Sailing Mango

We Are Off? Holy Crap.

Often times great things sort of sneak up on you. Not quite like having a child, that's more of a sudden explosion at the end of a huge build up. But as I sit here in our cockpit, not quite 24 hours into our year long cruise, it seems sort of incredible that after all of the planning, very late night reading, wasted hours at work, during lunch of course, that we are finally here.

Or maybe it didn't creep up, so much as we very slowly transitioned. I don't feel different, which is good.

We started with a little rowing and sailing dinghy that we named Mango. She was kept in the Edmonds Marina for a year, and I would row out in the sound to experience the calm of early morning before work during that first Summer of ownership. During a Summer vacation in Birch bay that same year, Kristen and I had great fun sailing for three hours in the sound, getting soaked, and having to bail water because the 1-3 foot waves were smashing over the bow. I only realized after we got back that that was Kristen's first time in a little sailboat. Maybe that wasn't the best intro to sailing, with the rough conditions, but she did say, looking at me while standing in chest high water holding onto the painter, "We need a bigger boat". She could have said something else.

So we bought a 20 foot Kent Ranger, renamed Mango to Kiwi, and named the Ranger Mango. For four years we sailed Mango, mostly to get ice cream in Kingston across the Sound, but with an occasional trip to Port Ludlow, or Port Townsend, and once into the San Juans for a week. What a great boat, and what great memories we have with her.

Those years were mental prep, skill building, family bonding, and a whole lot of dreaming. We got into trouble a few times on Ranger Mango. With all four aboard on a blustery afternoon, the winds were so strong we could not turn the bow into them to get out of the Marina. On another outing, we powered into a yacht, which was resting on a dock. During a multi day boat camping trip, the kids got soaked in the middle of the night when it rained. On other trips, cushions have been out steaming in the sun drying out after challenging sails, dogs have nearly jumped overboard, we saw many porpoises, sea lions, harbor seals, on and on.

We dreamed of not having a house to maintain. We liked the idea of being yard people, but sadly, sometimes to the dismay of our neighbors, we are not. I discovered we used between 7000 and 8000 gallons of water a month in the house (check your water bill, it is illuminating). We wanted a lower environmental impact, an interesting experience for our kids, no more age segregation in the schools, etc, etc. Lots of idealistic BS, but we had to shoot for something.

Kristen listened and spoke with awesome women who were captains, sailed across oceans solo, and realized that she too could be like that. It was just a matter of training, practice, attitude, and desire. We continued to go to boat shows to poke around sailboats and imagine living on one some day. The kids claimed cabins on the boats that caught their eye, they imagined reading books in little cubby holes that every boat has, and we all dreamt.

About a year and a half ago we started calling brokers who had interesting dreams/sailboats for sale. We met other families who lived on their boats, talked to their kids, and wouldn't you know it, they were all just regular folk. Mostly.

Last April we almost didn't call to go look at a Amphitrite monohull, which became the third Mango. We were set on a catamaran, but that didn't pan out, and the Amphitrite did. We got a second loan on the house, bought the boat, began the arduous process of getting rid of house crap, sold the house and moved aboard.

All of you who have sold a house, or even just moved after being in one spot for a while, you know what a pain in the ass that is. It sucks. Way too many late nights were spent wishing we had not had that beer at five in the evening because at ten at night after a beer or two, we really didn't want to keep working.

Then we had to fix the new Mango, educate ourselves fast, and get ready to head down the coast to Cali last Fall. But that didn't happen. We were not ready, the boat wasn't ready, and the weather was getting nasty. It was a huge disappointment for all of us to not go South, but it was the right decision. The wet winter on board with two dogs, the wettest winter in Seattle on record, was a pain in the ass. We had wet dogs three or four times a day, wet rain coats, towels, pillows, cushions, etc. Fortunately we had a good dehumidifyer and heaters, so the boat was mostly dry and warm.

The kids were put into a great home schooling program with the Edmonds school district, and were much happier for it. Kristen and I plugged away at the boat. I took a three month contract with my old employer to pay for the winter. Then suddenly school was out, the boat was a little better prepared, we were better prepared, and we had just a week left on the dock.

So after all of that planning, all of those late nights dreaming and doing, and all of that knuckle skin in the bottom of the bilge, when we cast off of the dock yesterday, it was hard to believe that we had truly "cast off". Even as I sit at anchor this morning, drinking my coffee, writing, and petting Biscuit, it sort of feels like any other mini cruise we have been doing this year. I guess we will just keep doing little cruises, anchorage to anchorage, and keep moving to see what is on the other side of the next point, the next bay, or the next island.

Fair winds!

Loving those poodle ears.

A bit of work to do after Costco.