When we lost Firefly on a reef in the San Blas islands in January, we lost pretty much all of the physical possessions we owned. Thanks to having insurance we recovered the value of most of them, except for some personal property that was inadequately covered. With the help of some astute Cruisers effectively monitoring their VHF radio and the Panamanian “Armada” (Coast Guard) we were safely evacuated from the boat and sustained no physical injuries, for which we are eternally grateful.
In the weeks following the accident, Carrie and I decided that our next step would not be to buy and outfit another sailboat (it would have been our 4th) and continue the Cruising Life. Instead we decided to move on to a new adventure, to purchase and outfit a Recreational Vehicle and travel the roads of America to satisfy a sense of wanderlust I have felt most of my life; one Carrie and I have shared since we first met 11 years ago.
Why did we not go for another boat? Since January we have revisited that decision many times, and when we meet with others the whole story invariably comes up. Personally I have reviewed it in my mind at least a thousand times over the last several months. The deciding factor for me was that after 2 ½ years of outfitting Firefly for cruising, doing most of the labor ourselves, I just didn’t want to go through all of that again.
Anyone who has owned a boat as large and complex as a cruising sailboat knows that no matter how new the boat is, no matter how much research you invest in finding a boat that has been well built and well taken care of, there will always be something to install, repair, replace or upgrade. The environment that the boat lives and operates in and the demands placed on it invariably result in a list of things to fix or replace that will never be completed. I felt like I’d put everything I had into Firefly, and the prospect of starting over again after all of our efforts were ripped away from us in a matter of hours was just more than I could handle.
More than one woman in my life has related to me the “wonder” of childbirth, something that no man can really fathom. The months of carrying a child constantly growing inside you and then giving birth to them speaks of pain and suffering that I cannot begin to understand. However it does not astonish me that women go through this process; we can all thank our Mothers for that. What astonishes me is when women choose freely to go through it more than once. I’m the 4th of 5 children, and believe me I’m thankful my Mother made that choice, but it’s still baffles me.
However something everyone can relate to is the human tendency for short-term memory, and just as that may be the quirk that makes multiple child families a reality, it also appears to be taking hold after the 7 months since we lost Firefly. That boat was our “baby”, as were the ones before her. She required constant attention. We would never leave her alone with even a hint of bad weather on the horizon; we devoted ourselves to whatever malfunction needed attention. The list of projects or fixes always seemed to add 3 projects to the end as soon as we crossed off 1 from the beginning. But here we are contemplating another boat.
Me, I’ve always loved being on the water. In my life I have never been happier or felt more fulfilled when I’m around boats. Learning to sail came as naturally to me as breathing, and making all of the pieces work as one (most of the time, anyway) can be overwhelming at times, yet it gives me a sense of great accomplishment. When I met Carrie, who shares that passion with me, someone who has handled a boat on her own but wants to share those joys and weather those headaches with me, I knew I’d found someone special. It’s still a wonder sometimes that she puts up with me, but I am truly thankful for it.
People seldom really appreciate something until it’s gone. We have met so many remarkable people cruising these last 9 years, and seeing our cruising friends once again has reminded us what an amazing community we were so fortunate to be a part of. It has made us wonder if the work that is sure to be required to outfit and maintain another cruising sailboat will be worthwhile just to be a part of that community again.