Its funny, I dont feel like we are 100% assimilated back into the hustle and bustle of normal land life, but then I realize that somehow almost four months have slipped away since my last post, and I know that to a certain degree, we are right back in the rat race.
Its been a crazy summer full of the things we missed while we were away: time with our families and fun with our friends. The only thing missing was time for sailing, but we can’t complain about that… you could say that the scales tipped towards sailing in the last few years, so we are making up for that imbalance now. We have already been to seven weddings this summer, and all of their accompanying bridal showers, bachelor parties, bridesmaid’s mani/pedi dates, and so on. Although my beach feet probably needed a some extra love, I think that three pedicures in three weeks was a little overkill, but how do I say no to a bride? Our wedding schedule has kept us zipping all over the state and has given us a great excuse to catch up with family members from afar and friends we haven’t seen in ages.
People keep asking us “how does it feel to be back?” and I wish I had a better answer, but all I can think of is “it’s weird”. After 18 months of keeping it simple, moving at our own pace, and spending 100% of our time together, it just feels weird to give our time to other people, hop in a car and drive across town for any old reason, and be expected to “keep up” with everything.
We are dragging our feet on a few things. We kept my 14 year old Subaru while we were gone, and have decided to be a one-car-family for as long as we can. We sold the Cabriolet – and good riddance! We can bike to most things in town, although I’m still working up the guts to ride to work in the morning. In addition to sharing a single car, we are sharing a single cell phone, which baffles and confuses people to the point of comedy. Its only been a decade or so since most people gave up their home phones for cell phones, but judging from the look people give you when you tell them that you don’t have a cell phone, it may as well have been a million years. After being totally unconnected to the outside world for weeks at a time, I have to say that I feel some resentment at being expected to be available by phone 24-7. Then again, I have always been terrible at returning phone calls, so maybe Im just happy to finally have a half-way decent excuse. I don’t know that we’ll be able to share cars and phones forever, but it feels good to keep things simple for as long as we can. I figure that we’ll probably never have less “stuff” than we do right now, so we are savoring the moment.
Home Sweet Boat
We plan to live on the boat for as long as we continue to like it. We originally thought we would sell it at the end of our cruise, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to do it. We love sailing, we love this boat, and we weren’t ready to give it all up. Keeping the boat not only meant footing the expense to ship it home from Florida, but also meant not having that extra infusion of cash to get ourselves reestablished. We counted our pennies, crossed our fingers and decided that what we would save in rent by living on the boat for a year or so would counteract the cost of shipping it home. So here we are, back in Bellingham, and living on our boat. For now, we have everything we need and most of what we want. When we originally moved onto the boat 2+ years ago, one of the only things I was sad to give up was my garden and my houseplants, so now that we are sitting in one place most of the time, I converted our jerry can rack into a flower pot rack… now our home is complete!
Before our trip, I didn’t talk much about living aboard, for fear that people would think it was weird. Now, I talk about it to anyone who will listen, and get a total kick out of people’s reactions. Most people respond in one of two ways: “oh, how interesting” or “oh, so… you’re homeless”. Its been fun sharing about our non traditional lifestyle, especially at work with a bunch of accountants who are more prone to think inside the box. One co-worker in particular asks about once a week: “are you still living on that boat??” Its hard to convince some people that its NOT camping or being homeless and more like living in a small but cozy house.
Finding our Feet
Fortunately, right before we returned home, a friend of mine and previous boss, asked if I would be willing to pick up some of my old job responsibilities while I looked for a permanent position. I was stoked to help her with a few fun projects, earn some cash when we were in a pinch and have an easy, no-pressure, way to transition back into the working lifestyle. I wont lie, even though this was the easiest re-introduction to work I could have asked for, it was still a little rough. After having the luxury of spending 100% of my time selfishly, it took a while to wrap my brain around giving 40 hours of my life to something else every week. This same wonderful friend also put me in touch with a friend of hers who is a partner at an accounting firm that happened to need someone like me. I interviewed the very day after we splashed the boat in Bellingham, one thing led to the next and boom, I have been working full time since the beginning of July. The tiniest part of me secretly hoped that I would be unemployed for just a little while so I’d have time to catch my breath, but in a job market like this one, I know I am blessed to have found a job I love so quickly. Elan has had several good interviews so far, but is still looking for a position that will keep him interested long-term. With all of the boat work we have needed done, I don’t know how he would have time to work anyway.
Zen and the Art of Boat Maintenance
For once in her life, Silver Lining cooperated with our pleas. During the last few months of our trip, we had a few key pieces of equipment that were threatening to give up their ghosts, but we begged them to ‘just hold out until we could make it home’… We should have been more careful what we wished for, because as soon as we made it home, it seemed like everything broke. Although we are used to roughing it, (and I know sailors who chose to live without refrigeration), two months without a refrigerator and a temperamental water pump is pretty sucky.
Its going to take us a while to de-cuise the boat: to complete the deferred maintenance and re-do our quickie bubble-gum-ducktape-fix-it-with-whatever-supplies-we-happen-to-have fixes that we did along the way. It feels pretty good to be able to fix things on our own time, wait until we can find the proper parts/supplies and not be working in ‘survival mode’ anymore. We did manage to off-load a couple of big space-hogging items that we’d kept for our cruise: the spare transmission, the wind vane, and the 50 gallon flexible water tank. Maybe, just maybe, we will actually remove enough cruising gear that we can sleep in the stateroom again someday. Big dreams!
Now that we aren’t putting such hard miles on the boat, we have decided to fix up a few cosmetic things as well. We re-did the silver pinstripe and I broke my absolutely-no-varnish-outside rule, and have started varnishing our few token pieces of teak on the exterior of the boat. After all of her hard work, Silver Lining deserves a little love too!
SUMMER IN THE BEAUTIFUL PACIFIC NORTHWEST
Here are a few photos from our summer in our old stomping grounds.
Camping at Deception Pass:
Buddy Boating with Mom and Dad on their new Grand Banks
Out for a Day Sail with Old Friends:
A Visit to Western Washington University:
Time with Family:
A Front Row Seat to the Best Sunsets in Bellingham
Well… there goes Summer, happy first day of fall everyone! I hope a whole ‘nother season doesn’t slip by before my next post!
Hope you are all happy and well,
Ashley & Elan