First, Leave the Dock

When people ask Mike and me what our travel plans are aboard Galapagos, we really have to kind of shrug, give a general overview of where we dream of going, and then we fall back on, ‘First, we have to leave the dock.’

Yesterday we did it. After 5 years of working toward this goal, this day where we would finally untie our lines and leave the marina and our land lives behind for awhile, this day that had loomed large and, sometimes, dark in my imagination, came and went the way all other days come and go. As just a matter of course. The time passed gently by, a sigh rather than a wail. It was a huge relief.

There’s our slip, empty as we pull away. It was filled about 2 hours later with the next customer.

Like all big life transitions, we did feel as though we should mark the day in some way. How should we do that? Should we have a party? Should we do some ritual spitting and whirling? Should everyone gather at the dock and wave goodbye? All of that seemed too much and not right, and we ended up doing nothing formal at all, which is kind of our style anyhow. And it turned out to be the perfect choice.

Friends Carolyn and Arlen and their dandy dog Monroe saw us off the dock and held the bow line just to make me feel better. Then they were there to catch our lines as we pulled up to the fuel dock. Friend Sam who works at the marina was there to help us fill the fuel tanks. In the end, with hugs and well wishes all around, we slipped away and into the placid waters of Commencement Bay, the whole world in front of us.

The lack of obvious fanfare does not mean, however, that we didn’t have some mighty fine omens in the mix. Mike and I learned to sail on Commencement Bay. We cut our teeth on those waters in our Catalina 27, Saucy Sue. Last year we joined a racing crew aboard SV Blue Moon. As we were at the fuel dock, who should come by but Blue Moon! They were going out for a pleasure sail and we got to say hello and goodbye to her captain and many of the crew we raced with last season. It was just so very good to see them all! I have really missed those Wednesday night races and the crew of Blue Moon very much. We learned a lot about sail trim last season, but mostly we enjoyed the crew and just being aboard with them.

As we pulled out into Foss Waterway, we passed another sailboat and Mike waved to Mike Rice, his sailing instructor from his ASA 101 class 13 years ago. I kind of wanted to pull over and let Mike tell his old teacher what he’s up to now, but we carried on, the symbolism of the  moment enough.

When you add to the fact that we took on only 108 gallons of fuel to fill the tank instead of the over 200 we had anticipated, the day was shaping up nicely and the omens for the trip were all to the good.

Farewell for now, Tacoma.

As we rounded Point Defiance going with the current, there was an eagle hunting the waters off the point, my personal talisman of good fortune when we begin any trip.  There were many seals in the water sending us off, as well as some harbor porpoises. What a day!

We made excellent time on completely flat, sometimes glassy, water down to Henderson Inlet, just north of Olympia. The engine chugged merrily, happy to be useful again. The cockpit cushions I made felt luxurious. I had zero anxiety. That was the very best omen of all. We dropped our new Mantus anchor overboard, it caught as we expected it would, I made the first entry in the log book, and now the first day is over and done. Just like that. Just like any other day.

Next stop, the boatyard. We’ll do a bottom job on our big girl, pull the mizzen and fix the leak underneath that, and probably tie up some other loose ends that are best attended to on the hard.  After that we plan to find a nice place to anchor in Gig Harbor for the rest of the month. We are really looking forward to that, for some reason. (Maybe that has to do with resting!) We like Gig Harbor, and being there for awhile will offer us a way to transition to this boat life and still have a few land based amenities, not to mention access to family and friends while we are still in the area. The tall ships are coming to Tacoma in June and we plan a couple of day sails out among the big girls with family aboard. You know nothing makes me happier than that. Unless it’s seeing whales. And that will be later this summer. Get ready, whales! Mike is practicing his whale calling songs!

So, we’re off. Phase one of Little Cunning Plan, Leave the Dock, is complete. On to phase two. Where will it take us? I guess we will see!

I want to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to our family and friends who have been nothing but supportive of this life transition. To a person, they have all helped us embrace the challenge, have supported us emotionally when things were hard, have offered to help when things were tough, have been proud of what we are doing, and have never, even once, tried to hold us back. This is no small thing. And this is not the experience many people have when they decide to go cruising on a sailboat. Thank you so much Claire and Andrew, Mom, Amy, Darin, Will, Reid, Jill, Dan, Carolyn, Karen, and Molly. Thank you for your support, for believing in us, for not thinking we are crazy, for knowing we have to do this now or risk never doing it at all, for all the reassurances that this will work. We love you all so much.

Thank you to all the many friends we have; too many to list here but you know who you are. Thank you for your kindness and support and your continued friendship in the face of our distracted lives. We know it must have surely looked many times like we were not paying attention. It means more to us than you will ever know that you continued to be our friends anyhow. And we will miss you all dearly.  We will pay your kindness forward in the world, to be sure. And we’ll be back.

23 thoughts on “First, Leave the Dock

    • Thank you Mark and Cindy, for the good wishes and for being readers of our blog! Thanks, too, for the words of advice you frequently have to offer. It’s appreciated. Yes, here’s to hoping we meet up one day!

  1. Congratulations you guys!

    This will be a ritual you will be repeating many times over your cruising years.

    I learned to never project precise dates as something always seems to cause delays, and after 3 or 4 going away parties, it starts to get embarrasing… Therefore I always suggest a bon voyage [see you later, really…] get together the evening of my last provisioning run.

    The next morning I would head out and covertly anchor in a different, reasonably close location to spend a few days resting, finish stowing and prepping the boat- awaiting the right weather window.

    On Denali Rose we always say “We have no schedule, and we’re sticking to it!”

    We look forward to following your adventures! May they always be safe and rewarding…

    Cheers! Bill

    • Thank you, Bill! I do hope we will cross paths in an anchorage some day. You never know! we are meeting Stephanie and David Gardiner of SV Cambria finally. In the boat yard! It happens. I like your saying – We have no schedule and we’re sticking to it. That’s a good one. And I think that you are not the only sailor to furtively turn the corner and hunker down for awhile just to catch your breath before a trip. That’s what Gig Harbor will be for us. We need the break.

  2. This is not a “want to hold you back” thought – just a wistful wishing we had more time to see you. So glad for your posts so we can keep up with what you are doing, and so excited for you both to get to do what others can only dream of. Here’s to living out dreams! Blessings on your heads.

    • I hope you can come out to Gig Harbor and have coffee with me while we are there, Patty. You are among the friends most dear to me. We will take your blessings and hold them close to our hearts! And I’ll be back. Thanks for being excited for us.

  3. This excites me so much while grieving just a little. Your grand adventure is truly begun and I’m glad for your rest of the month rest near us. Your nearness will be missed greatly but my excitement for you still over rides that! Can’t wait to sail with you before you go!

    • Yes, I am definitely grieving leaving everyone, even if it’s only for awhile. This is the really hard part. The other stuff was easy compared to it. Looking forward to having you guys on the boat at the Festival of Sail! And also in Mexico and beyond.

  4. I love Bill’s comment, “We have no plans and we’re sticking to it!” No plan is the best plan of all. Go where the winds take you and enjoy your new life aboard with just the future and horizon before you!

  5. Congrats!

    Just a reminder to drop me a line if you end up spending any time at Shilshole. Drinks in the cockpit on me!

    • We won’t forget! Even if we don’t end up actually IN Shilshole, we may end up very close by and could meet up at an anchorage across the water. Stay tuned.

  6. Congrats! I’ve been following your blog for a reason, if you happen to pass Ladysmith Harbour drop in and see us we’ve just bought an Irwin 37, “In the Mood”, deal closes on the 10th and we move aboard over June /July would love to hear about the trials and tribulations in person. Slip A38 Ladysmith Maritime Marina

    • Congratulations, Kevin! That’s very exciting for you. We’d be happy to answer whatever questions we can, and would love to meet you should we be in that area. Do you plan to do long term cruising, then? We plan to move north toward the islands probably the first part of July.

  7. So excited for you guys! be sure that I will be living vicariously through you, until I can retire and start my own Adventure… Then maybe we can meet up out there and catch up! Please let me know if you hit the docks in Tacoma, or maybe I can Take Dulcinea out to GH and meet up with you there!

  8. Pingback: Next, Leave Puget Sound | Little Cunning Plan

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