Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Consumption

One of the benefits of living on a boat is that you can’t go crazy shopping. But now that I’m living on American soil in a house, I feel like all the stores and billboards are screaming at me to BUY BUY BUY. Bikes, computers, clothes, beds, cellphones … all these things that we didn’t need on a boat seem essential on land.

As I walk into a store, I want to lasso myself back. You don’t want more stuff! Remember the boxes you packed away for three years and didn’t miss? Remember Maria’s family in Vanuatu who lived in a 10x10 foot room and seemed so content with what little they owned.

How can I apply the lessons that I learned on a boat to living on land. How can I refrain from accumulating more stuff? How can I remember to conserve water, like we did instinctively on the boat? It’s so easy to let the faucet run, use the dishwasher and indulge in luxurious baths.

The other day, Maya and I were eating a burrito and drinking ice water at Taco del Mar in Hood River. We both didn’t finish the ice and when we got up to bus our table, Maya looked at me and said, “I don’t want to throw the ice away.” I couldn’t bare to either.

Now that we’re back on land and in a house with a refrigerator and an ice maker, we don’t have to treasure ice. Nor do we have to turn the water faucet off immediately, take two minute showers, switch the lights off, close doors, and refrain from buying heaps of stuff. All this isn’t as important as it is on a boat.

We’ve learned to live with less on a boat, and it sure is nice to live with more, but imagine how much energy and water we would save if we continued our practice of turning off lights, using minimal water, acquiring minimal things like we do on a boat? Imagine how much better our world would be if we all lived as if we were on a boat.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Reentry to land life

Reentry from living on the ocean to living on land where days include driving cars, talking and texting on the cell phone, unpacking boxes, mowing the lawn, going to school, making lunches, taking daily showers, seeing old friends, looking for a job, and listening to Congress bicker on NPR. Yes, I’m back in the USA. After slipping away for three years, reentry to terra firma is a huge adjustment; some say it may take us years to get used to normal American life.

To complicate our adjustment - Tim and Kai are still in the land of kangaroos and koalas, taking care of Kamaya who is for sale. Let us know if you or someone you know wants to follow the dream. Kamaya is a fantastic boat and sailing with the family is a remarkable experience.

After being together as a family pretty much 24/7, we’re now dissected. It feels like I’ve lost my left arm and leg and am hobbling, like a drunken sailor.

The beginning of our end to boat life began Sunday, August 20th, when Maya and I retraced our steps backwards. As they say, nothing goes to weather better than a Boeing 777. What took us three years to sail, took us about 22 hours on an airplane. Even better, because of the international dateline, we left on Sunday and arrived in San Francisco on Sunday. Australia is so far away that we even travelled from winter to summer.

Our route home started in Brisbane, Australia, where we left Tim, Kai, Kamaya and Evi, our sailing grandmother. Maya and I flew to Auckland, New Zealand then across the Pacific to Los Angeles before overnighting in San Francisco for Oma’s banana bread and good lovin. Monday afternoon, we boarded another airplane to Portland

We beelined it to the Gorge and stayed in the “pickers cabin” on Sue and Sam’s farm, with their pigs, horses, dogs, chickens and home grown tomatoes. Farm life feels like the exact opposite of boat life in the sense that there’s the connection to the land and the inability to haul up the anchor and move to a different neighborhood.

“Our life must feel boring to you after all the places you’ve been,” farmer Sam asked one morning as we sat in his patio looking at the fire on Mt. Hood.

“It’s not boring, I just feel like I’ve been in a time warp,” I told him. “Not much has changed, except all the kids have gotten much taller, much taller than me.” For those who don't know me - I'm 5 foot and a half (inch).

Saturday, we moved back into our Hood River home, which was rented while we were gone. Poppa Nate, Oma, Sue and Sam, and Bill, helped empty our storage unit filled with a table, dressers, old windsurfer, and more than 20 cardboard boxes. Did I miss any of it? Only three things: my road bike, dishwasher and bathtub. But all the other stuff, didn't really matter. How did we manage to accumulate all this stuff? How easy it was to live without it.

I’ve had some time to adjust to land life and answer questions from friends and strangers who can't believe that we were gone for so long. We had a remarkable time living our dream and it’s sad to give up life on Kamaya, with the whales, wahoos and dolphins and the fantastic people we met along the way.

So why stop? Besides the fact that it’s time to get serious, get a job, go to school and embrace what land has to offer. When we left San Francisco, three years ago, Tim and I wanted our kids to become boat kids, independent, curious, strong, and self reliant. We accomplished our goal. We learned a ton about ourselves and each other and we sailed thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean.

“Maya, has such a keen sense of her place in the world,” Sam commented as he listened to Maya explain to her friend Alexa where we sailed. They were in the car together and she didn’t have a map, so she used her hand to show where we’ve been. New Zealand and Australia were near her left thumb and Mexico and California were on her pinkie. The Galapagos, French Polynesia, Tonga and Fiji were somewhere in the middle of her hand.

It’s been our parental policy to stop doing whatever we’re doing with the kids wanting more. We didn’t want to be like some of the cruising families we met whose kids, especially the teenagers, wanted to go back home. Maya, who has a tinge of a Kiwi/New Zealand accent, wants to fly back to Australia and be back on the boat. She thrived on the ocean and loved the sea life and the people we encountered along the way. We’re leaving with her wanting more. Kai, well – he’s still on the boat, so he hasn’t left yet.

It’s hard to explain to people who don’t know anything about sailing what we’ve been doing for the past three years. One mother at Maya’s school looked at me and said, “How leisurely!” I smiled back. Leisurely, I think not. It feels much more leisurely living here in Oregon where we drive to the grocery store, take long showers, and can buy or get whatever we need. We learned so much from the boat, but I’ll leave that for another post.

Looking Back

It took me more than six years to turn our blog into a hard covered bound book. At first, I was leery of wrapping up our adventure because i...