Two weeks is not very much time.
I often have the sinking feeling that I am missing something. Time passes and I wake up with a start struck nearly breathless with the recognition that everything is passing far too fast, and I am failing to make the most of it. Do not, however, for one minute feel sorry for me, or consider that these deeply unhappy moments serve no purpose. It is this precise sensation that drove DrC and I out of our middle class, type A lives in Seattle, on to the boat, and out to sea in the first place. While unpleasant in the moment, the impetus to look more closely at our lives and periodic carpe diem adjustments is a healthy one for the long term.
Recently, I have failed to take advantage of our cruising lives primarily out of sheer exhaustion. I am tired... profoundly, bone deep tired. I am tired of how hard it is to provision and feed the family. I am tired of dirty clothes and the incredibly taxing process of trying to make those clothes marginally less dirty. I am tired of cat hair and human hair and toe clippings. I am tired of sticky sheets and constantly worrying about the batteries. I am super tired of salt water, and I want to pitch my oven overboard. I am tired of long passages during which I sleep poorly, eat little, and worry constantly about the rigging, other boats, and the basic stupidity of my cat. I think probably I am most tired of yelling at my children whose notions of cleanliness, safety, and diligence are vague, slippery and loose adaptations with very little of the precision I would apply to them myself. I am tired of my husband wanting to have sex even when we haven't bathed in days, and I am tired of listening to the refrigerator cycle endlessly in a vain attempt to make ice for my evening cocktail.
This is trip is so long. It is long physically... stretching over 5,000 nautical miles and 8 months. It is also long mentally. If you are considering this voyage, it is perhaps one of the hardest aspects to prepare for in advance. The puddle jump is a marathon not a sprint. Small irritations which are endurable while cruising the U.S. coastline and Mexico where marinas and docks are widely available and reasonably priced, become long term challenges as you go month after month on the hook. The last time we had access to a water hose was mid-April. The last time we connected to shore power was late March.
In addition to practical considerations of convenience to shore services, endless supplies of high pressure fresh water, and easy connectivity to the Internet, many sailors sleep sounder while docked. It's not a matter of comfort but rather one of vigilence. When you are on the hook -- and even when you are on a mooring line -- you must always be at least peripherally aware of your surroundings. Even were you presumptuous enough to believe that your ground tackle is perfectly adequate and perfectly set, you can never say the same for all your neighbors. A cruiser who sleeps deeply, soundly, and oblivious to the weather, her vessel, and neighboring craft is in the long run a boat that is going to come to harm. We have seen boats come to grief out here repeatedly; we have seen others saved from disaster only due to the light sleeping habits of her crew.
So I am tired and ready to be done while simultaneously regretting every failed opportunity, every missed moment. I already feel a thread of desperate nostalgia for the time spent with girls and for the many times I could have been with them but chose instead to read or to watch a movie or to simply nap. DrC and I have brainstormed ways to change our land-based lives to avoid the helpless rat race of our former suburban existence. And living on Don Quixote will no doubt force a different mind-set just as it forces many changes in life style and consumption patterns.
Yet it will never be the same. We knew coming out here that this was the last trip -- the last trip with all three girls on Don Quixote, probably the last extended trip as a family. Soon, we stop homeschooling the girls, a shifting of the educational burden to the public sector which I dread deeply but also welcome as a huge relief as the work is endless and often thankless. We will stop traveling, a change which today I look forward to eagerly but which I know I will wistfully regret in a mere five months as winter sets in and all our friends sail north for warmer waters. And after nearly six years, I will stop being a housewife, a job I have embraced fully and accomplished with some degree of grace and efficiency but which I also secretly loathe. Jaime will leave us soon, Mera and Aeron not long thereafter. Even if and when DrC and I come out here again, there will be a different boat, a different call sign, and all our patterns will change without the combined burden and pleasure which are the children.
So the Don Quixote party is nearly over. We very much enjoyed the festivities, the wonderful company, the conversation and the snacks. We're sleepy and we have to go to work tomorrow. It's time to put the kids to bed, kick the pets outside, turn out the lights and lock the doors. It's time to be responsible adults again. Is it any wonder we're sitting here lingering over the last of our drinks pretending the morning will never come?