Another Lap Around the Sun

Posted:  March 6, 2021

The rumble of our trusty Perkins 4.108 purred under the cabin sole as we finished our pre-sailing checklist. It had been months since Chris and I left the breakwater, growing anxious with every second we got closer to casting off. It was our birthweek and we were ready to celebrate with wind in our sails, libations in hand, and family around. Chris and I were born one week and four days apart, me being the eldest despite general assumptions. To commemorate our circumnavigation around the sun we decided to take the week off and sail to Santa Cruz Island since our projects had come to a temporary halt. 

Adding some “special” to the occasion, Mama Neely’s boat Sea Castle would be joining us at the island, marking the first time both boats would be together in an anchorage. Crewed by Chris’s siblings Jon and Tess along with their respective families, it would be a fun trip for us all, how could it not? The Neely’s were sailing all together again, and we couldn’t help but think that Chris’s dad was smiling down on us all from the gentle seas of heaven where the winds are always fair. 

“Marissa! Avocet!” I looked to our starboard side as we came up on the breakwater. The questionable man hailing us was accompanied by a “splotchy” dog who could be none other than Maize, meaning that her human was undoubtedly our buddy Dan from Vesper, a fellow bird-named-boat. Dan was armed with his camera, and most likely bird watching when he noticed us making our grand exit. He snapped a few photos while we attempted to get the head sail set, but unfortunately we had some difficulty due to her lines being tangled and caught up on various things- apparently we forgot that on the pre-sail checklist. 

With me at the helm and Chris sorting out our headsail we finally got it set and attempted to capture the wind, which was rather coy with us. Despite our valiant efforts the wind did not want to participate so we reluctantly foiled the head sail and turned the engine back on, setting our course for our favorite anchorage: Little Scorpion. 

Considering Avocet hadn’t been mobile in a while, I took precautions and moved Cleo to our bed on a towel in case she got seasick. I checked on her a couple times while she was sleeping, and she showed no signs of any apparent issues. The third time I went below to check on her, she had vanished from the bed and made her way to the settee between two pillows. I scooped up her 12 pound body and carried her to the cockpit with me for fresh air. She sat in my lap for hours before commandeering another seat, covered by Chris’s jacket. Cleo continued to snooze the entire way to the Island, unbothered by the world around her.

We were the only boat in Little Scorpion, arriving just before sunset. It was a bit eerie being all alone, but it was also Monday and the weather was far from warm, deterring fair weather boaters. The flocks of birds and echo of the waves crashing against the cliffside was a beautiful welcome song that we enjoyed until the air’s cold bite was too much to fathom. Right as we began to get comfortable below deck- tragedy hit. 

That look!

Chris opened my locker to inspect all the systems (as always) and noticed that my hanging  clothes were wet. The vented loop for the engine that runs through my locker had failed due to a simple thumbscrew, leading to a leak that dowsed half of my clothes in salt water. Embarrassed and defeated Chris apologized profusely as I gathered my salty possessions to rinse with fresh water in the cockpit. It was not a big deal, things happen! At least he didn’t melt my shoes like last time… backstory: the diesel heater also lives in my closet, and we have had a few trial and errors with ducting leading to some interesting results I.e. melted shoes.

Once my clothes were rinsed and hung to dry Chris joined me on deck to watch the fading sunset. Still feeling bad, he disappeared to the lazarette and pulled out a box of heart shaped chocolates- one of my birthday presents- as a peace offering accompanying his sincerest apology. “Thank you for being such a good sport” he said as he handed me the box. I pulled him closer for a hug and a kiss, and told him “It’s a lot better than the alternative.” Attitude is everything. 

With the sun resting behind the ridged island side the air grew colder, pushing us down below. I hung my damp clothes in the cabin sides finger wells to continue drying; subsequently turning the entire boat into a walk in closet- my distant dream-come-true. Chris and I sat down at the table to enjoy a warm bowl of chickpea curry while snuggling up to watch Captain Ron, knowing it was a surefire way to cheer Chris up from the previous events. Although still technically “early” we went to bed around 9:00, letting Avocet rock us to sleep. 

Dawn came “just around sunup” as Captain Ron says, but hid behind the grey skies blanketing our surroundings. The swell continued to sit first-chair in the all-natural symphony crashing into the cliffs and rocks nearby while the pelicans and gulls gawked at each other. We were still the only boat present, enjoying the serenity and seclusion. Chris and I discussed our plans for the day, deciding to explore an anchorage we have heard much about but never visited.

Fry’s Harbor is notably one of the best anchorages on Santa Cruz Island, and is said to be rarely empty. The sandy beach allows good dinghy access and is the beginning of the four mile hike to Diablo Peak, the tallest point on the island. This anchorage, like many around Santa Cruz, has a significant history as well. In 1929, a quarry operation mined rock got the Santa Barbara Harbor’s breakwater. Evidence of this quarry can still be seen on the south east side of the beach, and throughout the landscape.

We left Little Scorpion after coffee in the cockpit, then made our way towards Frys motoring for an hour before catching a gentle breeze. It was only 5 knots sustained and our hull speed was 2.5 knots at best, but we had nowhere to be so enjoyed the sounds of the wind, ocean, and birds. 

As we neared Pelican Bay, whales breached off our port side. The ominous clouds in front of Avocet surely deterred many from joining us, but we welcomed the chilly weather with our multiple layers. We bobbed along at a consistent slow pace, watching fog frame the island and sea like show curtains, revealing a scenery reminiscent of Jurassic Park. The gulls, pelicans and petrals flew along the cliffs, looking minuscule in comparison while the spray from sea mammals misted the air.

Just as we came up on our destination, the wind left us, and we motored into Fry’s. Despite the guidebooks warning of popularity, we were once again the sole vessel in an empty anchorage. It was 12:00 in the afternoon, yet our day had only just begun. I made myself comfortable in our newly remodeled galley (blog and video coming soon) preparing brunch that consisted of eggs on a raft and left over chickpea curry- not a 5 star meal by any means, but it was good. 

With full bellies we we launched our Fatty Knees 8’ dinghy, Little Wing, off the bow and into the water as Gordon Lightfoot serenaded us through stereo. We loaded up our trusty steed with snacks and cameras for our adventure on shore, then made our way towards the beach.

Beaching Little Wing was as easy as the guidebook said; no swell, no problems. We dragged the dink up the shore, thankful for her added sacrificial bronze bottom. Chris and I looked around and admired our floating home in the distance. “She looks different here than in the slip” Chris said. We walked the shoreline examining the remnants of the old quarry. Railroad tracks rusted and grown over with the various island plants ran alongside the large cliff and disappeared into the oak trees that led into the canyon. Chris and I decided to channel our inner billie goat and climb the west cliff, careful not to miss step and plummet below. 

After enjoying the overhead view and watching the fog spill into the valley we decided to head back down and grab Chris’s camera that was at the dinghy taking a time lapse of Avocet. We were about half way down when my beat up Adidas that I have had since freshman year of highschool betrayed me. Down I went, the only thing catching me was the prickly leaves of a biglow spike moss plant. The rock that sent me to the ground was quick to follow behind me, hitting my back and making me bleed.

Although unable to catch me, Chris turned around and was at my side while I assessed my bruised ego and body, weeping from pain and embarrassment. He held me and asked if I wanted to throw the rock that I slipped on, but I declined knowing that with my luck I would only hurt myself. We continued our descent unscathed, returning to Little Wing where our snacks were waiting. Once we were fed we continued on our shoreside exploration examining the quarry track more closely. The track led to the cliff side where the rock went from bright orange to dark black volcanic and in which laid varius tide pools filled with sea life. The end of the tracks was quite literally the end of the road, forcing us to turn around and explore elsewhere. 

The last bit of the anchorage we had not ventured into was the valley that was guarded by oak trees. We followed the tracks that were consumed by the earth, and in its place lay a fox trail . The winding trail reminded us of Narnia, with low hanging oaks, bent at odd angles and island ivy covering the ground. Small white flowers sprung from the ivy that stretched like fingers across the dirt, directing my attention to admire the details.

A small stream trickled nearby, the first fresh water source we have discovered on the island. I thought of my brother, who as an avid fisherman would surely be thrilled and determined to catch something. We continued to hike deeper into the island when we discovered the remains of an old quarry cart, decaying out of sight from the highly trafficked areas. “An original red brick from 1929, what a classic” I said sarcastically as we investigated the industrial remains. Sunlight cascaded through the gaps in the oak canopy, signalling us it was time to turn back before dark. 

It was 4:30 when we reached the shoreline, two masts visible in the distance. We ran to get a view of the boat that had joined us in the anchorage. To our surprise, a classic gaff rigged fishing boat crewed by two men was stern tied to the beach. The men introduced themselves as Ben and Daniel, then told us how they had motor sailed the (maybe) 20’ boat from Santa Barbara. We exchanged details about the upcoming weather, our whereabouts, and let them know if they needed anything just give us a holler. We waved goodbye to our new neighbors and pushed Little Wing out to sea. 

Sea caves pitted the cliff side, making hollowed “booms” as waves filled the voids and crashed inside. The hearty echo was powerful as we watched the ocean breath with us. Sea stars clung to lava rock while bright orange garibaldi danced beneath the aqua marine waters. We were joined by a pod of dolphins who, to be honest, were a bit too close for comfort. We watched them breach and sized up our Little Wing against the playful mammals, realizing just how large they really are in comparison to when we are aboard Avocet. “Chris, those don’t all look like dolphins” I said as they got closer. Come to find out, there was a pod of pilot whales hunting alongside the dolphins and seals.  

As the sun set the clouds layered the island again, bringing a bone chilling breeze along with it. Back on Avocet I retreated to the galley to start dinner and slip into my PJ’s while assessing the damage to my swollen hip. A large bruise the size of a softball had already formed with multiple depths of purple and yellow, looking like a knock off Jackson Pollock painting. Due to my anemia, my bruises often look worse than they are but in this rare instance I felt as bad as I looked and was careful to avoid any “boat bites” that would surely bite the area worse than usual. While struggling with my self-inflicted wounds, Chris deployed our FlopStopper to reduce the rolling of the already-gentle swell, setting us up for another perfect night. 

The sun shone through our stateroom portlight, waking us up around 6:30 or 7:00. We had no use for our regular phone alarms here, but rather woke up and went to bed with the sun. The past few days had been gloomy and cold, so the warmth was greatly appreciated. Making sure to avoid the floorboards that creek, I made my way to the galley to brew coffee and make birthday pancakes. It was February 10th, and Chris’s 23rd birthday.

I lit the single birthday candle wedged between a chocolate donut on top of the birthday-boys stack of pancakes, handing him his gift wrapped in last month’s The Log newspaper accompanying the hand made card with “Happy Birthday” written in highlighter across the front.  Chris blew out the candle and opened his gift to reveal a leather “To-Do” book. Although silly and seemingly small, my reasoning behind this simple gift was well thought out and meaningful…at least I thought so.

Let me explain: Chris is always busy; video shoots, boat work on Avocet, boat work for neighbors, editing videos for us and work, as well as other family related honey-do’s. He never wants to let anyone down and will work himself to the bone, abiding by his fathers motto “do anything for anyone, anytime” with that sentiment, he rarely has time to relax and do what he wants to do let alone make time for “us”. Inside his gift, I wrote this simple explanation …

Happy Birthday my love! What a year 22 was… 23 already seems like a breeze. As we continue to settle into this lifestyle, I know our gifts to eachother will have to be a bit more useful in terms of space and “need”. I would give you the world if I could, but it is unfortunately slightly out of budget. However, I thinkthe gift I am giving you this year is good because of the deeper meaning behind it. I feel like we have been chasing time, so I am giving you time itself. My wish is for you to fill this to-do book with projects, jobs, and most importantly us. In these pages you will map your precious time. Use it wisely. Now lets enjoy this beautiful boat of ours! xoxo, wifey.

After breakfast we continued to enjoy the morning, soaking up the serenity. Since we were alone I let the sun kiss the parts of my body seldom seen by light while reading The Stand, by Stephen King. Chris sat near me beginning to fill his “to-do” book with journal entries and lists for the upcoming weeks, making good use of the leather bound book. Cleo jumped out to stretch her paws and patrolled the deck before curing up in the “catch all” next to the companionway. We let the minutes pour into hours, remaining present with ourselves and the gorgeous day Chris was gifted by the universe. 

Around 11:00 we splashed Little Wing for one last jaunt around the anchorage. The water was crystal clear and freezing cold, reminding us of our time living at North Lake Tahoe.The swell was building just outside of Fry’s Harbor (around 3 feet) letting us “surf” the dinghy back to Avocet. 

The rest of the Neely family left Ventura Harbor aboard Sea Castle around 12:00, their course set to meet us at Smugglers Cove. Chris and I prepared Avocet to sail so we could intercept them along the way. Inspired by the conditions we decided to channel our inner “Pardey” and sail off anchor which is an important tactic to master in case of engine failure or for fuel preservation… plus it’s just cool to be reliant on nothing but the wind and sails! I was at helm switching between pulling sheets and steering us away from the jagged cliff sides while Chris brought up the anchor. With a final *clunk* the anchor was secured and we were sailing again. 

A gentle breeze pushed us along at 1 knot until we decided to turn on the engine to make some headway. The ocean was glass, and the sea blended into the sky at the horizon stretching on for miles. A large pod of dolphins breached in front of us, likely hunting for lunch. Seals followed closely behind mimicking their jumps, and surely enjoying their leftovers. 

Avocet, avocet, avocet this is Sea Castle do you read?” A familiar voice came through the radio. We were 45 minutes from Smugglers cove, and Sea Castle was nearby. We rounded between Santa Cruz and Anacapa Island, as the sun began its evening routine. Chris and I arrived at Smugglers, a sight we hadn’t seen since our dreadful gale wind experience in September 2019. This time, armed with snubber redundancies and fenders to spare we were ready for anything. Sea Castle came into view shortly after we had utilized the engine-heated water for showers, making sure we were presentable to the family. Together we cleaned the cabin and prepared the port side with fenders to raft up.

Around 5:00 Sea Castle and Avocet were together at anchor, for the first time ever. Our nephews were giddy with excitement nearly jumping overboard. Hansin, the youngest, jumped into my arms and Truman, the second youngest, shortly after. Fearing for her life, Cleo cat hid in the darkest place possible up in the V-berth since she despises small children. Confident and comfortable with our boat, our eldest nephew Troy boarded and took a look at the improvements we had made since his week-long stay with us last summer. “You need to clean your decks” as he stepped around the fading non skid and sharpie lines from our attempted template build. “Thanks kid. Go watch your brothers” I directed, and below deck he went. 

At Avocet’s table we fit seven adults and three children for dinner- a new record for us. Mama Neely; Tess and her husband Jason; their kids Hansin, Truman, Troy; Jon and Shannon; and of course Chris and myself. After a long day we stuffed our faces with enough stir fry to feed an army, an interesting dish to prepare for so many people with so little amount of large pots. 

The Prism Crew retired aboard Avocet in the Quarter berth, with Troy taking over the V-berth. Mama Neely, Tess and her family (minus Troy) occupied Sea Castle’s various berths. With so many warm bodies aboard, Cleo cat made her rounds making sure everyone got the proper amount of snuggles. It was a relatively peaceful night, until around 4:00 am when one of the lines holding the boats together popped with a loud BANG.

Chris was quick to get on deck and assess the situation. On Sea Castle, Jason helped Chris secure everything. The swell continued to pick up throughout the early hours of the morning, turning our raft up into a decent game of bumper boats. At 6:30 we called it and prepared both boats to head to our next destination: Coches Prietos. 

Three hours from the next anchorage we made coffee and watched the sunrise. Jon and Shannon hopped aboard Sea Castle to help sail to the anchorage leaving us with Troy as our only additional crew. Chris and I were thankful for the one on one time with our tweenage nephew. “Can I have coffee too?” A little hesitant, I reached for the small whale mug that was left on Avocet by her previous owner and filled it with mostly creamer, half a teaspoon of sugar and a dash of cinnamon for good measure before adding a splash of coffee. 

Our Autoprop kept us boat lengths in front of Sea Castle without even trying. Being essentially the same length, weight, and engine it was a good test of efficiency. Chris and Troy-boy were getting hungry so I went down below and made eggs on a raft for the “adults” and cinnamon toast for the kiddo… which surely helped get the coffee down.

At 9:00 we arrived at Coches Preitos in the company of two other boats. The sun hid behind a thin layer of overcast, chilling our cockpit-dwelling bodies. Last time we were here, Chris and I were apprehensive of the surrounding reef and narrow entrance but this time, we knew exactly how close we could anchor, and set the hook with confidence. Sea Castle anchored off our port side, from which we could hear tiny “Hi!’s”  from the kids. With the anchors set we launched Little Wing and headed to Sea Castle to shuttle people to shore to enjoy the sandy beach.

The kids all went to shore first while the adults finished their coffee. We watched their little legs running back and forth as they followed a “treasure map” their mom created the night before, that led them to the treasure their dad had buried for them early that morning. The “treasure” was a collection of coins, candy, and gummy snacks that Truman so observantly noted that we have the same brand aboard the boat. Regardless of the treasures origin, the kids were excited.

Shannon was quick to suit up and take to the cold water, equipped with a snorkel and passion for exploring the ocean. Chris and I followed shortly behind her after some coercing, but overall we were very glad that we dove in. Weightless in the clear water we hovered above the reef, breathing with the ebb and flow of the ocean and kelp. Sheepshead, garibaldi, and numerous schools of mackerel and sardines swam with us, as we carefully observed them and their habitat. 

Back on shore I managed to get out of my Roxy wetsuit that I have had since I was an avid 14 year old surfer. Although it still technically fits, it was never properly broken in and my now almost twenty-four-year-old body could not peel it off without assitance. With the help of Troy and Shannon I was free from my neoprene confinement and my bare skin froze with the first breath of wind. 

Chris managed to convince Mama Neely to join us on shore. She was timid due to her limited mobility after her August car accident, but she was improving everyday and we knew she could do it. With a successful beach landing, we were all together again on the beach eating snacks, drinking drinks and having rock throwing contests. Chris managed to out throw everyone by a good 20 feet or so, myself coming decently close to his farthest pitch. One of the many benefits of growing up around boys is that you learn how to punch properly, speak sarcastically and throw a wicked pitch. `

After spending hours playing in the sand and friendly competition we loaded up Little Wing and headed back to the boats. We had dinner aboard Sea Castle; two extra large bowls of taco salad fed a very hungry crew. Bed time came early at 8:00, and that night we needed all the sleep we could get. 

*BANG*

Chris and I both sprang out of bed at midnight to assess the all-too-familiar sound. I had initially thought our snubber broke again, echoing the incident in Smugglers back in 2019. Chris confirmed the noise was likely the dinghy hitting the Mason which had come very close to us when our anchors reset. Jon assured us this was “normal” in the Caribbean which did not ease our concern. We made the necessary adjustments to accommodate the predicted 15 – 20 knots of wind then tried to get more sleep. 

We could see Jason on the deck of Sea Castle assessing the situation as well. As a new sailor I completely sympathized with his concern since I was the exact same way our first time out. The dark only adds to the fear. Jason stayed tucked in Sea Castles enclosed cockpit all night, monitoring every sound, gust, and wake that night. Learning to sleep between the chaos is a very handy lifes skill that sailing teaches, all in due time.  

The next morning the wind was still screaming through the anchorage. Avocet’s crew of five loaded up Little Wing to reconvene with the crew aboard Sea Castle to discuss the nights events and our plans for that day. Jason was locked in the aft stateroom attempting to get some sleep when the Neely kids broke out into a harmonized rendition of All The Leaves are Brown by the Mamas and the Papas- very random, but also not uncommon for this bunch. It took a while but I eventually got used to their antics and gladly participate even if I can’t sing to save my life. When the acapella session wrapped we decided to restow everything and make our way back to Ventura to hopefully beat the predicted forecast. 

The conditions on the lee of the island reminded us of sailing in San Francisco bay, putting a huge smile on Chris’s face. With winds into the sustained 30’s we were sailing comfortably before we met the 6-8 foot swell in the channel. Troy remained as our third crew member helping pull sheets and film with the go pro. He tensed up when the swell began to rise above the deck, getting our bulwark wet, but I explained how our boat was made to do this- it was built and sailed from Hong Kong to the US! With that information he was a little more relaxed, but still white knuckled the edge of his cockpit seat from time to time before getting more comfortable vertically. 

“ARE WE SINKING?!” Troy’s drenched clothes made him look like a drowned rat. “No, we are okay, Poseidon just wanted to give you a hug” I said while doing my best to remain calm at helm. We were taking the swell to beam and Troy had just felt the embrace of the sea while just about to take a dramamine induced nap. The wave (which was about 13’) crashed right on top of him, sweeping him into the footwell of the cockpit. Freaked out but fine, Chris took the helm and I helped Troy below deck. He curled up on our bed next to Cleo who is used to our escapades by now and usually sleeps on my pillow during “uncomfortable” sails. I managed to make my way to the V-berth to acquire a change of clothes for our soaked deckhand before returning to the cockpit. 

Chris had a shit eating grin while “feeling out” how Avocet wanted to sail. After some trial and error (sorry Troy) we were able to find the sweet spot between having control and not. The wind began to die down and subsequently the swell was rising. The occasional 12 footer began to overtake the stern of Avocet then break on our quarter. Chris was reminded of the lessons he learned by reading his favorite books written by sailing legends like John Kretschemer, emphasizing the importance to keep the boat moving when on this particular point of sail. 

Avocet was only going about four knots while in the trough and was truly being overtaken by the waves. As an instinct we turned on the Perkins to help us power through the swell bringing our overground speed back up to about seven or eight knots, keeping us stable. However, after about 10 minutes of motoring Chris looked at me perplexed with one simple question “why did we turn the engine on?!” He promptly killed the engine and I rolled out the entire 150% Genoa, kiting along at the same speed without the iron lung- good, real, sailing. 

While sailing Chris and I discussed that we need to start remembering that our engine should be used for auxiliary reasons, and as a plan B. We are a sailboat, and people have been traveling without engines for centuries using special tactics to keep them safe in any situation. The immediate relief we get when we hit the ignition switch is a hard habit to break but it’s something we are working on. Resources like the Storm Tactics Handbook by Lin and Larry Pardey has significantly helped us explore the limits and possibilities with Avocet so we can continue to feel safe and confident as her crew. On the horizon we could see the Mason, it was in our sight, but still far out of reach. 

Once Troy was situated I reassessed the “damage” below deck. Our percolator had found its way onto the floor with coffee grounds spread like the ashes of phoenix, except unlike the phoenix they would not clean up themselves. I picked up the metal pot and put it in the sink, then moved forward to contain Jon’s belongings which had been scattered about the settee and ground unlike Shannon’s possessions which had been properly stowed by her prior to departure. The green water that got Troy accumulated in a small amount under the companionway where our batteries used to be (one of the many reasons we moved them) and was just inches away from drenching Chris’s work camera. I cleaned up what I could, ignored what I couldn’t and made sure Troy and Cleo were taken care of. 

Dolphins jumped through the crown of the swell while we were in the trough, making it seem as if they would jump aboard at any second. Their sleek bodies shot through the water like torpedos, crossing above and below each other so elegantly. I urged Troy to return to the cockpit for fresh air, and after some gentle reassurance that we were “still not sinking” he made his presence. Armed with our gopro, he continued to take photos and videos of Chris and I together as well as the rest of the world through his eyes. Looking back on what he captured I smile everytime I see Troy’s thumb photobomb a shot, because he may not remember this in 10 years, but I sure will.

We made it back into the protected waters of the harbor at 3:00, where the rest of the family was patiently waiting to catch our lines. Once we tide off we cleaned up below deck and started dinner. Jason, who was happy to be back on land, made himself comfortable at our grill preparing burgers for everyone. We chatted about our experience back to the harbor over dinner and drinks, thankful to be all together. Exhausted from adventure, we slept like rocks.

The Neely Armada spent the following days enjoying Ventura and celebrating my 24th birthday. Chris paid attention to every detail, making me feel extremely loved. All I wanted was a card for my birthday and he delivered with the biggest card I have ever seen in my life! On the day of, he surprised me with the best biscuits and gravy in all of Ventura county, followed by beach bocce ball with our friends, a bike ride, and to finish it all off an early dinner at our favorite Italian Restaurant, Capriccio. It was the perfect way to cap off the past few days filled with fun and memories. 

After giving both boats a deep scrub down Chris left on the 16th for a shoot in LA; grateful for the work but sad to be leaving. Shannon also departed to go on “tour” visiting her covid-safe friends before she and Jon left for North Carolina. In Shannon’s absence, I had the pleasure (and surprise) of guest hosting an SV Prism Podcast, interviewing our friends Mitchel and Quincey aboard Esprit. If you are not familiar with the Prism crews latest venture, check out their podcast here. Jon and Mama Neely left the following day, leaving the keys to the Sea Castle to Tess’s family. Troy moved off Avocet and onto Sea Castle which left Cleo and I alone with peace and quiet.

Hansin and Truman, or “the littles’ ‘ as so cutely referred to, definitely caught the boating bug  and begged to be taken out on Little Wing. Derigged and ready for a row, I loaded them up and let them work together to propel us through the water. Our dock neighbors grinned as they watched the two boys figure out the dynamics of rowing while I sat back giving my best auntie and coaching advice. When we returned to the dock, Truman asked if he could live on a boat too. I told him someday, but until then he could come stay with Uncle Chris and I this summer, and with that he happily went on his way. 

The last of the Neely Armada departed, leaving Sea Castle uninhabited and the dock eerily quiet. Cleo became my shadow, clinging to me, desperate for attention and “meowing” to fill every silent moment. I returned to work, kissing vacation “goodbye” and grasped at the feeling of freedom as motivation to go cruising. With our project list dwindling and our debt shrinking along with it, we are closer than ever to escaping the breakwater for good and exploring places beyond the horizon. I am thankful for our floating home and the inspiration she gives us to live outside our comfort zone (within reason) and how she teaches us that we are much more capable than we think. 

Returning to the grind means we will have plenty of content to release with you soon, so be sure to stick around for updates! Thank you all for the birthday wishes and support in general, we wish you nothing but fair winds and following seas as we “sail” into March and look forward to chatting with you soon; Chris and I love hearing from you so please feel free to drop a comment below! 

Fair winds, 

Marissa, Chris, and Cleocatra

 




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