Just Keep Swimming

After reading Upgrade 1 – The Saga of the Propane Locker we received a complaint about our dirty-sailor-potty-mouths. Juuuust kidding. It’s our only vice that doesn’t lead to liver failure so don’t even think about trying to get us to quit! We actually received a comment from a friend about how amazed she was that we have stayed so positive through all of our trials and tribulations. Which has inspired me to share a story. So all of you can blame Kim for the ramblings that I’ve managed to word vomit into this post.

Craig is lucky.

Craig is lucky.

But first I’d like to make a statement. I have an amazing wife. (Everyone in Cyberland say “awwww”.) This statement is not made in the irreverent, insincere tone that I sometimes hear men use when they attempt to say nice things to women. Those usually aren’t very nice men and they don’t get to end up with a bad ass chick like mine. This is a legit, honest statement, and the world needs to know that I know it’s true- so I will make sure all twelve of you reading this blog post know it and believe it. To say that my biggest hurdle with all of this “let’s-sail-around-the-world-on-a-chunk-of-fiberglass” business has been everything except convincing Krystle to do it with me might begin to illustrate my point. I am a lucky son-of-a-bitch. (No – I am not calling my mom a bitch. She’s great. I just like swearing. Didn’t we already cover this? KEEP UP! Love you, Mom!)

I can say with a great deal of certainty that I would have bailed out from this adventure had I not been support by a backbone stronger than my own. We hadn’t been living on the boat for a month before I had a conversation with Krystle about how overwhelmed, out of my comfort zone, and tired of feeling novice I had already become. AND that I was ready to turn around and sell the boat. (We were in a bit of shock since we both secretly thought Krystle would be the one wanting to jump ship first – pun intended.) At the end of that conversation Krystle made me commit to one year. No backing out or slowing down until we’d given this Big Dream one year to simmer. She’s brilliant.

Since I’m not on Prozac or anything these feelings of doubt/frustration/blahblahblah still creep up relatively frequently. As we check things off the Great and Powerful To Do List I am sloooooowwwwlllyy building confidence. And K is always right there to silence my doubts, calm my fears, and make me believe. When I’m with her, I feel like I’m on Prozac. That’s a compliment, right? When (I used to say “if”) we set off to destinations unknown, you all should know that it was Krystle’s perseverance and vision that kept the dream alive. I am learning how to stay positive through all of this because SHE is telling me that we can do it. Like I said, I have an amazing wife.

Yeah, it's sorta like The Princess Bride. Minus the GIANT nutria (thank god).

Yeah, it’s all romantic like The Princess Bride. Minus that GIANT nutria and the shrieking eels (thank god).

Okay, enough of that mushy, philosophical shit- I’d like to tell you a story about what the first few months of boat ownership have really felt like. Because it hasn’t been all positive (I mean – have you read ANY of the previous posts?) and we are all about being real (I mean – have you read ANY of the previous posts?). This isn’t one of those stories that you’ve heard for 17 Thanksgivings in a row told by your uncle that you see once a year. And can we take a moment here to discuss this? Wouldn’t he remember that the last time he saw you, exactly one year ago, he sat you down on the same sofa, and told the same story, with all the same memorized lines that made the story super interesting the first and second years that you heard it, but that now turn the whole experience into a battle between your brain and your mouth to prevent your lips from sounding out the words as they come out of his mouth?  No, no! This story requires you to close your eyes (Okay – maybe just one eye. You can read with one eye, can’t you?), use your imagination, and experience the sheer terror of mother nature!! Heeeeeeere we gooooooo!

WavesBegin imagining. You’re standing on the beach looking at the waves crash. The waves are big. Not North Shore Hawaii big, but big enough to make you wonder if you should just take another nap on your beach towel.

Suddenly, you’re in the ocean. Your feet have left the sandy bottom and you’re treading water. You’re right at the edge of the white foam. The water is choppy and disorganized. It’s kind of hard to take a full breath. You’re not far enough out to avoid the big breakers, but only because you’re afraid to get further from the shore.

Shitfuck! Your shorts are gone. You tied them really, really tightly before you went in the water, but the ocean has taken them. They were your favorite swim trunks purchased from the full price rack. From one of those stores in the mall that sells overpriced clothing, but somehow manages to get away with it because when you walk in the store you feel like you’ve been transported out of your meager existence and into the idolized world of a tan, buff, model from California who enjoys surfing and driving around town in their open-air Jeep. (If I’m the only one that feels this way please don’t point it out.) Despite wondering if these are the last moments of your life, you fixate on the loss of these stupidly expensive shorts.  Even though you’re underwater, you blush knowing that you’ve mooned the entire beach.

Another wave pins you, and spins you, and fills your ear with sand. “DAMN IT, THERE’S SAND IN MY EAR!!” you shout in your head. Your knee hits the bottom and the salt water stings. You feel the wave loosen its grip and you frantically paddle to the surface. You swim to the top. The top is the actually the bottom and the bottom is actually the top. So you swim to what you thought was the bottom. WHOOOOSH! You explode out of the water and gasp.

This is the panicking kind of splashing.

These waves managed to trash the hell out of any sense of ego, sure-footedness, or visions of personal awesomeness that you thought came along with the swim trunks you purchased.

Safely back on the beach, people stare as you stand naked. You don’t take your eyes off the surf. The wind and waves make it difficult to hear you say it but you wrap a towel around your waist and say, “I love the ocean”.

THAT is what the first few months of boat ownership have felt like. Super fun, right?! Carlton down at the yacht brokerage probably won’t be referring anyone to this blog, now will he? It has been a twisted sense of panick, love, and pain. A challenge in the true sense that has humbled us. And we have mad respect for anyone that has already successfully navigated this path. At this point I can’t even remember where I read it, but I often think back to a quote about the personality of someone that accepts this challenge.  The person that transitions the dream of sailing to distant waters into their reality is not someone that lacks perseverance, vision, tenacity, or endurance.  So while our outward appearance is that we have remained positive through the challenges that we’ve faced, on the inside we sometimes feel like we are drowning.

The dream: A backyard of sailboats, sunsets, and sea turtles.

After reading our post about the chaos of trying to organize our efforts, we were asked what was written on each post it. Perhaps when we get that list completely organized, we will let you know. In the mean time, here are some additional thoughts that don’t make it onto a To Do list, but that certainly increase our blood pressure and anxiety levels on a regular basis.

  • Is it possible to have a clean, well organized, functioning, safe boat and not spend every dime that we work to earn in the process? Thousands of dollars had already been fire-hosed into Small World even way back in the summer when all we had done was take delivery of the beast and have her all put back together.
  • This was a boat that fit into the “meticulously maintained” category. “Open checkbook owners since 1974”. After a month of living aboard I began to realize the engine room was actually a bowl of spaghetti that was cooked in toilet water.
    1. What. Have. We. Done?
    2. What are disorganized, poorly cared-for boats like?
    3. When does this get better?
    4. ShitShitShitShitShit.
  • Are we in over our heads? Absolutely. Our boat can make electricity; it can make fresh water; it has a sewage system; it has a diesel engine; there are wires, hoses, switches, and toggles. And we have to know at least a decent amount about ALL of it. My troubleshooting ability doesn’t extend much beyond taking something apart to figure out how the hell it works. It’s a good day when I can figure out what to tighten, replace, lube, or clean to make it work again. Usually my efforts end when I’ve either broken something or I can’t figure out how to put it  all back together. I am nothing close to an engineer, electrician, carpenter, or mechanic. I am becoming a better faker though.
  • The list of what we don’t know how to do is staggering. The list of what we do know how to do is pathetic.
  • The maintenance for this boat scares me a little lotta bit. Being novice at everything makes anything intimidating and a true challenge. I really like the idea of making a formal maintenance schedule, but I’m not sure we’d be able to keep up with it.
  • Will we run out of money before we ever leave? What would we modify/upgrade/fix if we had oodles of cash?
  • We have little to no idea what we are doing (if that wasn’t already obvious). But that’s OK. That’s OK because we are telling ourselves that it’s OK. We aren’t the first couple to have this wild idea and act on it. We aren’t alone out at sea- yet. We are safely tied to the dock in Seattle, Washington. We have fantastic neighbors that have already, literally, come running to help push the boat off the dock. We are mostly comfortable in our day to day life. We have time to learn about anything and everything that puzzles us. We can read, practice, make mistakes,  and learn.
  • There is challenge in this adventure and that is what we have to accept.
  • Why does the refrigerator motor sound like one of those plastic clapper noisemakers?


6 thoughts on “Just Keep Swimming

  1. “After a month of living aboard I began to realize the engine room was actually a bowl of spaghetti that was cooked in toilet water.” Shakespeare himself could not have written a better metaphor.


  2. Hi guys. I agree Krystle rocks. Hang in there. You both have what it takes to make your dreams happen.


  3. Remember, this is fun. This is what everybody wants to do. Success is acheived by getting to a point where one realizes what they do not know and seeks assistance with it. Forging blindly through assures a visit to the Marianas Trench. Oh, and yes, with bathing gear and underwear retail’s goal is to get you think that when you put “it” on you turn into the fanatasy you associate with the garment. Damn- sure wish that were true. Come to think of it, in the 70’s that was true for Levis 501s.


  4. Awesome post! Living aboard isn’t always quite what you’d imagine but wait until the day you finally set sail, there is nothing quite like it. And don’t let the boat scare you… holler if you need some advice/encouragement!


  5. dear kraigle ~ this post reminds me of “princess bride” with romance, adventure, humor and the promise of a happy ending! when things get rough, remember those 3 words… “as you wish.”
    p,s, love-from-the-mother


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