Life at sea
I found this passage recently. I dog-eared the page (yes, it’s in a real book made of paper!) and I keep coming back and re-reading it:
There’s nothing in the life of a sailor quite like the outbound leg of his first real sea voyage. There’s no pride like the pride he feels when he sees his vessel down on the docks with her sails neatly furled, and he knows he’s about to embark on a great adventure in her. It’s a king-crowning moment the first time you muster enough courage to leave the safety of the land behind you, the first time you watch your home port disappear over the horizon without fear. The first night at sea, the first dead calm, the first big blow and the first mesmerizing landfall – there’s just something about your first voyage that stays with you forever. And if somewhere along the way you happen to leave a little blood in the sea, or the sea gets into your blood, there’s a part of you that never comes home.-Billy Sparrow, Tranquility
That quote is so prescient right now, as we are bringing this voyage to a close and turning our sights to the next adventure. We are reminiscent, perhaps even a little teary-eyed, about our time on this stout old vessel. Over the last ten years, Halcyon has carried us something like 20,000 miles. She has been with us for our highest highs and lowest lows. She has carried us safely through storms and past cliffs and across oceans and into a thousand sunrises.
I will never forget what it felt like to cut her dock lines and sail away, not knowing if or when she would return. On our first night at sea, we motored along the Washington coast in glassy waters under a big bright moon. It was perfectly calm and quiet, but I could still feel my adrenaline pump – we were doing it, we were cruising. We had not installed any auto steerage yet, and our track from that night proves it. John and I took turns hand steering through the night, making a swooping meandering track down the chart. We have not stopped swooping and meandering since.
Only a few days later we experienced the biggest weather we’ve seen at sea – a steady 40-knot northwest gale off of Oregon, even as the robotic voice on the VHF ensured us it was blowing a pleasant 10-15. Steep angry seas piled up behind us, threatening to swamp the cockpit. But Halcyon rode up and over them with ease, taking care of her anxiety-ridden crew and cementing our trust in her capability.
That did not stop her from challenging us regularly, of course. The engine always quite at the most inopportune moments, lines chafed and sails ripped, the gooseneck broke 6 days from land, hatches leaked, she tossed us around and broke dishes in rolly anchorages, and the water tank mysteriously drained into the bilge.
Most of our challenges, though, have come from our own mistakes. We have run aground, wrapped lines in the propeller, not reefed in time, tangled the spinnaker firmly around the forestay, forgotten to close the hatches, gone sailing when we shouldn’t have, not gone sailing when we should have, dragged anchor, nearly gotten run down by a cargo ship, and lost an endless string of tools, sunglasses and boat parts overboard.
These experiences are part of our story and part of who we are now. So is the exhausted relief of a safe anchorage after a stormy passage, a hundred dolphins surfing on the bow, that perfectly balanced sail trim, the satisfaction of fixing the outboard engine on the 4th try, long peaceful spinnaker runs, spotting land after a month at sea, pulling in a perfectly sized mahi mahi, and the thousands of little joys we find in this life.
And now, it is time for Halcyon to safely and confidently take her next owners wherever they want to go. She knows what to do.
We are headed back to the Pacific Northwest soon for some new adventures. Not able to quite come to terms with a life on land, we are on the hunt for our next boat to be home in the PNW and take us cruising when we’re ready to go again.
The sea has certainly gotten into my blood, and part of me will always be out here – in the freedom and simplicity of cruising life, in the long passages and perfect anchorages, in the highest highs and the lowest lows of a life at sea.
Halcyon is officially for sale: http://halcyonwandering.com/halcyon-is-for-sale/ Please share with anyone that might be interested! (even if you’re not interested, there is a beautiful slideshow of photos at the bottom of the listing)