Okay. Whew. This is, indeed the life. And… sigh. The one I was looking for. Breathing into it. Owning the length of time, and tribulations it’s taken to get this sweet bite of the life, we’ve been working towards; the sweet upside of living on a boat coming true. Finally.
Just give it time. A little voice inside warns me. If I can grab ten more minutes of this bliss, I’ll be eternally grateful. Having already eeked out three glorious ones, I’m doubtful I’ll get much more.
It’s early and already warm. I’m stretched out, up on the bow deck — having crawled out my V-berth hatch so as not to wake Kip. Happy that I prepped my trusty stovetop espresso maker last night, so I could make my coffee in “silent running” mode, paying attention to minimize every little sound — and it worked. He’s still asleep. So here I am — in my heaven; in my nightshirt in the clear blue Maine morning, swaying at the pivot point of our mooring, alone with the breezes, birds and boat creaks, coffee, and writing. That’s the tip-off that all is truly well in my life — here in this moment…to be centered enough to write. If I let myself not think about the rest of things, if I just grab this here and now, then I am finally in my zone; where, what, and how I want to be. And what I came here for.
Nuvolina, “Nuvi,” our boat, is the only boat anywhere nearby. And from the (lack of) sounds of it, the lobster boats are taking the day off. So it’s exquisitely lovely, private, and very quiet. Officially we are on ”Golden Cove,” a small protected west-facing cove on the southwest “corner“ of Vinalhaven.
I always figured the cove was appropriately named for the color that can sweep across it in the sunset. More interestingly, I just learned from Kip, the cove is named after a special friend of Margaret “Good night Moon” Wise Brown, whose old house, a quarter mile away, is the only building you can see in any direction. I’ve still got to read that New Yorker article, and find out more about this special Golden person, the namesake of my summer home, as we try the live-aboard life here. Here, where Golden Cove opens up onto the Red Sea, at the mouth of The Basin, facing west to The Narrows, and then Penobscot Bay, and the Camden Hills. If it all sounds a bit like The Hobbit, it should. It is.
But Middle Earth magic, or no, the last two, almost three, months hasn’t been all easy and sweet, or even all swashbuckling adventure. On the contrary, the summer, and our whole boat purchase, transport, live aboard, sailing experiment has been thus far, a solid gold, back-to-back variety of weird challenges; a mix of ongoing new hurdles, interlaced with re-occurring setbacks from yesteryear. Between the two of us, I think we’ve been to five or six different urgent care clinic and hospitals in the last two months, with back pain, foot infections, covid and worse, its intermittent rebound flu thing, migraines et al. And that doesn’t begin to tally the keys locked in cars, flat tires, broken heads, and coast guard rescues. Am I complaining? — and doing the poor me privileged-white-girl (old lady) lucky-enough-to-be-sailing-at-all whine? Nope. I’m just scratching my head and wondering what the hell will befall us today, and thus, I’m extra-loving this glorious ten minutes before it does. Because it’ll be sumpin’. It’s always something I’m learning.
Luckily half of this experiment (the one where two people late in life find each other, fall in love, buy a boat to live on and sail in Maine in the summer) half of it was about living on board, and that part, while we wait to see doctors and find out more about his backhand what’s in store, we can do. Sort of. As long as I can do the tweaking and twisting, lifting and heaving that Kip usually does. The hauling of block ice through the woods, the dissembling and removal of broken heads, the changing tires with rusty jacks in gravel and dust. If he takes it easy, and I take come what may, then the living part we can do. And that part, for this moment, is more than fine. Outside of the pain, it’s still my dream come true.
In this quiet unfettered life and uncharted waters, I’ve slowed down to match the local tempo; gotten to know the neighborhood loon, the osprey and seals; the magic of watching distant electrical storms or the play between the stars above and phosphorescence below for the evening’s entertainment, the wonder of kayaking alone in and out of these islands and passageways, and how even without sailing, our horizon is constantly changing as the wind pushes us back and forth across the cove. Heck sometimes we pretend the crazy wake from the lobster boats are rogue waves or storms at sea, as they send us pitching.
We’re both learning the dance of sharing 36 feet as home together, so finding that rhythm, and playing are good things. Especially in this extended limbo, waiting for word, to be able to make a plan. You might as well enjoy yourself, savor the magic of simply swaying on the mooring.
Postscript. Thought I was done there, ending on a high note. But I am either getting wise or in fact clairvoyant.
It had gotten hot after a full hour of writing. So I went below to see that after a two-week hiatus, the post-Covid body ache has returned, sort of out of the blue, and Kip can’t get out of bed. Er, berth. Poor guy. I know how real it is, and how bad it can be. I had it myself just a few weeks back. So we will take it even easier today. I will try not to go crazy with the projects piling up. More things we won’t be able to tackle. Breathe deep. Stay calm. Find a place to sit between the piles.
Hey, I asked for ten minutes before the next setback, and I got a full hour.
Maybe the biggest lesson stretched out on top of all the summer’s learning opportunities is patience. Maybe we should have changed the boat name to Patience. What a prefect freakin’ boat name. One thinks of Courageous, Valiant, Intrepid, but even Magellan probably needed more patience than anything else. Anyway…
I will rally the patience it takes to put even doing projects around the boat on hold, and instead I will write and call, and catch up with friends and loved ones. Seems like many of them are struggling right now with enormous challenges — various cancers, Parkinson’s, macular degeneration, diabetes, Lyme, and broken bones that aren’t mending.
So I am definitely not complaining. Not comparing their pain to ours. Or anyone else. Not looking for sympathy or even well wishes. I just feel this need to clarify the reality of this fantasy of ours. I get a fair amount (thinking more than what’s due), of admiration; comments from readers about how “I’m living the dream,” or “my best life,” or how brave or fun I must be, etc, etc. The truth is a little different.
What we’re doing can be hard, boring, confusing, and confounding. We get sick and sad like everyone else. It’s not bad, but also not grand. Just another version of life and getting through it. Made more interesting, maybe, by making choices to share it with another, on a boat even for just for a few months — especially in these years of what feels like global, and personal declining, or changing health.
I will use my time on our sweet but messy boat today — not sailing, not even tending to the pressing projects that surround us, but to send love out to others if that can possibly help, while I savor the hour I had bobbing on the bow in the morning sun, and look for the loon.