Monday, July 18, 2011

Training Wheels

We spent almost four years living in a box, eight months living in a rolling box and three years living in a floating box. Believe it or not, there is a method to our madness. Some people tell us we need to be sailing. We need to just get out there and "do it." And we intend to. When we're ready.

As far as sailing goes, Ben and I are both humble. Neither of us would call ourselves sailors. We understand that we have a lot to learn. And on the ever-changing blue highway, there are many things we will have to learn as things happen. But some things we can be prepared for. And we feel pretty good about our preparation to date.

Over the past few years, we've been practicing. Not always on the boat. Sometimes in a car, a plane, a bus, a motorhome. The skills we've acquired are no less useful because we acquired them on land.

Before moving aboard a sailboat, we spent 8 months in a motorhome getting accustomed to living in a tight space. Ben designed our solar electricity system so that I could continue working from home. We learned how to provision water and propane - both of which are even more difficult to come by on the water. We learned how to live with [what I used to think was] the world's smallest refrigerator. 

In the past two summers, we've driven over 10,000 miles in a car back and forth across the USA. Some of you might wonder what a road trip could possibly have to do with sailing. For us, it's simple. Road-tripping is like sailing with training wheels. It's learning how to keep watch in a controlled environment. Four hour shifts behind the wheel of a car, (or better yet, asleep in the passenger seat completely at the mercy of the helmsman), teaches trust. Together, we've practiced navigation on land with plenty of room for error. We learned how well we work together as a team, even in bad situations (maybe even more so in bad situations!). Ben learned that he can trust my judgment and I learned that I can trust his, for real. These are not things either one of us wants to leave to chance in the middle of the ocean.

Last summer, Ben and I traveled to Costa Rica. Aside from Mexico, this was our first taste of foreign travel together. We are firm believers in "doing as the Romans do." It seems like a good way to avoid trouble. In Costa Rica, we learned that we can be Romans, or, in this case, Ticos. We learned how to navigate a foreign country with ease. These are important skills for sailors, because... let's face it... neither one of us has much desire to sail around America for the rest of our lives.

As far as sailing experience goes, as much as we *don't* sail, we seem to sail as much or more than anyone else around here. We only began learning how to sail three years ago, and since then we've had our share of bay sails, local trips to Mission Bay and the Coronados, anchorages, etc. Ben has accumulated a good number ocean hours sailing with our friend Adam to Newport and Catalina Island. I graduated from the US Sailing Keelboat Certification course. This is not to say we don't still have a lot to learn, but we each feel pretty good about what we've learned in the past three years.

And someday, we'll go. But not because someone told us we should. We'll go when we're ready to go... And we'll most likely slip out in the middle of the night when no one is watching. So don't bother planning a farewell party! ;)

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