25 February 2013

Cruising has made us bi-polar

We've just celebrated our sixteen-month cruisiversary.  We're like toddlers: you keep counting by months for the first couple of years, right?  We've been out here, living and learning....  wondering what the HELL we've got ourselves into....

Bananas ripening at Coco Banderos Cays
But now, I have a major breakthrough to report.  We have made a quantum leap in our understanding of the cruising life.  As Ean was writing his three-part series about our "adventures" in Kuna Yala, we came to this realization: cruising has made us bi-polar.

I don't suppose that we meet DSM standards to actually be diagnosed by a mental health professional, and I certainly don't mean to make light of what can be a crippling disease.  But now that it's dawned on us, we can find no better way to describe the mental state that for us has been a primary "side effect" of cruising.  Sure, I had highs and lows before we moved aboard JOY.  We had good days and bad days, sad moments and happy moments.

But since we started cruising, the spread between high and low has been wider. The highs are higher, the lows are lower, and the speed at which we travel between the extremes is whiplash-inducing.  Joys and sorrows.  Boredom and terror.  Wonder and dismay.  The past three weeks have been a microcosm.  It reminds me of that cartoon depiction of a dog's life, where she greets each event with either MY FAVORITE! or BUMMER!

Snorkeling off Isla Tintipan
Leaving Cartagena, heading for San Blas and the world: MY FAVORITE!

Anchored in 25 knots of wind on the windward side of Isla Grande, afraid that we're going to drag onto the rocks:  BUMMER!

Anchored off the lee shore of Isla Tintipan, tucked in, safe and sound, and I'm snorkeling in ten feet of gin-clear water: MY FAVORITE!

We start our passage to Panama with no wind, but the seas are big and lumpy and on the beam: BUMMER!

Arriving at Tupbak in Kuna Yala in the early afternoon, after a nice overnight sail: MY FAVORITE!

Ean has already written about stupendous Ustupu, Sally the starboard engine on strike, the GROSS grounding, our hero Amelio and his ulu, our wind-on-the-nose squally sail, the ups and downs of Elvis the generator, and a perfect drinks-and-dinner moment in the cockpit (MY FAVORITE, BUMMER, BUMMER, MY FAVORITE, BUMMER, BUMMER, MY FAVORITE, MY FAVORITE).

Andres from Ustupu helped us translate more JOY everywhere! into the Kuna language.
Both the rudder and the coral head were a little the worse for wear after their encounter.
The next day we had the most beautiful sail that anyone could ask for.  We had planned to stop at Nargana, but it was such a wonderful sail that we decided to go to Coco Banderos.  But then we kept sailing on to Holandes Cays. We just couldn't stop.  MY FAVORITE!

This is the kind of sailing day it was.  We weren't the only ones out enjoying it.
If you know the Canadian flagged s/v Aries, please send along this picture with our compliments.
In Nargana -  Internet: MY FAVORITE!

It looks like I'm in Nargana, but actually I'm on the WorldWideWeb, baby!
But then the internet was down and Nargana was out of coca cola.  BUMMER!  But when the coca-cola boat arrived, I bought a few bottles to go with the big bottle of Abuelo rum we found at the billiard hall: MY FAVORITE!  The island is covered in trash: BUMMER!

Molas from a master mola maker: MY FAVORITE!

We went to Mormaketupu (Mola Makers' Island) and bought molas from Venancio
Here's one of the molas we bought - learn more about this Kuna art form here.
I stupidly wrapped the dinghy line around the prop while we were anchoring later that afternoon: BUMMER!

Hanging with friends (who had sailed from Cartagena ahead of us): MY FAVORITE!

We first met Kirk (s/v Salsa) in Cartagena, where he had just completed his circumnavigation.
We had a couple beers with him in Lemon Cays.
And on and on it goes.  Getting into a slip at Shelter Bay Marina on a windy afternoon with one engine: BUMMER!  But then here we are, and we're getting big hugs from our buddies Arjan and Maia from s/v Skye: MY FAVORITE!

There are peaks and troughs.  We are learning to let the highs lift us: to truly appreciate all that is good.  And when it turns around, and we go tilting into the trough, we remind ourselves that the next big swell is coming.  As I sit here typing away, Ean pops over to the marina store and buys me a fudgesicle.  And if I'm lyin', I'm dyin' - it is the BEST fudgesicle I HAVE EVER EATEN.  And Ean: well, of course, he is MY FAVORITE!


  1. I completely agree! Sometimes we are having so much fun that I never want it to end, and then other times the whole thing sucks and I wonder whose idea this was anyway. Then i remember, "Oh wait, it was mine."

  2. That's part of what sucks - that we don't have anyone to blame but ourselves!! xo

  3. Great post! While we're not cruising yet, living on a boat is proving to have it's more extreme highs and lows, a lot of it impacted by the weather. Technically the whole idea of buying a boat and living on it was Ben's, so I blame him in the lows and love him all the more during the highs.
    Btw what is a Mola? They looks so bright and colourful but i've never heard of them before.

  4. Mola means "shirt" in the Kuna language - Kuna women traditionally wear blouses that are made of two "panels" of reverse applique - now the Kuna people sell molas to visitors, and they are made into pillows or handbags or framed and hung. I added a picture to the post, of one of the molas we bought. You can see pictures of women wearing molas here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuna_people