Sailing the Caribbean

I clip my safety harness onto the line and step into Mira’s cockpit, waiting a second as my eyes adjust to the full moon overhead before grabbing the line and wobbling my way to the AIS chart plotter to check for boat traffic, as I do every 20 minutes while I’m on watch. Spotting a cruise ship 4 miles away I hone in the screen to get the information about the vessel- 850 feet long, 6.1 knots, closest point of approach is 1.4 nautical miles, destination is Great Stirrup Cay in the Barry Islands, same as us. He will pass us at some point in roughly an hour. “Maybe he can toss us some ice”, Patricia jokes as we begin our watch. It’s 1 AM and I just woke up for our 2nd to last watch on Mira’s last leg before Fort Lauderdale. Mira is a 49 foot catamaran I have lovingly called home as of late.

I lay on my back next to Otto, our trusty autopilot and put my headphones on low so I can still hear the gentle hum of the waves that are nudging us along and stare up at the stars reflecting on the last 5 weeks.

We spent 6 days in the essentially uninhabited harbor of Royal Island in the Bahamas. Besides a day of diving where we got picked up from the catamaran and a small workload getting Mira ready for our last stretch we didn’t bring the dinghy down once. We relaxed, read, snorkeled, swam at sunset, got up early to watch the sunrise, wrote and talked. I laid in the sun, meditated, studied Spanish and put my headphones in every night after dinner to watch the sun go down. The days drifted by seamlessly as I watched tropical storms approach and fizzle out to be replaced with humidity, sun and a new batch of house flies, or in our case boat flies. It was slowly becoming time to get Mira back to Florida before hurricane season officially starts.

In 5 weeks I have yet to feel ansy or bored. I wake with the sun and sleep with the moon. Life is simple and my days are governed by the wind and weather. I have been so lucky to make two new friends and am blessed I can gain some experience on Mira. I snorkeled one day to discover a small Bar Jack had followed me off the reef. He kept swimming between my fingers, under and around me and didn’t seem to go anywhere else. I would free dive down and he would follow me, uninhibited. He came out into deeper water and back to the catamaran with me a half an hour later. I tried to bring him back to the reef but he insisted on returning to the boat a second time. I decided to name him Jasper. The next day I climbed back in the water in my snorkeling gear and there was Jasper, hanging out and waiting. We said hi to him every day and threw flies overboard laughing and calling his name whenever we did. As we pulled out of the harbor we all yelled our goodbyes and wished our new friend a good life.

I have read 12 books so far on this trip, greatly improved my Spanish skills, started a new journal and finished an old one, reconnected with my meditation practice, swam every day, gawked at the clouds, stars and the moon, and laughed a lot. My skin is tanned from the sun and my sea legs are fully established; I think I even look calmer. I love being on the ocean and as our time gets closer to the end and we get closer to Port Everglades I can feel myself starting to get anxious about it being over. I love the sound of the wind when the motors are off and we are under sail rushing along at 7 knots. I’ve learned to love the hum of the motor on overnight passages when I collapse into my cabin at 5 AM, exhausted after watch as the waves rock me to sleep. I can already tell this experience has changed me and I worry about forgetting the simplicity and being sucked back in to the real world again. I keep reminding myself about balance.

I’m going to miss cooking, inside jokes, drinking sundowners on the nets, popcorn and movie nights where we discovered you can put Frank’s Hot Sauce on literally everything, and eat it with a side of canned beets, just because. Laughing until I cry when I find Patricia a little tipsy in the galley singing “let the beets rock” and giggling to herself. I’ll miss our mangrove children that we named Glippy, Stormy, Herby and Manny who have been zip tied to the flag pole in a retired Fiji water bottle since the BVI. I will miss the fact that Vic probably loves olives and feta cheese more than anyone I have ever met and how it somehow got worked into every meal. I will miss the abundance of wildlife we have encountered along the way- from swimming pigs, to nurse sharks, remoras, eagle rays and sting rays, flying fish landing on the nets under way and dolphins playing alongside the bow of the boat, bioluminescence lighting up our way some nights. But as it comes to a close its still not over, we are having T-shirts made that encompass all our inside jokes and quirks and we are all jumping out of a perfectly good airplane on Tuesday, you know, just because.

Oh yea, it’s been 20 minutes, back to watch.

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He Told Me

I told him that my biggest fear was that he would walk away one day without a word, deciding I wasn’t worth an explanation.

I felt it was a legit fear, it had happened in 2 previous relationships.

It caused me to wonder what it was about me,
What I had done to deserve that kind of treatment from someone I considered an equal,
Someone I treated with respect.
What was it about me that made men up and walk away?

Then I realized that maybe I was intimidating?
Maybe I was hard to love because I wasn’t something solid you could tame,
Someone you could depend on to constantly reassure your manhood and your fixed place in my life.

I’m not safe.

I’m wild and unpredictable.
I have a hard enough time keeping my own plans.
So I couldn’t promise Christmases at your parents or dinner on Thursday nights.

I’m uncontrollable.

But control isn’t love.
Control is the opposite of love.
If you want stability…
You won’t find it with me.
If you want predictable…
Then,
I’m sorry darling but that just ain’t me!

I am who I am.
I’m messy and wild and if you can love me without the straight lines
and the full stops,
If you can love the blurry in between, fleeting moments,
Where I love you passionately then run off to my soul’s calling, leaving you alone again,
Then baby…
I hope you will.

I told him that my biggest fear was that he’d find me TOO much.
That he’d find me exhausting.
Too much.
After one partner walked away in silence my best friend told me,
“Darling, you’re just much too much-y!”

And he told me that his biggest fear was my fear.
His biggest fear was that I would be afraid,
That I wouldn’t need him enough,
Wouldn’t try to make room for him in my life.

So,
I did what I always do
and I left,
On my next adventure.
Back to the sea,
Back to my bliss.
And he said,
He said,
“If you love someone then you will respect someone free.”

And he let me go.

That was it.
Instead of loving me possessively,
He loved my spirit,
My soul,
My wandering feet,
And he told me to follow my heart and do what I had to.
He showed me a kind of love I’d always tried to show but never gotten back.

My biggest fear became miniscule and impermanent because his love is greater than that.
He loves me more than to limit my shine
And I love him across continents because I don’t need his permission
And he doesn’t need mine.

We are a tangled web of souls who found each other in the darkness.
We are to each other what the moon is to the tide,
Equal parts sky and sea.

He is my sun.
And because of his love,
His confidence,
His passion,
I know that I will inevitably circle back his way to feel that warmth once again.

Why we should Shamelessly do Nothing More Often

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I wrote this on May 27 somewhere in between the BVI and the Bahamas. It is a few days late as I only got wifi again and the motivation to retype it onto my phone and out of my journal.

We’re not used to doing nothing.

We live in a society where we are taught to be productive, constantly making the most of our time. Emphasis is always put on how much we can accomplish- i.e. we want to do more in less time. We are constantly finding new and innovative ways to “save time”; when in actuality, all we are really doing is freeing up more time so that we can do MORE things. So now we just have more shit to do!

“Sitting around” is lazy, even “relaxing” is lazy. Unless you are constantly running around and acting busy, you’re lazy. And “doing nothing” is definitely lazy!

What does “doing nothing” even mean? Aren’t we technically always doing something? Even nothing is something, right? Maybe I’m thinking about this too much…

In today’s world doing nothing is an art. An almost forgotten art. I’m not rewarding genuine laziness or encouraging “nothing” as a lifestyle but I am encouraging people to slow down sometimes, at least long enough to allow yourself to think critically about your day and spend some quality time with yourself.

In a world that makes you feel shame or guilt for taking time to yourself or taking a holiday, most of us don’t allow ourselves to slow down. And those of us that do get called selfish or lazy. It’s too bad that we aren’t taught to appreciate the in between moments where we can be with ourselves. Instead we slow down for a moment only to start thinking of the heaps of other things we should be doing with our time. We start getting anxious- we fiddle with our phones, turn on the TV or look for something else to distract us. Why?

Because we no longer know how to be with ourselves.

As I write this I am making a crossing from the British Virgin Islands to the Bahamas. No cell service, no wifi, no distractions. I have been saving Hemingway’s Islands on the Stream for this trip because I figured no timeless piece of literature would be more appropriate. He writes, “to go outside yourself, you must first go in.”

That’s what this trip is for me and this is what I need- probably what most people need to be honest, some time away from the hustle and bustle of normal life. A chance to sit and “do nothing” but look inside and humble themselves on what’s really important in life.

I started out this morning feeling anxious as we left port. I was trying to send loved ones last minute messages so they knew not to worry and rack my brain to make sure there weren’t any emails left unanswered or a bill I forgot about and then it hit me, “it’s only 5 days” and the rest of the world will be fine! I guess if it does all go to hell there isn’t anything I can do about it on my floating rock in the middle of the Caribbean, days from shore. And that was it, that moment, that beautiful fleeting moment where I let go and relaxed into doing nothing.

An hour later as we exited the harbour into the open ocean I put my book down for a minute and looked to the horizon. As I did I heard a splashing sound and walked towards the bow to find a pod of spinner dolphins playing in the wake. I almost tripped over a cleat as i went running to let the other crew know!

We laid on the nets and I put my hands out as they swam underneath us, getting within a foot of my fingertips. I was laughing and smiling at the absolute joy I felt. In that moment I let go, again. I was fully present and nothing else mattered. A reminder from the ocean to remain present and enjoy every moment.

Doing nothing is an art. The ability to find a space within yourself that allows you to relax and let go needs to be acceptable. We must allow ourselves these moments to find the thing(s) that get us there. It is so valuable and so special! I don’t think most people know what that’s like.

Once you find that space, maintain it. If you don’t you will slowly loose the ability to access it until you wake up one day and don’t know where it went, where you went, where that child inside you went. We will find comfort in distraction once again and loose ourselves completely.

Find time every day to do nothing. I challenge you.