light.

There have been other, smaller lifelines as well.  A call from my oldest, whom I deeply miss.  My youngest checking in with me, just because he can.  Coffee with a friend, an expression of gratitude from a client, a text, funny meme or video from a friend, a smile from a stranger.  And of course, the never-ending hugs from my husband.  My entire life I’ve found joy in taking care of and loving others.  Right now, I’m still in the deep, dark waters of that mountain lake.  Some days I fight and try to claw my way out.  Other days I’m able to grasp the lifelines and learn the lessons I need.  I’m in the midst of a storm, and my journey is teaching me, sometimes gently and other times with a sledge hammer.  I’m learning what it means to be whole, embodied, and to be self-contained.  In the power of this storm, I might just learn how to find joy in taking care of and loving myself.  I suspect that’s where freedom and inner peace will be found.

Next Steps

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So, the biggest questions I have gotten after the holiday season are,

1) Did you go see your boat over the holiday? 

2) What are your next steps?  What do the next six months till you head to the boat look like? 

The first question is easy to answer.  We did not go to Florida.  While there certainly are projects we could have started, we would not be able to complete them at this time.  One Life is secure and winterized, and will be there in June.  Additionally, there other things in this country, so it was an easy decision to head to south for the holiday.  We will wait until the end of the school year to head back to One Life, and prepare to start the journey of our next life.

What are we going to do until the end of the school year?  There’s actually quite a bit to do.  On the boat front, our youngest has signed up for both a Coastal and a Celestial Navigation course.  Sandy and I will follow along, but he’s the one who will take the classes and the tests for certification.  These certifications will open doors for him should he decide to do more sailing or become a Captain after he leaves One Life.  Reading charts, plotting courses, and navigating by the stars are all very important skills.  While we have some basic skills from both the ASA103 and ASA104 courses, there is a definite opportunity for growth in this area.

Another big thing related to boat life is that the three of us will be taking a diesel engine maintenance course in February.  There was a time in my life when I could, and did, change the oil in my car.  I probably still could, but any more I defer engine maintenance to the experts.  With the computerization of car engines, I’ve pretty much given up on that stuff.  However, I don’t have that choice on the boat.  We all need to understand how the engine works, how to change fuel filters, and be able to do some basic maintenance.  If we are in the middle of the Pacific crossing to Fiji and we need to start the engine, and it doesn’t start, we’re it.  There’s no expert to call and ask how do I do this.  No access to the hive mind on Facebook or Google for help.

The Victoria Sailing School has a three-day diesel maintenance course that we will be taking next month.  It’s in person, here’s an engine, figure it out kind of thing.  Ok, I hope it’s a little more than ‘figure it out’, but yes, you need to trouble shoot, problem solve, and repair.  Will this make us experts on diesel engines, no.  But we will at least have an idea as to how things function and where to look for problems, yes.  We’re looking forward it, and it will be a good weekend.

Beyond that, we’ve got the regular routines that we have now.  Get ready for work, go to work and school, and take some weekend outings to keep things interesting.  And as always, we keeping moving forward.  We will also need to do some planning for Matthew’s graduation party, the closing of Sandy’s business, rehoming the remainder of our belongings, finding a permanent physical address, and plans for our vehicle and few belongings that don’t go to One Life with us now.  We are also working on dog training.  If you’ve ever known a Gordon Setter you know they are smart, really smart dogs, and pick up on things quickly.  It’s easy to be intermittent with our training, but it’s imperative that Kona is solid on here, stay, and place before we are on a beach or sailing alongside our fellow ocean life.

We have also started to look at our power needs on One Life.  We will have computers, phones, and tablets, kitchen appliances, along with the systems on the boat that require power.  One Life currently doesn’t have a lot of solar, and we think we want to increase that.  We need to determine our power needs and our solutions for power off grid.  How many amp hours do we need to plan for?  We’ve just started to look into that, so we don’t really have a great idea yet, but it’s a start.  So, I suppose the other big thing we are dipping our toes into is the types of boat projects that need to happen and our timeline for completion.

In some ways there’s a lot going on.  In other ways, there’s not much going on.  I’ll tell you that we are all excited and ready to move forward.  I won’t say we are in a holding pattern, because there’s more to it than that.  But in some ways, it does feel like a holding pattern.  One book that I am going to get and read is 4,000 weeks, Time Management for Mortals.  It’s one that Sandy listened to after hearing Elena from La Vagabonde recommend it.  In there, as Sandy explained it to me, it proposes the idea that we are time.  So, all we can really do is make the most of every moment.  Ultimately, our lives are the compilation of our moments and the decisions we make regarding our limited time on Earth.  I think that’s what we are all trying to do as we move through the moments of each day.

New Traditions

Sunrise across from the Windows at Arches National Park

Welcome to 2023, as if I am some sort of official recognizer of all entering the New Year.  The end of last year brought some pretty significant changes, as I’ve written about, and as this year starts up, we are already looking forward to some more steps forward.

Obviously, the big event was buying One Life.  That was huge.  But some other things changed for us as well.  Little did we know that 2021 was the last holiday season that would look like all of our other holiday seasons.  We got to spend Thanksgiving with our oldest, but they brought home their significant other.  Then the two of them headed to Riverton for Christmas.  This kind of change in a parent’s life is inevitable.  Children should go on to establish their own traditions, but it was kind of a shocker when we were told that 2022 would be different.

It was an odd feeling knowing that it wouldn’t be the four of us for Christmas.  What do you do?  Do you keep going with old traditions, knowing that those are going to change anyway?  Do you do something different?  Something in between?  We loaded up and went to Arches National Park.  If you’ve never been there, it’s magical.  The arches are amazing! When you see the Windows or Delicate Arch, words cannot describe the beauty of that formation. There is something else that I really cannot describe.

If you get the chance to go to Arches, go.  You’re also close to Zion, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef National Parks all of which are pretty amazing (or so I’ve heard).  We only gave ourselves two days in the area, but did what we could to make the most of them.  Christmas Eve day, we did a hike in the park in an area known as Devil’s Garden.  Truly an amazing place.  Fin Canyon in there, is awe inspiring.  To look up and see rock fins lined up in this canyon gives you an amazing sense of the power of nature.

Shadows formed by Private Arch

Later Christmas Eve, we drove back into the park to see the stars.  There is minimal light pollution. You can see the Milky Way and the stars in ways that you can’t in more populated parts of the world.

Christmas morning, we got up early to go to The Windows to see the sunrise.  The Windows is a set of two arches in one rock.  A pretty amazing formation. I was up there to take some pictures, it was a Christmas present for me to do a sunrise shoot in a different location. Taking in the breaking dawn was truly amazing and overshadowed the photo shoot.  I tried to get to the right spot for the perfect shot, but there wasn’t just one perfect spot. The entire area was magnificent. And as the sun was cresting over the horizon, looking to the west the way the sun lit up the desert was like nothing I’d ever seen before.

The whole area is beautiful, and to go to the area in December is a great time.  It was 8 below zero when we left home and Moab was 40 degrees, so we were pretty comfortable.  We found a great doggie daycare for Christmas Eve Day, which wore the dogs out and took good care of them.  If you go and have dogs, I highly recommend Moab National Bark. 

We know that the holidays in 2023 will be different.  One Life will be in the water, we will be sailing, somewhere in Caribbean. For now we adapted and started making some changes.  We didn’t have a truckload of presents, which was OK.  We just got rid of lot, but what we brought back from Moab were some amazing memories.

One Life

We’d been told that the right boat will come at the wrong time.  You won’t quite be ready for the boat, it be too early, or it will be after you planned on buying it.  You’ll be in the middle of getting settled in a new home.  Find a reason for it to be the wrong time, and there you have it, you’ll find your boat.  There’s a lot of truth to that statement as we found out.  Our boat found us…

We’ve been watching Yachtworld, just looking to see what’s out there.  But the big problem with buying right now is storage, for almost 9 months…and now as we are finding out, chomping at the bit to get to the boat!  But we really didn’t pursue anything because, well, it just wasn’t the right time.  We were content to look and watch prices and see what features were adding to the cost of a boat.

One day, Sandy forwards an email to me from a friend, telling her about a boat that is for sale.  It’s a good price, the boat has been well cared for.  I read the email and tell Sandy, yeah, let’s ask about, what’s the worst that can happen.  We ask for the name of the broker that the sellers are going to use and we set up a time to talk to him about the boat.  We are interested, so let’s see what other information we can find out.  He confirms for us that the boat is well cared for, but it’s a 20-year-old boat, so there’s going to be some issues, in general however, it’s a solid boat.

After talking to him, we have a decision to make.  Make an offer, knowing it’s June or July at the earliest before can to her to make any needed repairs and in the meantime, she sits in Florida, albeit in a bit inland (on a river) or do we pass and wait to see what else comes on the market?

We decided that things were just right for this, even if the time was wrong.  It’s a catamaran in the size that we are looking for.  It’s been well cared for, so there’s not necessarily going to be a lot of work that needs to be done.  We’ve got a recommendation from someone that we trust.  It’s in the right price range.  So, we make an offer.  Within hours, the offer is accepted.

Now that we have an accepted offer, it means we need to plan a trip to Florida to see the boat and have a survey and sea trial done.  As with any big purchase like a house, you need to make sure that the boat is seaworthy and there isn’t something that’s going to bite you later.  I get a surveyor lined up, the lift to put the boat in the water is reserved and then it’s time to head down to Florida.

As the three of us got on board and started walking around taking a look at things, we all agreed.  This really was a good boat and we liked it.  There wasn’t really a reason for us to back out of the deal unless the survey and sea trial showed something really major.  There were a few things I knew to look for in a Lagoon 410 from watching Sailing Nahoa, but none of those issues appeared to exist on this boat.  Of course, just like with a home inspection, you aren’t ripping things out, so yeah something could always show up.

The survey and sea trial turned up some issues, but nothing that couldn’t be addressed.  If there were major cracks in the hulls, that might have deterred us, but all of the issues were things that could be fixed.  Some plumbing, some electrical, a couple of other things, but everything could be addressed.  It was amazing to be out on the water, checking things over, eating some pizza (yes the sellers even proved that the oven worked by baking a couple of pizzas for lunch), and knowing that this could be ours soon. 

This was the last point in the process for us to back out of the deal.  After listening to the surveyor and the broker, we decided that we would move forward.  We wanted this boat.  We wanted to call this our next home.  The sellers agreed to a couple of concessions and we had a deal.  Afterwards they started to show us more of what’s there, fishing gear, extra lines, snorkeling equipment, all of that stayed with the boat.  It was going to be ours.  We had a great dinner with them on board and made some new friends.

The big question is, what’s the boat’s name.  The sellers had named her One Life.  We decided to keep that name because it’s a lot of why we are doing this.  It fits.  Stenciled above the saloon door is the saying, “Don’t dream your life, live your dreams”.  It’s what we want to do.  You only have one life, so live it.   

Weekend Outing

A cow and calf moose we saw driving around Rob Roy. There was another pair as well, but these two decided to stop and look straight at me!

We are no longer homeowners as I mentioned last week.  Now, there’s still a lot to do to get ready, but we can work on the sorting, shopping list creating, etc. on the weekends and evenings without having to worry as much about house projects too.  I still need to mow, but it’s a lot less.  We still have to clean, but again it’s a lot less, it frees up a bit of time.

Last Sunday, Sandy and I loaded up the dogs and took them over to Rob Roy Reservoir.  It’s about 2 hours from where we live, but it was nice to get out of town and enjoy the mountains.  There weren’t a lot of people around the reservoir, but there were a lot of people out camping in the general since hunting season just opened. 

The shoreline was a great place to walk until the dead-fall got to be a bit too much so we headed back to find some new places to explore, that didn’t have as many people around.  Forest service roads abound in national forests, and we found one further down the reservoir that took us to a great spot to get the dogs out, let Kona try some swimming (he didn’t want to do much of that, I’m pretty sure that water was only about 40 degrees!) and in general just mess around in the mountains. Similar to the charter, there is something about being away from phones, internet, and in general being unplugged from devices that is rejuvenating.

One of the really amazing things about being there, is that about two or three years ago, there was a major wildfire in the area.  The really burn was a bit south of the area, but it did make its way to the reservoir and you can see the burned and fallen trees.  You really need to stay on roads and marked trails, because the vegetation is in the early stages of coming back.

What was pretty amazing to us both driving and walking through the area was the way some trees were completely untouched by the fire.  You would see burned trees all over, and then there was this one random tree that didn’t get touched.  The other thing that was pretty amazing to us was the amount of new growth that was all over.  Pine trees were already three feet tall in some of the burn areas.

Driving along on the way home, Sandy told me to slow down (not that I was going that fast), but she saw some movement on a hillside across the way, so I pulled over and at first, what we though were just cows, turned out to be a couple of cow moose and their calves.  It was pretty neat to see, and I got out to take some pictures of them.  We were talking and the cows heard us and stopped what they were doing to see what we were doing.  After a couple of minutes, they rounded up their calves and started wandering off.  Seeing a moose is always pretty amazing, such skinny legs supporting such massive bodies and yet they just walk on through the forest, just like they belong there.

The other thing we wanted to do was to get Kona more experience at outdoor dining.  So, we stopped in Laramie to get dinner at a place that had outdoor seating and would allow dogs. After a little bit he settled down, but he hasn’t had a lot of practice of being on leash and being where there’s quite a bit of traffic, both people and pet.  We know that as we go to other places, we will be taking him to restaurants with outdoor seating and that allow dogs, so it’s important that he get experience whenever possible.  Not eating out a lot though, there’s not always a lot of opportunity to make that happen. So, when we have the chance, we want to take advantage of it.

Overall, he handled the situation pretty well.  He pretty quickly came to recognize that people walking by weren’t necessarily interested in meeting him, though he wanted to meet them.  He still wants to play with every dog he sees and when one sat down not to far from us, he started barking, but after a few minutes decided he’d had enough and that they weren’t going to play.

It was great to get out into the mountains and not have to worry about projects at the house.  I know that we have a bit of work to do to get things sorted, finding a boat, planning next steps. There’s plenty of things to do, but getting out and seeing the countryside right now is a lot easier to do than before. I think that Nick O’Kelly was right when he said the more stuff you own, the more stuff owns you.