To walk into a new room you inevitably have to leave the one you're currently in. To start a new adventure, you need to tie off your old one.
When we lost our boat two-and-some-change years ago, it was a real blow to the gut. Quickly overshadowing the loss however was the real work that had to be done as a father, husband, and grateful friend. Also, the overwhelmingly supportive response that literally came from all corners of the globe was humbling.
We quickly decided to get ourselves a new catamaran, in the high 30's / low 40's range. Used, but in good shape, we started imagining all of the things that we would do with it. Nothing extreme: just the combined knowledge of living aboard for 8 years, and spending 2 of those sailing offshore and living in the tropics. There are two things that I think any offshore voyaging sailor knows:
- Keeping a vessel in passage-ready condition is hard work and a significant amount of money.
- You have to commit to it, and by doing so you close off other options.
I very much loved watching our girls grow up at sea, and I've written literally tens of thousands of words to that effect. I love the culture of the waterfront and offshore sailors, almost without exception, share a common unbreakable thread that has run through seafarers since the first intrepid soul set out beyond site of land.
Since being back on land for the last two years, we did what I've advised anyone considering a journey to seriously consider (waterborne or otherwise): No one is going to give you a trophy or buy you a beer because you sailed a boat around in tough conditions. Whatever adventure you want to do, make sure it's what you really want. Make sure you're not just replicating the curated-for-eyeballs published accounts of other adventurers. Live your adventure.
After we lost our home, specifically as the person who scuttled Rebel Heart, I very much was scarred with the reality of making my family homeless and relying on generosity of friends and strangers. Humbling beyond words, the show of decency and compassion we received as a family will be with me until my last breath. But I also committed to trying my hardest to not making my family couch surfers again. I wanted an address in the United States that we owned. Maybe it's a little too domestic for readers of this website, but it's the truth.
Initially, we of course considered San Diego. Our adopted home town, one of our children was born here and I'll keep my 619 phone number with pride forever. I wrote a bit about why I wanted to leave San Diego, if you're interested.
Over the last couple of years we've spent more and more time up in the Eastern Sierra. With a good friend I backpacked (most) of the JMT last year. My daughter and I spent weeks up in Mammoth and June, snowboarding. I brought friends to places in the South Eastern Sierra that I was lucky enough to be brought to as a child. The mountains have always held a special place to me and they have a lot in common with sailing.
- Mountains, like the ocean, are combined displays of majesty, peace, and nature in unbridled power. You cannot insulate yourself from the forces around you; rather, you learn to work with them.
- People in small mountain towns help each other because often they have no choice. Ties are slow to form, like on the waterfront, but long lasting once forged.
- In our particular town, it's a deterministic place to live. No one "accidentally" moves here. You're here because you really want to be here. There's a bit of pride to it.
And so last week we moved into our new home in Mammoth Lakes, leaving San Diego behind. Our boat plans are on hold. The idea of being on a catamaran sailing the high seas is as enjoyable now as it has ever been. But walking my kids to school in a small town, knowing all my neighbors, and listening to the wind rush through the pines sounds pretty good right now too. In fact, at this place in our life, it sounds better. Plus, we're at the foot of one of the nation's best ski areas, and being able to bike/ski/snowboard/hike together as a family are daytime routines I'd put up against many of our sailing days.
I thought a lot about whether I wanted to write again about our experiences here in Mammoth. About whether or not I wanted to grab an Internet-podium and hop back ontop of it again. This website and the popularity it garnered was a double edged sword. It gave fuel to the rather small group of folks who vocally disagreed with how we handled our affairs, but at the same time I met countless people who drew strength from what we did, as I draw strength from the trials and experiences of others. Plus, I've learned a few things about managing popularity both in a functional sense (like turning off comments) and in philosophic one (like how to handle large volumes of feedback spanning the supportive-to-hateful spectrum).
And with that, I don't see any further updates to this website from me. If you're interested in following our new high altitude journey, you can find me over at mammothlife.wordpress.com. Otherwise I'm sure we'll run into eachother somwhere on top of a mountain or in the middle of a raging sea. Good luck on your efforts, and don't let anyone but you define your life.