The journey — a lifetime in the making — has finally begun.
It wasn’t always clear it was going to happen.
48 hours before departure, we were on our hands and knees, scrubbing. We’d been living on an air mattress in an empty living room for a week. Our house had been emptied of every stick of furniture. Every hedge had been trimmed. Every weed pulled. Every book and plate and knickknack had been given away or donated. The car had been driven to Colin’s son Aidan in Astoria. We’d set up a property management company to take over as soon as we were out, installed a new water line, built railings for the stairs and painted every room and door and piece of trim. Every old paint can was driven to the hazardous waste facility. Every spare sail bag to the consignment store. We’d gone weeks past our self-imposed deadline to leave. Our bodies were sore in places we didn’t even know we had bodies, and our minds were roughly as sharp as jell-o. Forget prepping the boat — for the entire rest of this journey, we may look back at getting out of the house as our Cape Horn.
On our very very last day, I was cleaning out the fridge when I opened the bottom compartment. “Colin,” I called, trying to keep my voice on the calm end of the spectrum. “The freezer is vomiting ice crystals.”
It looked like a winter wonderland scene in there. On top of the ice trays was a thick blanket of snow. All along the walls and ceilings were layers upon layers of ice crystals. Stick in some twinkle lights and a plastic reindeer and it could have been a Christmas window diorama at Macy’s. At the time, I must admit, the charm of the scene escaped me. What I saw in front of me was a new fridge, a massive drain on the bank account, missing our time window to make it to a wedding and getting stuck in port for something close to forever.
Meanwhile, Colin had been scrubbing the bathroom. While we tend to use natural cleaning products for ourselves, we’d pulled out every toxic spray bottle in the cabinet to make the house sparkle for potential new renters. The previous homeowners had been in their 90’s and had sandblasted the enamel to be less slippery. We even inherited remnants of the glue from those non-slip flowers. He’d stripped down to his skivvies to keep the Comet off his clothes and spent an hour performing miracles with the bathtub. As he finished bleaching the tile floors, he’d added a final coup de gras of pure Clorox to the tub, before moving on with his mop. But when I called him in my near-panic, instead of hearing soothing words such as “We’ll solve it,” he’d just discovered, an hour after finishing the bathroom, another problem. “Cheyenne! What’s going on? The bathtub was clean — now it looks like I’ve murdered someone in there!”
The sandblasted area that minutes ago had been sparkling white, had turned a deep, muddy shade of red that covered the majority of the tub’s surface. I saw visions of panic-induced bathtub shopping. I saw that if we pulled out the tub, the plumbing would surely need to be replaced. The tiles would get broken. The fixtures would be too old to work. I saw the death of a dream before it had begun. I’ve stepped up to emergencies from house fires (plural) to the Heimlich maneuver when it was needed (truly). But this? This may not have been my finest moment of calmly working the problem.
I used my lifeline.
Luckily my mom and stepdad answered. Brian suggested lint on the air intake may be the simple cause of Santa’s workshop in the freezer, and lo and behold the issue was solved with a couple wipes of a paper towel. And the internet (thank you, internet!), helped us discover that the rusty chemical reaction we’d set off between the bleach and the cast iron tub could be reversed with a few simple squirts of hydrogen peroxide. Who knew?
I wish I could say that was the last of the problems we had to troubleshoot last minute, but T-Mobile unexpectedly sucked up an entire vital day — as did our insurance company — but we did finally manage to get out of the house and on to the boat. We got Pristine’s fresh water topped off and the waste pumped out (luckily, managing in foggy brain states not to confuse the two). Colin took another trip up the mast to attach the man overboard pole, stowed the surfboards, moved the jib cars and roller-fuller leads and organized the lazarette. I emptied the dock box, returned the rental car, checked the weather and stocked up on coffee.
Then, with the clock ticking to make it to Colin’s cousin’s wedding — and the endlessly changeable May weather throwing a line up of low pressure curveballs toward the West Coast — Mother Nature opened a window for us to boogie on down to Half Moon Bay and we jumped on it.
It was a beautiful day to be on the water. Light winds, big swells coming out the gate and some traffic avoidance practice with tugs and tows. What wind we did have was unseasonably on the nose and we ran the engine more than we experienced the Sound of Sailing Silence, but we were finally out there. Just to prove the point that sailing is fixing your boat in exotic locations, our adjustment to the roller fuller to avoid chafe apparently built an over-ride creator and needs to be ‘re-fixed.’ And why our gorgeously purring Yanmar no longer wants to read us its RPMs is a mystery yet to be solved.
But the natural world seems to have welcomed us with open arms. We saw whale spouts near Treasure Island as we left, which clearly meant they were saying goodbye. Down the coast, while we were playing Crab Pot Minefield, we were surrounded by thousands of tiny drifting jellyfish. And as we passed Point Montara, we handed the binoculars back and forth trying to make sense of something floating in the water. A wreck? A piece of pier? A whale carcass surrounded by dorsal fins? It turned out to be a pod of sleeping seals, who greeted us with a fond ‘Hello, but don’t come any closer to our babies’ greeting.
We’re now safely anchored in Half Moon Bay, making up for the lost sleep of the last four months. We may do some fixes today. We may not. We may just take the rest we need while we wait in the pretty and well-sheltered harbor for a gale to pass, and see what Mother Nature has in store for us next.