Thursday, February 14, 2019

1000 Blog Posts - Contemplating a Milestone

[Maryanne]Wow – that we’ve reached 1000 blog posts is hard to really comprehend. We didn’t even start blogging when we first found ourselves living on a boat together (I don’t think blogging even existed back in 2002). Anyway 1000 blog posts seemed worth commemorating and reflecting on our cruising life together.

The years march on.. 2002-2003

Recently we were featured in Portrait of a Cruiser series by Noonsite, so that had already put us in a mood to look back over our life together. Reaching 1000 blog posts keeps that feeling of gratitude for our life very much alive.

We've had a few other 5 minutes of 'fame' with the USA (Nautical Talk RadioShow on 959 WATD).

  • Kyle discussing Hurricane Sandy loss on 2012-11-18, Nautical Talk radio show WATD (959) - here. Snippets of the interview were also used on Capt. Lou's 2012 round-up show.
  • Maryanne Discussing Footprint loss on 2012-05-13, Nautical Talk radio show WATD (959) - here

The image of our life from most ‘land-lubbers’ probably involves cocktails, sunsets and smiles all the time. The reality just isn’t so. It is a ‘normal’ life we lead, in an unusual and ever changing setting. Naturally we’re not documenting all the fights, fears and frustrations for the world to see, but we are human. We’ve been hauled out too many times to count (at least once a year?), and being in the boat yard is always a mixed bag. We generally find stuff we didn’t expect even needed fixing, and we always spend way more money and time than we planned – it's stressful - but we generally get to address most of the issues on our to-do list and there are high-fives and big smiles when a job is finally completed. Cruising is so much hum-drum daily life that it is easy to forget the amazing accumulation of places we’ve managed to visit, and experience. We are so very privileged and it is good to be kicked-in-the but and made to realize that. For such milestones I’m thankful.

The years march on.. 2004-2005

We started sailing together back in 2002, and the blog in started in 2008. Prior to 2008 we’d relied on writing web pages, or sharing emails and photos with family and friends. Things have changed a lot since 2008, but thankfully the blog provider I chose (blogspot) is still going strong and we haven’t lost anything nor needed to apply any major updates – it seems seamless. If I was starting out now it might be a Facebook page, but we’ll stick with the blog and continue to add to its history of our travels.

Some facts: Since 2008 we’ve had two boats, sailed and lived in multiple different countries, I’ve had four separate jobs (on two continents), some longer than I intended, some shorter. And Kyle has finally retired from his career as an airline pilot. We’ve sailed among four continents, and travelled without the boat to another two! All has been documented here with photos and Kyle’s evocative prose (he calls it annoying jabber, but I love it).

The years march on.. 2006-2007

The documentation that exists in this blog is mostly highlights, so it is a wonderful place for me to dip into and remember the high-points and the beauty (and the occasional documented misery) of this crazy adventure.

It is a peculiar life we’ve chosen, it comes with negatives as well as the positives. The biggest negatives are without doubt the stepping away from lives with our family and friends. I started the blog initially for them, but it has become a record that we too very much appreciate. When family and friends reply to a post with a comment it is a true pleasure for us – we really appreciate the sharing.

The years march on.. 2008-2009

So - 1000 blog posts – or as Kyle’s brother Darren would say ‘a lot of words’. Cheers to you all and thanks for following along with our travels.

Over to Kyle...

[Kyle]For those of you who have managed to read our whole blog from the start, Congratulations! You have finally made it to post #1,000! “That’s a lot of words!” Indeed, it is. Here’s some more:

Maryanne and I started this blog just over eleven years ago as a way of cataloguing our experiences and providing a place where our friends and family could catch up on what we’re doing on their own time without the hassle of having to listen to us go on about it.

Back then, we had been sailing and living aboard for a little while. We were spending most of our time off sailing the length and breadth of Chesapeake Bay as much as we were able.

The years march on.. 2010-2011

We had bigger plans, though. Our initial sailing adventures gradually morphed into a larger dream to see more and more of the world at large by boat. We sat down together and worked out a detailed plan for how we were going to accomplish this. In a nutshell, our plan was: Live simply and save as much as we can. The hope was that someday we would be able to purchase a blue water boat, outfit it, and then retire early and go do some “real” sailing.

I know that I’m pretty good at accomplishing a goal when I set my mind to it, so I was pretty sure we could get away with it with the right focus. Inwardly, of course, I was terrified that something or another would throw a wrench in the works and we would forever be “about to go”. Over the years, we have met many, many people for whom circumstances intervened to derail their dreams. For us, there was no way of being sure we wouldn’t be two of them ourselves until we actually did it and our dreams slowly turned into our experiences.

The years march on.. 2012-2013

For a couple of years before we started this blog (blogs were new, then), we were, outwardly at least, indistinguishable from any of the other dreamers out there. Sure, we had a boat. Our boat was even one of the very few in the marina where we lived that actually got regular use. Apart from that, though, we were living on the same boat in the same slip in the same marina for years. We had the same jobs, drove the same beat up old car, wore the same clothes. There was little indication that we weren’t all talk, like so many others we had met. We couldn’t even be 100% certain ourselves.

Our financial situation did improve. We maxed out our pensions and paid off a mountain of debt – at first slowly and then more quickly as each debtor was crossed off of the list. It wasn’t long before there was no one left to pay and we got to keep the money we had in the bank. Then we just worked and saved and watched the balances slowly increase. My fifteen year Five-Year Plan was underway.

Eventually, after a few fits and starts, we were finally ready to do the big bank account dump and we bought and outfitted Footprint. It was a little nerve wracking because we had to go from habitually saving every penny we could to spending way more than we made each month to get everything in order. After all of those years, it finally looked like we were about to do something.

That’s when “Start a blog” finally made it to the top of our to-do list.

At that point, Maryanne and I had sailed about 6,000 nautical miles together, lived on a boat, worked on a boat, took classes and loads of tests together. We test-sailed Footprint until we could find our way around her decks and through her cabin in the dark. We knew the future was a big unknown, but we felt pretty confident we had done all we could to prepare for it.

The years march on.. 2016-2017

Then Spring came. Maryanne quit her job, we told the marina we were leaving and wouldn’t be coming back, and then we left. Since then, we sailed Footprint 17,000 miles together before we lost her. It took us another year after that to find Begonia and re-do most of the same outfitting list we had done for Footprint. Then we were once again ready to resume our lost cruising life.

Our pensions finally reached the arbitrary Magic Number in 2016 and I was finally able to retire from my job. People occasionally remark that we must be independently wealthy. That’s a stretch, but we do have enough to feed ourselves and keep the boat running without having to have jobs to do it. That has opened up the whole world for us as a cruising ground.

We are now at Stewart Island, New Zealand and Begonia’s log reads over 43,000 nautical miles. We have now sailed over 65,000 miles together – 59,000 since we started this blog. That’s enough to circle the globe, if the globe was a lot bigger. I’m glad it’s not. The extra gravity would be a real killer.

We haven’t actually managed to sail around the world. We seem to keep getting lost. Here’s some stats: Since starting the blog, we have made it as far east as 27° East (Turkey) to as far west as 166° East longitude (Fiordland)– a span of 221°, or 61% of the Earth’s longitude. For latitude, we have sailed as far north as 61° North (Norway) and as far south as 47° South (Stewart Island) – a span of 108°, or 60% of the Earth’s latitude. Since Footprint and Begonia have been to some of the same places, that means we have sailed across all of those lines of latitude and longitude at least once.

The years march on.. 2014-2015

Since we started the blog, we have flown around 30 different courtesy flags as a visiting yacht to foreign countries.

The biggest waves we have encountered were 7.5 meters, sailing Footprint across the North Atlantic in 2009.

The highest winds we’ve seen while underway were 60 knots in Greece in 2011.

The furthest we have ever been from the nearest land was 1,210 nautical miles in the South Pacific on the way to Chile in 2018.

The nicest place we’ve ever been: We get asked that a lot. There is no good answer. We have been to many wonderful places. Almost all of them have something special and unique about them that can’t be found anywhere else. Each seems amazing at the time, so the question ends up being like, “Which is better, pizza or ice cream?” They’re both yummy, but they’re both so different. What you like more depends on your mood at the time. Usually, our mood at the time is heavily weighted to where we are at the moment.

Since starting the blog, we have gone from one regular reader (Hi, Mom!) to five – a 400% increase!

In the intervening years, we have gone almost imperceptibly from wide-eyed newbies to old salts. There was once a sign posted at work congratulating one of our pilots on reaching his thirtieth year with the company. When I saw him next, I added my congratulations and shook his hand. His response was, “I didn’t do anything. I just kept coming to work.”

I guess Maryanne and I have just kept sailing. I noticed recently when meeting a bunch of other cruisers and hearing their background stories that Maryanne and I had somehow managed to become the most experienced of the bunch. How did that happen?

The years march on... 2018-2019

In addition to all of the sailing, which understandably constitutes the bulk of our lives, There’s a few posts about some of the off-boat travels we have done, like our trips to Tanzania and Antarctica and our hiking in America’s National Parks. There’s also a few random rants in there from when I just needed to vent.

Generally speaking, I write the bulk of the text. Maryanne will then add her own comments correcting me or adding in her own perspective. Then she selects photos to match and does all of the production work to get each entry posted. It’s been a while since we’ve had any internet whatsoever, so we’ve got a few more in the chute to post after this one. Thanks for following along with us!

Hi, Mom!

The End. No more words.. Just more pictures...

The Tradition of the flag raising ceremony as we enter a new country by boat

The traditional flag raising ceremony
Note: no USA flag as boat doesn't need to fly the USA courtesy flag, and a couple of others were missed (sigh)

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