Next stop: Southern California — posted by Erin


Before Brian and I embarked on this trip, we used to dream about what the cruising life might entail — we pictured long, restful days of lounging in the sun and doing whatever we pleased. I thought it might be similar to retired life… Only with later mornings, later nights, and no golf.

Something like this:

8am: wake up
8-10: eat a leisurely breakfast while reading a few chapters of a novel
10-11: go for a morning swim and snorkel
11-1: choose from one of the following options: a. work on my tan; b. take a nap; c. write;d. learn to play the guitar; e. learn a new language; f. stare blankly at the turquoise water and white sand beach
1-2: eat lunch
2-3: go for an afternoon swim and snorkel
3-5: choose from options a-f, above
5-7: cocktail hour(s)
7-9: eat a leisurely dinner
9-11: play a board game, card game, or watch a movie
11pm: bedtime

So far the cruising life hasn’t delivered quite what I’d imagined. Instead of lounging leisurely, we spend our days running errands, working on the boat, and doing chores. Our days actually go something like this:

8am: wake up because the boat is rolling so badly that the glass of water you brought to bed last night has spilled all over you
8-8:30: clean up the spilled water, change the sheets on the bed
8:30-9:30: eat a granola bar while trying to figure out where to sail to next, how long it’ll take, and when the weather will cooperate
9:30-10: think about reading a few chapters of a book but feel guilty about not helping Brian, who has started working on the list of boat projects*
10-12: continue to work on boat projects, and realize that everything takes at least three times longer than planned
12-12:30: get too frustrated to continue to work on boat projects, throw together a quick lunch and decide that we should go grocery shopping while we’re within walking distance of a store**
12:30-1: lift the (100 pound) dinghy off the deck and put it into the water; lift the (60 pound) outboard off the rail and put it onto the back of the dinghy
1-1:30: attempt to beach the dinghy in 3-4 foot waves while not capsizing
1:30-2: walk to the store
2-3: buy as much food as we can carry in backpacks
3-3:30: walk back to the dinghy
3:30-4: attempt to ride the dinghy over the 3-4 foot waves, again while not capsizing
4-4:30: unload the groceries and drink a well-deserved beer, for not capsizing
4:30-5: do a load of laundry; turn on the generator and put in as much as the washer will hold: 2-3 shirts, 2 pair of shorts, some socks
5-6: put the kayaks in the water and explore
6-6:30: lift the kayaks out of the water; hang the wet laundry out on the rails to dry and realize that the fog is rolling in and the clothes will stay wet until late morning, at least
6:30-7: put the dinghy and the outboard back on the boat
7-8: cook dinner
8-9: eat dinner; watch a few episodes of Arrested Development
9-9:30: clean up dinner while discussing how exhausted we are all the time, and how we thought we’d have more time to do fun things
9:30-10:30: watch a few more episodes of Arrested Development
10:30: bedtime

When we were in Monterey, I started reading The Log from the Sea of Cortez, by John Steinbeck, who moved to Monterey as an adolescent. The book documents Steinbeck’s trip to
Mexico to study the marine life. He spends six weeks traveling around the Sea of Cortez on a powerboat, and longs for a slower pace and more time to explore. He wishes “for a month at a collecting station” but has only two days, so he reflects wistfully back to the days of sailboats, on which men “have so much room and so much time” because they “move slowly under sail.”

Yet when Steinbeck imagines taking a sailboat to Mexico to complete a research project in the 20th century, he believes it would be “ridiculous and ineffective.” Why, he wonders, would we “move four hundred miles on a horse when we could take a plane”? The pace of our society is quick and we’re destined to keep tempo.

I’m beginning to wonder if he’s right. Have we come too far in modern society to enjoy a slower pace? Is this tempo something that we’ll never shake? Time will tell, I suppose. But I’m not ready to give up my dream of spending day after day doing nothing but staring into the water! For now, I choose to believe that a slow pace is something I can recreate, without artifice.

In just a few minutes we’re leaving Morro Bay to sail 115 miles to the Channel Islands, just off of Santa Barbara in Southern California. The islands are supposed to be desolate, remote, and uninhabited — a throwback to the days before our quick-paced society. Maybe it’ll be there that Brian and I will finally put away the “to do” list and enjoy a few hours, or days, of doing nothing.

*the project list includes the following: buy and install a new motor for our dive compressor after we accidentally blew up the original one; buy and install a new line for the outhaul on our mainsail; remove the corrosion from our running lights; re-install the running lights; re-run the ballooner halyard down the main mast after we accidentally pulled it out; repair the block and pulley on the main boom; clean and reorganize the inside and outside of the boat (again and again)

**if we don’t need to go grocery shopping, I usually clean the boat or work on my own boat projects, some of which are listed above


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