Night Passage

It’s midnight plus one minute on July 30 and I, Melissa, am on watch on this crisp clear night as we pass Cape Flattery off the starboard side. Hugging the coast of Vancouver Island, we decided to do an overnight passage into the Strait of Juan de Fuca in order to stay ahead of winds that would be against us on Friday. I am surprised when I look out over a glistening silky sea, bright with the light of a half moon, and see lights in the distance. I realize I am seeing Washington State for the first time from my boat in over 3 years.

The lights are faintly glowing far off on the other side of the mouth of the strait and I want to stare intently at them, make them bigger and brighter and more real. There is our waypoint on the chart, a gem shaped mark chosen to represent the completion of passages from Mexico and Hawaii. Did we really, in fact, sail all that way? The coastline of Vancouver Island is so familiar, so usual a pattern in my experience that it could be possible to believe, sitting out here in the cold night air, that the past three years were somehow a dream, maybe even someone else’s life entirely. I want to freeze frame this moment in time and sit with it for longer, this feeling of accomplishment mixed with both anticipation of being with family again and getting back to some new kind of life for a bit and with sadness that our full time adventure must pause for awhile. I want to take a photo to hold for the rest of my days. I want my kids and potential grandkids to be told the story: they
did a long journey by boat. And it completely changed them in all the best ways.

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