Hard and Soft

Towing Friends

Towing a boat-load of friends to Cypress Island for an evening hike.

I was listening to the podcast of an Australian radio station that had Emily Richmond on as guest. Emily is one of the most bad-ass women I’ve ever heard of, presently solo-sailing around the world in her engine-less sailboat.

One phrase she said on the podcast caught my attention: “Looking up at the stars, thinking about space and what’s ahead.” Imagine that: trying to plan around all the obstacles of an engine-less voyage to your next destination while admiring the beauty of the night sky and the perspective on significance that it provides. The picture of a soft soul, open to the beauty of the universe, with the simultaneous thick skin of a well-traveled explorer.

I think sometimes of Stormy aboard Sookie, who I’ve hung out with on several occasions. His innocent, child-like approach to the world and people around him compliments the mental armor he is able to erect against discomfort and the many inconveniences of living aboard a small boat without a heater.

Fog Horn, Depth Finder, and Compass

Among the many upgrades I made to Solace this summer is a new depth finder, compass, and fog horn.

It seems to me that a life of cruising must make one hard in some places and soft in others; in very different ways that modern society makes one hard of heart, but soft in body.

The summer is waning. We’re well past the half-way point and it was heart breaking for me to watch this summer pass me by as I battle cubical-land for the paychecks I need to buy my freedom. I take solace in the idea that I have less than one year left until I reach debt freedom. In the meantime, I sail Solace, like applying a balm to the emotional callouses inflicted by the modern equivalent of indentured servitude.

Only one week left until I leave for a three week sail into the Gulf Islands! I am fully prepared for the trip and plan to take enough pictures to give me material for several blog posts, so you may look forward to that my friends. Before I get myself lost in that adventure though, I thought I’d pause to reflect on some of the highlights of this summer.

Suvi fell in love with this stuffed animal at the Free Store.

I had a great time playing uncle to Andy’s daughter on several trips this summer.

Solace has come a long way this season. After moving aboard in April, I gave my self the month of May to adjust to life aboard before diving into the outside repairs that I needed fair weather for. During this dry weather, I’ve managed to patch up all of the cracks in her gelcoat, paint the outside of the hull with non-skid paint, installed a depth finder and compass, added a third battery, and re-caulked all topside windows and thru-hulls. I also installed a fog horn and a radar reflector, and have a small generator and battery charger for off-grid power.

I also managed to capture some special moments this summer, and thanks to this blog, I don’t have to worry about them fading into the recesses of memory. The highlight of the summer is hard to choose, but I think the winner is two back-to-back weekend trips to Cypress Island. Both involved a hike through the woods of Cypress in the dark with friends. The memory of walking under the bows of the evergreens, with only the moon to light your way, while enjoying the company of a good friend shines like a precious gem in my mind. Those memories of the summer smell in the air, the feeling that life is good and worth living, are what sustains me through my cubical life. Those are my ‘Yes!’ moments, as typified in this passage from the Fountainhead:

What you feel in the presence of a thing you admire is just one word–‘Yes.’ The affirmation, the acceptance, the sign of admittance. And that ‘Yes’ is more than an answer to one thing, it’s a kind of ‘Amen’ to life, to the earth that holds this thing, to the thought that created it, to yourself for being able to see it. But the ability to say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ is the essence of all ownership. It’s your ownership of your own ego. Your soul, if you wish. Your soul has a single basic function–the act of valuing. ‘Yes’ or ‘No,’ ‘I wish’ or ‘I do not wish.’ You can’t say ‘Yes’ without saying ‘I.” There’s no affirmation without the one who affirms. In this sense, everything to which you grant your love is yours.

Nephew Steering

Passing on my love of the islands to my nephew was one of the most rewarding parts of the summer.

Another couple precious moments this summer was the trip I took to Pender, Saturna, and Tumbo Islands with Andy’s family and crabbing with my own family. Getting to play uncle to Andy’s daughter, as well as own my nephew Kian, was a wonderful experience. If it hadn’t been for my own Aunt and Uncle, I never would have developed my passion and love of this place. It’s an honor to pass that love on, and see the wonderment in a child’s eyes when they experience all the small miracles in the San Juan Islands.

Related posts:

Sailing in Solitude
Voyaging Challenges
Swallowing The Anchor
One Response to “Hard and Soft”
  1. Hey there! We’ve just nominated your blog for the Liebster Award. Here’s a post explaining this thing: http://littlecunningplan.com/2014/08/liebster-award-wed-like-to-thank-you/

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