You haven’t heard from me in a while

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December 3, 2018

You haven’t heard from me in a while, and I’m sorry for that. I’m not mad at you, I promise. It’s just that it took me a while to decompress after turning back from the northwest passage. And my writing time recently has been devoted to several articles that I had promised about our arctic adventure, leaving little brain power for blogging.

But I’ve been doing some math (I do love numbers) and have some statistics to illustrate what we’ve been up to. We left Halcyon in the comprehensive care of Vista Mar Marina on April 23rd, 2018 and I didn’t see her again until November 20th (less than 2 weeks ago). That is 211 consecutive nights that I spent in guest rooms, hotel beds, airplanes, small boat cabins, tents, couches, anywhere but my own bed (which, granted, is also in a small boat cabin… but it’s my own small boat cabin!)  

In those seven months we took 17 flights, sailed 7,700 sea miles, explored at least 19 islands, and visited 4 countries (this last one sounds somewhat unimpressive, but we did sail all the way around Alaska, which is the size of approximately 10 eastern European countries combined…). I wrote over 22,000 words that have been (or will be) published, and John took something like 30,000 photos. 

This adventuring required a whole lot of gear. When we left Hawaii, we traveled with 340 pounds of stuff in 10 bags. We then carted some combination of this luggage through Seattle, Virginia, Brazil, San Francisco and – finally – Panama. Along the way, we added 150 pounds of boat parts to the mix. 

 

 After getting to know the arctic environment of low-lying tundra and bergy bits, the steep rugged green mountains of Hawaii took our breath away. Then, when we returned to the mainland, I took myself on a self-prescribed writing retreat to Summerlin, just outside of Las Vegas, where my generous friend Nicole let me her guest room and WiFi, fed me delicious food and even took me out on the strip (Once. Which is plenty). The craggy red desert landscape shocked my system once again, and the desert air, seemingly absent of a single drop of moisture, turned my eyes a fiery red.

In November, we joined my family on a trip to the Amazon river in Brazil. The fourth drastically different climate zone I’d seen in two months, this one contained dense jungle, poisonous snakes, cheeky monkeys, and the largest river system in the world.

One of the highlights of our Brazil adventure was getting to swim with Amazon river dolphins. These gentle creatures have pink skin, though nobody could quite explain how they have turned pink (it is not a product of eating shrimp, like for flamingos). Regardless, they are amazing. We spent an hour in the water with them, as they rubbed against our legs, leapt out of the water for fish, and accidentally knocked our feet out from under us with their powerful tails. We also got to snuggle with monkeys, drink water from a vine, pet a caiman, make gunpowder from tree sap, and play lots of cards.

After our trip to the Amazon, we squeezed in some serious family time in Virginia – celebrating birthdays, taking care of nephews, visiting grandmas, and caring for moms after hip surgeries (ouch). And then finally – finally – at the end of November, we returned home to Halcyon in Panama.

We promptly dove in to project-mode, this time focused in the engine room. After a few stressful passages last season and much deliberation, we have decided to give Halcyon a heart transplant. We are retiring her 42-year-old engine (a Westerbeke 4-107) and installing a brand new shiny red Beta 50. There will certainly be more on that install to come.

Once Halcyon’s heart is purring along, we will untie the lines, explore the coast for a few months, then take the leap and sail across the Pacific Ocean. So stay tuned (can I ask you to do that, even though I’ve neglected you recently?) because it’s going to be an awesome season.

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John and Becca Guillote

Becca is the writer. She tells vivid stories of authentic moments, highlighting the beautiful, dangerous, dramatic and hilarious with grammatically correct sentences and her tongue held firmly by her cheek.                                                                          
John is the photographer. He portrays the layers of history, emotion, spirit and culture in each moment through his application of light, perspective, and detail. He also takes pictures.

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Our Northwest Passage adventure is on a sailboat named DogBark with Talia (12 y/o) and Savai (9 y/o). They are wonderful writers, and this is their blog. Please follow them too!

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