So we spent three weeks on a boat together. Lots of folks (that’s a word people say, right? Folks. Follllks. Fo’ks. Huh…) ask about what it is like to be trapped in a small space with other people for an extended period of time. To be fair, we weren’t really trapped, there were other people around, and it really wasn’t THAT long of a trip. But we thought you might enjoy the following interviews about the trip and life aboard in general. And I solemnly swear to stop posting about this trip. It’s over. I’m moving on. I’m totally zen.
If you just wanna watch a video, then fine. Slacker.
On a scale of 1 to Napoleon Dynamite, how awkward was it to be around Krystle and Craig when they were “not fighting”?
Well, on that scale I’d say it’s a solid “awkward turtle.” I can only imagine how hard it is to live in such tight quarters with your partner and then add a third person watching everything go down and the space gets a whole lot smaller!
What will be your go-to story you tell all of your friends when they ask about the trip to make them laugh?
It’s pretty hard to beat a story about a grown man peeing his bed. I mean, what’s better than that? Ok that and some pretty sweet sailing, and lots and lots of fun!
Who is your favorite? Krystle or Craig?
Mean. Just mean. And seeing as how Krystle wrote this question I have an idea of what the answer is supposed to be. . .
In all seriousness, when I first met Krystle back in 2008 at SEA Semester she and Craig were off-again and as a good friend I was happy to join the bandwagon of helping Krystle get over Craig. Not knowing him, this was easy to do! But, wow am I glad Krystle was very unsuccessful in moving on because as awesome as Krystle is, Craig is just as great, and together they are so. much. fun!
Which of the San Juan Islands is your favorite and why?
This is such a tough question because the islands have such different personalities and things going on. Orcas will (hopefully) always feel like home- with friends and some social stuff and a bit of civilization I could totally imagine actually living there. Some of the smaller islands are really special though, like James and Clark and Patos. Oh, and Cypress is off the beaten track and truly beautiful. Ok, basically I can’t choose!
What do you think is happening on Spieden Island?
There is definitely an underground secret lair Dr. Evil/James Bond villain style. The African game animals and old buildings are just to throw you off. Not-so-secretly I’d like to sneak on the island and check it all out.
What was your favorite moment during the trip?
Wow, so hard to pinpoint just one moment, it all was so much fun. I think my favorite feeling or essence of the trip, beyond sailing, was the down time with the two of you. Playing Skip-bo, drinking dark and stormies, ranting about politics, thinking about life- it’s what true friendship is all about and I am so thankful and happy to be able to share the time with you.
Will you describe for the readers the smell of the pump-out station in Reid Harbor?
It came in wafts.
Which was almost worse. If there had been a continuous terrible smell you’d be ready for it and mouth breathe continuously. But the smell came and went and you’d think you were safe and then all of a sudden it would hit you and you’d be gagging and nearly throwing up because not only could you smell it, but you could taste it. It literally smell-tasted like poop, old, decaying poop, was in your mouth. There’s not much worse out there! In fact I think writing this is bringing back some nightmares. It’s a difficult skill to breathe through your mouth, but to keep your mouth closed, and I’m not sure I’ve fully mastered it yet.
Despite sharing a small space, having minimal privacy, and being in stressful situations we all get along together really well. Why do you think that is?
I think we all have a similar goal in mind on our trips and time together. Fun, sailing, some lists of projects, but not too many more expectations and we are willing to roll with whatever the day or sea puts before us. The flexibility to stay another day or sail or motor as needed allows us to just enjoy the time and be in the moment. This is true for my time sailing with the two of you, not the rest of my life. If I could be more easy going in the rest of my life I think I would solve a lot of problems with blood pressure, gray hairs, and anxious, stressed muscles.
What is one thing that you had hoped would happen but didn’t happen?
WHALES! Where were the goddamned whales?!?!
I wish the weather had been better so we could have hiked on Cypress because the view is so amazing. Also I wanted to string up my hammock somewhere and take a nap or read a book, but I’m ok that that didn’t happen. But seriously, I wanted to see whales.
We’ve all read about my Donut Challenge victory. What are some of the other incredible acts of bravery that you witnessed during the voyage?
Krystle wins an award for getting back into bed with you the night after the peeing the bed incident. Serious courage to face a potential pee bed again.
Craig for the day your poop wouldn’t orient itself correctly to flush and you gamely donned a nitrile glove and “helped” it on its way.
Does it say something that the first things that come to mind have to do with bodily fluids??
Both Krystle and Craig for allowing me to third wheel their life and vacation. I’m great and all, but I’m sure having some along time with out a friend on your couch in your 42 foot home would have been nice occasionally too. Thanks for allowing me to come along!
At any time during the trip, did you fear for your life? If not, why not?
Fear for my life?! This shit is starting off intense! The only time I heard a nagging voice in the back of my head saying, “don’t do anything stupid now” was when I was troubleshooting the batteries while we were making our way into Penn Cove. Even though I know 12V DC is “safe” I always think about what would happen if I shocked the bejeezus out of myself.
Please describe, in detail, the feature of Small World (or Zubie) that you appreciated most during the trip.
I’m going to talk about Zubie since this was our first chance to get to know the little guy. What I appreciated most about Zubie was that the boat took everything that we threw at him. We rowed the boat, towed the boat, beached the boat, moored the boat, played bumper boats with the boat, hoisted the boat, threw a motor on the boat, kedged out a 45 lb anchor with the boat, had 4 adult humans, backpacks, and several boxes of gear simultaneously in the boat, and eventually we even sailed the boat. And through all that not a word of complaint!
If you could change something from the trip, what would it be?
We wouldn’t have come back! I’m not overlooking the fact that we spent three glorious weeks in the beautiful San Juans and had limited issues with the boat for the duration of the trip, got along famously, and had an overall fantastic time. I am hugely grateful for all of that and I know many people will never have the chance to live a similar experience. However. Another 3, 6, 52 weeks up there would have been juuuuuuust fine by me!
Based on lessons learned, how do you plan on provisioning sufficient amounts of ginger beer for Dark and Stormies?
There was a bit of storage under the aft bunk that went entirely unused. Thanks to years of playing Tetris I can estimate that at least 24 additional ginger beers could have been tucked away in the aft cabin and thus prevented The Great Dark & Stormy Shortage of 2015.
What is the most important lesson learned from this year’s trip?
That we can do it. In my mind this trip was the first time that we’d crossed this imaginary threshold of being newbie, timid, posers and began walking the walk. We crossed the freaking Strait of Juan de Fuca under sail. We were out for enough days that I lost count. We navigated all over this incredible network of islands that is known for its fickle winds, complex currents, dramatic tides, and commercial traffic that includes the likes of ferries, float planes, and giant cargo ships. We opted to avoid marinas which meant we anchored the boat, caught a mooring ball, or rafted up with friends the entire time we were out. We sailed across Rosario Strait during a gale that blew 25+ knots and brought the boat up to 8.1 knots over ground! We overcame obstacles, made prudent decisions that protected the boat, tied lots of knots, did laundry, bought groceries, made friends, figured out new ways to do things better, and somewhere along the way reaffirmed that we can totally live like this.
What was the most harrowing/nerve-wracking experience for you this trip? Just to jog your memory events might include peeing the bed, fearlessly donning a glove to help a stubborn poop flush, or just the general three weeks of having someone live with you in close quarters.
Just to clear the record here… Peeing the bed did not scare me one bit. (I had years of practice as a child.) My gloved assist in the head, although rather disgusting, was also nothing new. (Any critical care nurse can relate to what I’m talking about.) And lastly, having Emmy aboard for three weeks was the farthest thing from harrowing or nerve-wracking! (Please come with us to California!!)
Mooooooving on. The morning we left Port Townsend. That was the most nerve-wracking. Donna, the NOAA Weather Radio voice, had informed us the night before that there was a “gaele warn-ing in effect for the eeastern Strait. of Juande Fyuca” for the next 24 hours or so. The only thing that separated the harbor in which we were anchored from the Strait itself is the town of Port Townsend. So the wind was very present and it was obvious that it was trying to get somewhere in a hurry. As we sat down for dinner it kept pushing the boat all over the place trying to get to wherever it was going. The scenario in the morning was as follows: Never had we ever been across the Strait onSmall World and even though I knew she could take whatever beating Neptune threw at us I was definitely aware that we were choosing to cross a large body of water, with unobstructed ocean swell, during a gale warning. We had a pretty small window of time to round Point Wilson otherwise we’d be facing a situation similar to the one described in the guidebook where a big powerboat nearly got destroyed in the swirling, stacking, ugly tidal waves. And then to top it all off that was the morning that I dropped the oarlock into the deep blue sea and went on a cursing rampage. So I was all frazzled, frustrated, and somewhere between mild to moderately intimidated.
Which island that we visited did you like so much you’d like to go back, and is there another one we didn’t visit that you’d like to see?
Well Lopez and Orcas had blackberry bushes soooo I’m partial. Ha! Honestly though this is a hard question to answer. Each of the islands offers something unique and I spent most days just happy that we were “out there” on Small World! I think the only place that we went that I wasn’t too stoked on was Rosario on Orcas Island. Perhaps because of the 5.5 anchorings…who knows. Reid Harbor on Stuart was hard to beat. Great protection, plenty of room for lots of boats, good thick mud on the sea floor for solid anchoring, not far from civilization (Roche Harbor), a network of hiking trails on the island. By the time we were there for a couple days it felt like the trip was actually happening. And Stuart Island is home to Turn Point which is famous as an Orca hotspot. So since we didn’t see any whales on this trip I’d like to go back to Stuart and spend an entire day with my booty planted next to the lighthouse at Turn Point waiting to see a spray of whale exhaust rise off the water! Cypress was the big teaser. We weren’t even there for 24 hours and we only had time for a quick run to shore. I know we missed some cool stuff there. I consider it an island that we didn’t visit and one that I’d like to see next time.
Let’s talk futz (is that how you spell it?!) list. What are you most proud of accomplishing, what did you wish you accomplished, and what got added to the list because of the trip?
Most proud of futz: Getting the outboard motor working. It was in the chaos of the last few days before we left that a new-to-us outboard motor was purchased. Zubie is a little tall off the water therefore a longshaft outboard is required. Krystle found one for sale on craigslist, Emmy and I drove out to Issaquah to test it out, it didn’t perform flawlessly, we bought the thing anyway because it was our best option in the moment, and then we didn’t try it on the dinghy until we were anchored in Port Ludlow. Well the thing huffed, and puffed, and would stall when in idle. We bought some magic engine goop on Lopez Island that I put in the gas tank to help clean up the innards of the motor. And then when we were sitting at anchor in Reid Harbor I did some minor surgery on the carburetor and sprayed some magic carb goop (different than the magic engine goop) that Jeff let me borrow into the idle jet (and also a little in my eye)… I wouldn’t advise that last part. Burned a wee bit. At any rate everyone was off hiking while this was going on so I lowered the motor onto Zubie all by myself, pulled the starter cord, and the thing roared to life like Leo the Lion and didn’t stall in idle! We would have been up Shit Creek the whole trip without a working motor so I was pretty excited about the outcome of all that futzin!
Wish I had finished futz: I really wanted to have a rave in the cockpit with some disco light action! I got as far as drilling the hole in the deck and running the wire for the new programmable LED dodger light strip, but I didn’t finish wiring everything up.
Added to the list of futz: Oh lordy. I’m not sure if many things got added to be honest. After seeing all of Brenda’s amazing handiwork Krystle now has an entire list of things to sew with a Sailrite though. I think what happened was that we became more aware of the importance of completing some projects that were already on the list. Like installing dodger windows, re-insulating the fridge/freezer, figuring out a DC/AC inverter solution, learning to use the watermaker, installing the two solar panels that we left behind for this trip, servicing the wind generator, fixing the port water tank leak, etc.
What’s one of your favorite memories of the trip in general?
A generalized favorite memory would be how much fun it was having absolutely no plan. And how having no plan meant we could do things like row the dinghy over to a gigantic jelly fish. Or tack up Eastsound like 12 times to get to our destination because there was good wind and we had no reason not to take it slow. Or how having no plan meant we could spend time with Adventurer and Seascape, go separate ways, then meet up again somewhere new. Or how we could decide whether to take the boat through Deception Pass or across the Strait of Juan de Fuca again, anchor at Hunter Bay or Spencer Spit, spend the afternoon picking blackberries or chasing down seaglass on the beach. Simply put my favorite memory was finally feeling the freedom of this dream that we’ve been chasing down.
If you could leave for good tomorrow would you, and where would you head first?
My instinctual response would be to say “Hell yes!” and that I’d go right back to the San Juans. After three weeks out I felt like I was picking up the rhythm of a new life. I’ve been trying to learn to trust in the unknown. To appreciate that this life we want to live means we will constantly be problem solving and therefore we will always find ways to get shit done. I knew it already but this trip showed me that all the projects do not need to be completed before we chop the docklines. I was able to get a ton of futzin done while we were out and that was incredibly encouraging to me- because I have a futzin addiction. Must have something to futz with always. I know that what we spend time doing this next year will be meaningful and/or important. And I also know that if we turned around and left tomorrow that everything would be OK.
Next year when “Small World” sails the San Juan’s I will __________.
Make sure the boat sits still for several days in a row at more of the destinations! I enjoyed getting the time to explore the islands, and that only happened if we stayed put for a bit.
What upgrade/project that was completed in the last year made the biggest difference in helping ensure our trip was a success?
All of the engine work! We never would’ve been able to leave the dock if the engine wasn’t up and running. She ran like a champ for the entire trip!
When were you most impressed with Emmy’s stellar contribution as First Mate and Craig’s remarkable abilities as Captain?
Without exaggeration – every minute of every day. Emily is always helping with any project that is happening, with planning, with chores, and always has a smile on her face. Craig just doesn’t stop moving. The sheer number of small projects and general futzing is mind blowing. I couldn’t dream up a better team.
Did you ever feel like a badass, salty cruiser during the trip? If so, when?
I think I was too nervous about running aground or breaking something important to feel salty. But if I had to pick, I guess it would be the day we went down Rosario Strait. The wind was pretty stiff and we were even wearing our foulies. As the wind increased, it felt like we were all aware and making smart decisions before getting ourselves into trouble. I think it could have been a very different day, but we were able to sail to our next destination without any serious issues.
What memory will stick with you as a lifelong reminder of that time you spent three weeks in the beautiful San Juan Islands aboard your trusty ship?
Nearly impossible to narrow this down. I look back and so many memories leap to mind. Orcasa would’ve been the trump card, but they were shy this year. One particularly fond memory was the day that Emmy and I went ashore at Sucia Island. I’ve never been confident when driving the dinghy – especially starting the outboard motor. But I did it – like a goddamned adult! So I got a boost of confidence and a trip to a hot sandy beach. Win-win.
If you had unlimited time in the San Juan’s how long would you spend there and where would you be during that time?
Ohhhhh man! Uhhhhhh…… uhhhhh… I have no idea. There is so much to see, but I’m not really interested in being up there during the winter. So I would absolutely spend at least several summers up there. It would take a while to set up spy equipment to figure out what the hell is happening on Speiden Island. At least. But eventually I would get the bug to continue exploring other areas.
What event, joke, incident, accent of Craig’s, etc. made you laugh the most?
He didn’t think it was funny, but I laugh every time I think about him accidentally launching the oar lock for the dinghy over board. He was immediately irate and there was nothing to be done. It was just such a classic Craig moment.
How does sailing and living on a sail boat with your partner make you better as a couple? What’s challenging?
Everything is challenging at some point. Just existing in a small space can become overwhelming. But it forces us to be honest and work through any disagreements. We have to be effective at communicating quickly – because sometimes shit hits the fan and you have to be able to say what you mean. There’s no time for hemming and hawing!
What was your favorite moment of the trip? What was your least favorite?
I don’t like this question! I refuse to answer it! Ugh. Too many options for good memories and I’ve already blocked out anything bad.
If you could go back in time to Krystle-right-before-SEA-Semester what would you tell her?
I’d tell myself to follow Mamita’s advice and find myself a Tahitian lover. What the hell was I thinking?? That I was gonna get any hotter???
If you stuck around and read the whole thing – just know that I love you. You’re a special sort of friend. I shall reward you with these amazing photos of Emmy and me in our matching outfits. Because we’re soul mates. Duh.