Oh Lord, Won’t You Buy Me a Mercedes-Benz
On the evening of the 27th, I was FINALLY ready to leave the dock. The last two weeks in the boatyard marina had driven me to the brink of boat hatred. It seemed no matter how hard I worked to wrap up the last projects, I found new things broken or needing attention. The prop shaft had to be aligned, so I was at the mercy of the mechanic’s schedule to have Swell’s engine running. Aside from all the broken stuff, getting Swell back in floating order required a massive undertaking of sorting and reorganizing. The English couple beside me seemed rather appalled while Swell’s decks looked like a junkyard, but there was nothing I could do but smile apologetically and keep my music at a neighborly volume through the process…
The sun had set when Taputu cast me off from the dock. I felt as if I might collapse from fatigue, but I would have given anything to wake up the next morning free of docklines and what could happen in 150 yards to the nearest mooring buoy?
I slipped past the jetty wall and spotted my crotchety ol’ hermit friend, Helmut, rowing toward me in his rowboat. I slipped the transmission into neutral and glided for a moment to let him catch up. Just before he got to Swell, I looked over the starboard side and saw that the sea’s color had changed from deep blue to light turquoise. I was a few feet too far right in the unmarked channel and about to collide with a coral head!?!!?!
My brain lurched into shock and panic, picturing myself having to haul the boat out again to repair a new hole in Swell’s keel. Utterly horrified at the thought, I slammed the engine in reverse and revved it to a roar. I braced for impact, but Swell barely missed the coral and spun away into safe water. I instantly burst into tears.
Helmut pulled alongside. “The channel is just there,” he pointed, holding Swell’s rail.
“Thank you.” I choked through a sob. He’d never seen me without a smile, and by his baffled look, I knew my tears had startled him. His characteristically grumpy old self softened like old leather. “It’s okay,” he cooed. “We all hit the reef once in a while.”
“Well I do NOT want to hit it now!?” I replied. I went wide around the coral and then headed for an open buoy. He followed me with rapid pulls on his oars and helped secure me to the mooring.
“I’m sorry to cry, Helmut.” I whimpered. “I’m just so tired. I’m soooo tired. I just don’t know if I can do this anymore…”
“Get some rest, kid. You’ll feel better tomorrow.”
As he rowed away I secured the end of the line, then collapsed into a heap on the foredeck. I wept a little and the evening breeze cooled the lines of my tears. I mulled over what had almost happened. I wondered if I was still cut out for this life. It seemed like ages since I had been at sea. “Maybe I was just lucky to make it this far. Maybe I should stop while I’m ahead. I just can’t keep up with all the boatwork anymore…” I thought.
The gray sky deepened in shades until stars began to flicker overhead. Then a glow cast toward the heavens from behind the mountain. A nearly full moon peered slowly over the ridge. I took a deep breath, curled up against my surfboard bag on a pile of anchor rode, and let the moon bathe me in its sweet, soft moonbeams until I fell asleep.
spencerMay 16, 2010
I just wanted to say that every journey has its tribulations and while it seems at times they are insurmountable, I hope as soon as the fresh sea breeze is rushing across your face and your course is set for parts unknown you’ll find the joy in the journey again. And I hope you know that you are an inspiration for many many people still dreaming. I hope to come across you if I ever get my own aspirations out of my head and into the water, till then I’ll be following yours. Cheers from New Orleans,
Jealous readerMay 16, 2010
I follow your blog quite faithfully. I won’t say that you’re lucky to be living the life that you are, because to say so would undermine the blood, sweat and tears that you have invested in it. It’s kind of a pet peeve of mine when people say “Oh, you’re so lucky to …”. More often than not, the appearance of luck” is actually the sum of many, many, many not-so-lucky -feeling days, spent working toward that moment.
My point is, nothing comes naturally. While our strides today may seem as second nature, they were once wobbly and frequently punctuated with tumbles. I’d bet that you were not naturally cut out to be a master mariner when you first began your adventure. I’d imagine that you became comfortable and competent not through some divinely imparted salty talent, but through countless learning experiences.
I’m rambling, but that feeling of confidence.. it’ll come back. In the mean time, thank you for being an inspiration to those of us who have not yet had the courage (or timing) to cut our bowlines, and embark upon our own learning experience. =)
Brett AMay 16, 2010
You are more than cut out for it still. I first encountered your blog a few years back and it has inspired me ever since. I have quit my job and am finally throwing off the bowlines and heading out with my 15 year-old daughter to explore the world this fall, thanks, in part, to the inspiration you have provided. Keep it up!
steveMay 16, 2010
You’re not done. Rest, surf, refresh your self then gaze to the horizon and cast off. Your fans need your adventure and insight. Fair winds and following seas.
Cabana BoyMay 17, 2010
I been there Kid…….Keep It Up Your Doin Fine…….
The Patagonia Lifestyle
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than those you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the wind in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
The Gypsy Life…
JerryMay 17, 2010
LETS GO SAILING!!!!!!!!!!
NinaMay 17, 2010
This is the first time I’ve posted something here, but I love your blog and check it every day. I’m sure there are many others like me who don’t post but regularly read your blog. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your adventures with all of us. Fair winds, Lizzie :)
Ky DelaneyMay 17, 2010
I really appreciated your honesty in this posting. The highs are really good, but the lows can sometimes find you alone and overwhelmed. What you are doing is truly amazing, and maybe taking a rest day might help to rejuvenate!
Bill HumphreysMay 17, 2010
I disagree with Steve. You are done when you know you are done. Problem is you are never sure about it until you are really done. You will kill to get away from it, and all of its problems. It is rage, unending rage.
Then you can start on the new problems. Life is problems and how you deal with them. I never knew I was done until I had a chance to get out of the Army. Then I knew. They drafted me, and wanted to keep me. I was done.
Then you deal with ‘why am I doing this?’. The answer is easy, because you like it. The highs beat the lows. Anything will test you, that is why we live this life. That is at the soul, or spirit, level, not the physical level. I love your line ‘The test never ends’. I call that last week in the boatyard ‘finish line fever’. Answer: You do things for yourself, not your fans. Your fans will cheer when you jump off a cliff into a volcano. They just want to cheer. This time your friend distracted you, your exhaustion distracted you, and your self preservation saved your boat from another scratch. You are doing just fine. Do what you like, and like what you do. Taking a break is necessary for the physical self, so do it. Especially after a big test. Find a favorite anchorage, with a small rideable break, and chill for a while. Recharge you own batteries. Play your music too loud. Check out the next sunrise. Then decide what you will do next. Its like going to Catalina for a week after leaving California for a cruise. You have to readjust your speed. Good job on the shaft log. You did the best and hardest fix in the most remote spot. It got you a year in islands that don’t want you staying that long… Anyway, I will be your friend even if you choose to be a crack addict in Santa Barbara. By the way, the boat looks good.
John PhillipsMay 18, 2010
Hang in there Liz I’ve been reading your stories since I seen your story in a Magazine. You have inspired me in many ways. I check this page every day clawing for more of your adventure. I would hate to lose you to your own adventure . Take a break , get some rest and refresh your batteries. If there is anything I or we can do to help let us know. I would be glad to have a swell book also if you could tell me where I can get one when they are ready.
MikeMay 18, 2010
Beth and I know the heartache of the relentless, seemingly never ending, yard work. Our Cal-40, Celtic Naut, is still in the yard after a lightning strike a year and a half ago. Beth and I have had to go back to work to afford repairs/modifications and it seems like we are stuck in the same rut we were in before we set out on our grand adventure. (You know; house, career, cars etc.) Yet we still have our dream of casting off and are doing our best to make it happen. It’s hard to maintain a positive attitude at times but I just know it will all be worth it. I suspect that you do too or nearly hitting that coral head wouldn’t have sent you to tears. We all second guess our abilities after a serious string of setbacks. You have made it this far. That, in and of itself, shows that you have serious skills. Hang in there Champ!
On a side note, Beth and I were so impressed with Fin Biven’s Radiant that we just knew that the 40 was for us. Fin allowed us to go aboard without ever meeting him, We explained to him that I had a Cal-25 and Beth had a Cal-27 and we were interested in the 40. He couldn’t be there when we arrived but was cool enough to leave lights on and Sirius radio playing Hawaiian music. How cool was that? It doesn’t surprise me a bit that he jumped in to give you a hand when you needed it. I’m glad he did.
Hallie TMay 18, 2010
You got one thing over Janis: you work hard all your life, but with LOTS of help from your friends.
HallieMay 19, 2010
You got one thing over Janis. You work hard all your life, but with LOTS of help from your friends!
StevenpaloozaMay 28, 2010
Awe Liz. I can only imagine the frustration sometimes. You are a Champion girl! We believe in you. Be encouraged. I’m praying for ya! By-the-way, your “Helmut” friend is a riot! I chuckled aloud when you tried to speak French to him, and he replied in a Geramn accent, “You’re French is terrible! Speak English!” Heh! I’m always glad when I take the time to read your blogs. I just think you are the greatest Liz! P.S. I’m working on the sticker finally.