A couple of months ago we left our beloved Knee Deep on a mooring ball in El Salvador and have spent the past several weeks acclimating to life on land. Take heart, this is only a summer visit and we plan to return in September, sailing south to Costa Rica, Panama and through the Canal to the Caribbean. I apologize for the extended absence in blog entries, but it appears cable television, unlimited Wi-Fi and other land luxuries, which we live without on the Floating Frat House, have squired away my attentions.
It’s been an extremely exciting, difficult and joyful transition. For instance, we realized behavior modifications were required in order to be accepted back into “normal” society. Unable to wear our bathing suits and go barefoot every day, we wear regular clothes and slip on close toed shoes, tormenting our unsuspecting tanned and calloused feet. We actually shower indoors EVERY day with steamy, hot water, instead of hopping off the boat for a swim and a scrub, then quickly rinsing off in the cockpit shower.
You may remember in a previous blog where I wrote about J.P. loudly complaining in a public place, “But mom, why do I have to shower tonight? I showered 5 days ago.” Ugh….Mother of the Year will have to wait for another time. In my defense, while living in the hot, humid, tropics aboard a sailboat, the thought of a warm shower inside our boat, is not at all appealing or practical.
Another difference I noticed immediately, was that life moves fast here. I hadn’t realized how much we had adapted to the slower pace of life as cruisers in Central America. On our second day here, my son Mickey and I ventured off to Trader Joes to provision for all of our favorites which we missed while living other countries. I pulled out of the driveway and drove down the street, when he turns to me and says, “Why are you driving so slow?”
I was maneuvering down the road like a 90 year old, with my sweaty hands vice gripping the steering wheel at positions 10 and 2 o’clock. I hadn’t driven a car in nine months and spent most of that time traveling on a vehicle that goes an average of 5 m.p.h. (on a good day!).
Upon entering the store both of us just stood there as people whizzed by with shopping carts. They were in a hurry. Somehow we managed to fill our cart and get to the checkout stand without incident, although I’m sure we annoyed quite a few customers with the constant stopping and staring at shelves.
As a side note…..I swear the heavens opened up and angels sang as I approached the wine and chocolate aisles. It had been a while since I had quality samples of either!
Our younger son, J.P. found the transition to a fast paced life challenging as well. Both he and Mickey returned to their old school where they visited with friends and former teachers. It was an amazing day and they were greeted with open arms and excitement. They boys were tickled that they had not been forgotten and it was wonderful for them to play a round of four square on the playground with some old pals.
After we got home, I found J.P. sitting on his bed, sobbing. When I asked him what was wrong, he replied through tears, “There was a lot going on today!! All the people…..and it was all going so fast!!”
I refrained from a snarky comment like, “Well, I guess that old Mrs. Doolittle boat school doesn’t seem so bad now, does it??” Instead, I gave him a big hug and conceded that I was feeling the same way.
Also upon our return to the U.S., outdoor life and our connection to nature has gone by the wayside. On many occasions, I have found myself longingly looking at the moon outside our bedroom window and shocked to see that it is full and bright. I quickly wonder why I hadn’t even looked up at the sky recently. Guaranteed I would have known the phase of the moon if I were aboard our boat. One of my favorite things is to be sailing at night with “la luna grande” to light our way which also illuminates our dolphin pals as they swim alongside us.
Life on the water warrants close attention be paid to Mother Nature or she’ll kick your butt. The captain and crew of Knee Deep know this because she’s opened a can of whoop ass on us on occasion (see former post “Microburst Mania”). Land living does not require this constantly, unless I’m going to a Giant’s game and debating between fleece vs. windbreaker…or both! Knowing weather patterns, wind speeds, moon phases, tides and swell heights are an imperative part of life on a sailboat. Strangely enough, I miss that! I tend to be a control freak about certain things which my husband will whole heartedly confirm. It can be so exhausting……can I get an “Amen, sistah!!”.
I am grateful that this life has taught me to let go, be more patient and that I can’t control everything. Mother Nature has her own plans on which I have no input. If she decides the weather will be 30 knot winds with 6 foot swells, well then we’ll just wait until the weather calms down, there’s nothing I can do about it.
However,there is an upside to this as well. Within a week of returning, I found myself laying in bed on a windy night, listening to it howl outside. My first reaction was to get out of bed and check the anchor. I smiled as I realized there was nothing to do be done. I didn’t have to be concerned that our anchor may drag or our home will float away. I was in a King size bed snuggled up under a warm blanket next to my husband. Life on land has some wonderfully simple pleasures.
Challenges aside, we have had a fantastic time visiting with family and friends. Thank you to my father, Jerry, who has allowed us to move into his Bay Area house, with two little boys who have boundless energy and are constantly scuffing up his lawn while playing ball in the backyard.
J.P. loves having his own bedroom (a.k.a. walk in closet) and appreciates it, like only an eight year old who lives on a 38 foot sailboat can. Mickey is in his glory visiting his cousins and friends, in addition to attending Giant’s games with his equally fanatical mom. Ben has been hired as a sailing instructor and sails every weekend out of Pier 39 with eager students hanging on his every word. It is a delightful change from his sometimes ornery crew aboard Knee Deep. He returns home smiling and amazed that he is getting paid to do something he loves so much. We continue to run our medical insurance business and I hope to have a few articles published about our sailing adventures.
No doubt about it, life is indeed good for the Doolittles.
Friends offering house sitting opportunities have been a great way to give Papa a reprieve so we don’t wear out our welcome. We are also grateful to have a home to call our own, if for only a week or two at a time. During these house sitting stints, we have discovered that anything over 1,000 square feet can be both a luxury and a bit overwhelming. After a while we tend to huddle together in a family room…out of habit or comfort, I’m not sure. However, having our own sleep spaces has been a dream, mostly for Ben and I. The boys could care less.
I plan to take this opportunity while on land to catch up on our past travels in El Salvador, Mexico and reflect on life aboard the floating frat house. During our 3,000+ miles of sailing, I didn’t have time to write everything I wanted, so I plan to spend the summer months reviewing my journal, finishing half written blog entries and exercising my writing muscles. I must admit, with access to more work out options on land, I tried to exercise my other muscles with a hip hop video...….it did not turn out well, I think I may need a doctor.
Stay tuned….next up Flashback to daily life in El Salvador, inland travel and a roach motel (literally!).
Check out some of our photos below (some may be repeats from other posts).
J.P. enjoying another sunset during a 3 day passage to Mazatlan.
We don't need no stinkin' shoes!!
Mickey reading his new Star Wars book while underway.
Mickey capturing a full moon!
Under way to La Paz with another full moon lighting the way.
The dinghy is our way of getting around while at anchor.
Back on land nine months without driving a car proved to be challenging for Molly.
The whole crew of Knee Deep enjoying another great day of sailing.
Tying up to the mooring ball in Bahia del Sol, El Salvador. Shirts (and underwear) are always optional for the male captain and crew of the Floating Frat House....house mother Molly usually opts for a top.
We got back to the U.S. just in time to witness Matt Cain's perfect game. We found the boys hiding in the hallway listening to the final innings. Devious little boys!!!
You can take the man out of the cheap sailing life, but you can't take the cheap sailing life out of the man!! One of our house sitting stints at our friend's house....needless to say the 5,000+ square feet was more than enough for us. And we classed up the place with some cheap beer drinking!
Another reason it was hard to temporarily leave our home aboard Knee Deep.
Sunsets like this every night, people!!!!
Memorial Day at the Giant's game with niece, Sally, Mickey, Molly, Auntie Co Co, Uncle K.J., Uncle Pat, Ben, J.P. and of course, teddy bear John!! Getting acustomed to the Bay Area coolness was an adjustment...and we had to borrow some jackets.
Molly and niece, Sally enjoying the cheap seats at AT&T Park.
Also, to all our cruising friends...notice Molly's hair straight and unfrizzy. It's hard to tame that beastly hair in the tropical heat!!!
I really don't think they should allow these two to sit together at baseball games....
(in Sally's defense....Molly and K.J. made her do this.....great role models!)
J.P. loving his bedroom in the Papa's walk in closet. When you share a v-berth with your older brother, it's the little things you learn to appreciate!!
Mickey has applied his pupusa making skills to baking homemade pizza. This kid loves to cook!!
It should be noted that I took the photo first...reprimanded them after.....kinda.
You gotta love boys!!
The transition is complete. Bathing suits for sweatshirts and cold orange juice for hot cocoa. Ben and the boys at Pier 39 in San Francisco.