Here is a look into my mind, from when I first really decided I needed to have a boat of my own. Perhaps it was decided for me. Nevertheless, here is an excerpt from a letter I wrote a friend while I was sailing around British Columbia this summer aboard a man’s boat whom we will call Jack, as in captain Jack (obviously). This friend and I met while we were living and working together on a farm in the foothills of Mount Rainier.
I just walked through a forest trail that had this plant with leaves the size of my body. Where I came out on the other end was this really shitty looking diner, but inside is the most wonderful robins egg blue walls and tables, with all natural light from the big open windows. I’m in Pendar Harbor, BC. There are so many places I’ve visited on this sailing trip through Canada where I’ve been like, “Why can’t I be half Canadian?” Which is funny because I’ve been thinking a lot about getting my own boat, having my own piece of the pie. Jack’s extensive resume of small, attainable boats has me itching to try it on my own. It’s more of an obsession really.
There’s this story of a man, middle aged, he’s a filmmaker and has this small boat and all he can think about is sailing it around the world alone. In his documentary of the solo voyage, where he loses his mast and experiences an incredible torment of large, breaking seas and relentless gale force winds, he says “If I wasn’t here, I’d probably still be thinking about it.” Boats can borderline obsession and I wonder, if I stay aboard Jack’s beautiful, perfectly maintained cutter– will I still be sitting there thinking about my own?
I love Jack and every time I lay down in the v-berth, my head tucked into his armpit, warm light pouring through the open hatch I think “this is perfect, how could I want anything else?” But within minutes of every hour, the thoughts creep back in. Scheming how I can manage to obtain and eat my piece, of the pie, or should I say my “peace.”
On Jack’s boat I’m lazy. I know he is there to keep me safe and I put in minimal effort. I think back to the farm, when my days were so full. I feel like my hands and head were always busy. On my own boat, I imagine it would be similar. I’d be responsible for keeping the farm floating. Yet there’s something inherently isolating about being a sailor, living on a boat. And Jack, who has had partners on boats and been solo, is one of many who says solo sailing sucks. Maintaining a boat alone sucks. Living on a boat alone sucks. But do I perhaps needs to figure that out for myself? Will leaving this boat be one I will always live to regret? Will a boat of my own be my white whale? Something that will swallow me alive financially, emotionally, physically? Do I owe it to myself to figure that out?