The End of the Season

It may be in the 40s at night, but our space heaters keep down below nice and toasty.

It may be in the 40s at night, but our space heaters keep down below nice and toasty.

Frigid temperatures, bone-chilling wind, horizontal rain…

Not exactly the optimal forecast for sailing. It seems that Aaron and I might have to finally admit that the season is coming to a close.

Technically, the harbor stays open until Halloween, and we are as die-hard as they come in terms of leaving the boat in the water for as long as possible. But I just don’t have it in me to go out for an afternoon sail in snow boots and a parka.

Last year, when we packed the boat away, Aaron and I were sad. We shared amazing memories and the boat truly was our second home for the season. But this year, we are downright depressed. If anything, these past six months have made it apparent to me that we thrive in this lifestyle. Our family is at its best when we are out on the open sea, exploring, working together and living simply.

Clarity isn’t even out of the water yet, and already, we are thinking through an even longer trip for next year (if it’s possible with Aaron’s work schedule come spring). To do the trip in an affordable way, which means not staying at harbors every night, a lot needs to be figured out: easy anchoring, alternative energy sources (likely solar power), cleaning out the water holding tanks, getting a dingy, deciding if we tow it or install davits so it’s stored on the transom. Not to mention completely rethinking Claire’s cabin, as she will no longer fit in the travel crib that’s worked so well for the last two seasons.

This isn’t even half of the big projects that we will need to address while the boat is out of the water this winter. But keeping this list going and checking items off as best we can will help Aaron and I maintain sanity when the polar vortex descends again and two-story snow drifts envelope our cars.

There’s another element of planning, though, that goes beyond just next summer. Aaron has dreamed for years about extending our sailing lifestyle from six months of the year to all 12 – cruising the other Great Lakes, making our way to the East Coast, sailing down to Florida and perhaps, the Caribbean and beyond. Before, when we entertained the idea (sometimes in very heated discussions), it sounded like a great idea, but one that scared me immensely for a variety of (legitimate) reasons. Now, based on our experiences, and on my own time, it’s becoming a dream of mine, too.

Of course, making the decision to pursue that lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight and requires years of planning – finding a renter for our condo (or selling it), selling both cars, outfitting Clarity appropriately or buying a new boat, which means selling Clarity and searching for the perfect boat to meet our needs. And saving, saving, saving. Not to mention all of the research and mental planning that would need to take place.

The idea still scares me, but the excitement of it and the calling to take a leap and just do it is starting to outweigh the hesitations. And I think Aaron and I are in agreement that we refuse to wait to live our dreams until we’re both retired. Life is calling, right now, every day.

In the meantime, we will spend as much time as possible on Clarity before we deliver her to Skyway Yacht Yard. Space heaters, comfy blankets and a pot full of chili ought to do the trick on cold nights, and I still have faith that at least one more relatively warm, sunny afternoon will let us fill our sails.

…Little boat upon the sea, I wonder where you might take me…

Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain