11 August 2014

Catastrophic Molting

Finally, the boat is sold.  S/v More Joy Everywhere has found a new owner – someone who we’re certain will take good care of her and restore her to pre-lightning-strike glory.  She will ply the Pacific from Panama for a while – but there are plans for grand voyages to South Pacific Isles, and we wish her fair winds and following seas.

As we walked around starry-eyed for a couple of weeks after the deal was done, one of us was apt to remind the other: “Hey, we don’t own a boat!” And when we sat down to dinner and raised our glasses of wine, one of us would say, “Guess what!?  No boat!!”  Not Owning a Boat made us ecstatic.  Reminds me of the video that was making the rounds in the cruiser community a while ago – “I’m On a Boat” – only in reverse.  I’m NOT on a boat, mothafuggas.  In your FACE!
To get beyond the fists-in-the-air victory dance, we needed a bit more time and space.  In the past year, we have taken a few mini-vacays to explore California’s central coast (and remind ourselves that we are still "Travelers"). On our first trip as Boatless People, up to Cambria, I found a hook upon which to hang my boat baggage.

When you go to Cambria, you putter around the little town, sip wine, eat at Robin’s, buy olallieberry jam from Linn’s.  On your way out to the vineyards in Templeton and Paso Robles, you drive on roads so scenic that the view should be declared an “attractive nuisance.”  You tour Hearst Castle and walk on the beach.  And then you drive just a few miles up the coast, to the Año Nuevo State Reserve, so you can look at the Elephant Seals. 

May is the end of molting season for the elephant seals of the Piedras Blancas colony.  But “molting” doesn’t really cover it.  It’s called CATASTROPHIC MOLTING.  They come up on the beach after months at sea and shed a layer of skin and hair all at one time.  Can I just say? It’s ugly.  We stood and wondered.  We walked up and down the boardwalk and took pictures.  We picked up the copy of “E-Seal News,” to better understand who and what we were seeing.  
 It occurred to me.  Ean and I have survived two catastrophic molts in the past few years – once to start the cruising life, and again to end it.  We were brave and foolish, and it led us to heights of joy and depths of sorrow previously unscaled.  The transitions were ugly.

It's been a year, now, since we flew from the boat and opened a new chapter.  A year to start aching for the sunsets, the dolphins, and the sounds of a boat under sail.  A year to make a few tentative decisions about who we want to be, now that we're not cruisers.  But our mantra has been GO SLOW.  No more catastrophic molting.  No big moves.  No irreversible leaps.  Instead, we're taking pleasure in the small "yes."  Yes to one thing at a time.  Yes to a thousand steps that lead to yet another new chapter.  No, we haven't figured it out. But yes, we're on our way!

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