The Hard Way


Naphtali--the boat we are purchasing

We have an ongoing joke that we do everything the hard way. Only, I’m not sure it’s a joke anymore.

As if it’s not hard enough to sell everything, say goodbye to loved ones, live in a 23’ camper, share one car, and spend a lot of intense quality time together as we search for a sailboat. No, not hard enough. Next we go and find a sailboat in Canada and have to figure out purchasing in a foreign currency, taxes, importing, title, moorage, health insurance, and boat insurance—all of which are complicated by being in another country. It can all be figured out but it comes with lots of headaches.

Topping it all off, the area we will eventually be sailing in is universally considered challenging with tides, currents, rain, and colder temperatures unlike anywhere else we’ve sailed. No swimming or snorkeling here! On the other hand, many people think this area is the best cruising grounds on the earth. And there is no risk of heat waves that would leave me grumpy and sitting in a pool of sweat 24/7. But when I see other sailing blogs of the Caribbean I get a little green with envy.

Clouds cover Howe Sound, B.C.

Yup, this journey has had it’s fair share of stress. Add to that a lack of consistent exercise, an undeniable drive for comfort food, and aging bodies with slowing metabolisms and both of us have put on weight. I was a size 8/10 and now I’m a solid 12 with fears of becoming a size 14. That may not sound like much but the weight gain has the ripple effect of damaging my self esteem, erasing my desire to dance, and shrinking my already limited wardrobe. Yesterday I broke down and bought larger underwear which fit better but OMG I feel soooooooo discouraged.

I am doing what I can to combat the weight gain—cutting out comfort food and replacing with as many fresh veggies and lean proteins as I can. And I walk as much as possible during the day (which can be a lot since Rob generally needs the car to get parts for the boat). We also use the very limited space in the camper to stretch and do some simple isometric strengthening exercises every morning. Still…it’s not enough. And there may not be much more available once we move onto the sailboat. The plan is to sail to places with nice hikes but without a car we are pretty limited to the trails we can access on foot from the dock or beach.

Rob, of course, doesn’t struggle with these things the way I do. So add into the mix a large dose of loneliness and isolation.

My days used to be filled with independence (via my own car), happy dogs, long daily hikes, female companionship, dance, events, meaningful work, and close friends. Conversely my day is now full of domestic projects like cleaning, laundry, cooking, sewing torn clothes, walking the dog, and dealing with tedious logistics. Meanwhile Rob’s day is full of hardware stores, fixing (and sometimes simultaneously breaking) things on the boat, researching how to improve boat systems, coordinating services with professionals and practicing docking like Captain Ron. His projects leave him with a feeling of accomplishment and success. Mine make me feel like a 1950's housewife.

Donna Reed with laundry

It is unfortunate that I have no natural ability or interest in mechanical things. If I did, well then this experience would be completely different. I’d never run out of stuff to talk about with the predominately male sailing demographic. I’d be excited to spend hours finding information on fuel return lines or how to bleed cooling systems. As it is, I have to fight to keep from yawning and picking up my phone to check Facebook when these topics arise.

I have joined a women’s sailing group locally as well as on Facebook, and recently took a marine radio course and a pet first aid class. All have helped combat the feeling of loneliness and feeling out of control. However, I hesitate to make friends as chances are good I will never see these people after we leave here (in mid-July if all goes well). And, if I am honest, I’m not sure I could take the pain of leaving friends again.

If it sounds like I’m complaining, well I am. This life change has cost a lot and so far i don’t feel like it’s given a lot back. I’ve been told to “relax,” and “drink more,” and “enjoy the ride” but it’s hard to do that when I can’t even look at myself in a mirror without wincing. I am uncomfortable in my own skin and completely out of my comfort zone every day.

It is a daily, actually minute by minute, challenge to see the benefits and to feel grateful for this time. We are making memories. We are seeing beautiful places. We are meeting interesting people. People tell us we will be glad we did this when we are old and grey. And I have found time to do a few paintings which I enjoy.

Lupine and Scottish Broom with the ocean in the background

I do have hope that someday, once the boat is ours and all the repairs, maintenance, and improvements are more or less complete, once we figure out where to go and how to get there, once we figure out how Navi will get his needs met on the boat, then I will feel like maybe, just maybe, the new life rivals the old. Until then it’s the hard way every day.