Sunday, November 2, 2008

300 Days Afloat

300 Days Afloat-Another Chapter Comes to a Close

Since I took the opportunity to reflect upon our journey as a family after 100 and 200 days afloat I guess it seems reasonable to write a 300 days afloat article. We certainly have experienced much in the last 300 days and as I write this article I find myself struggling with two opposing emotions I believe common to most cruisers, or to anyone who chooses to live a life of exploration and discovery.

This morning we made one last round in the marina saying goodbye to so many who have become family to us over the last two and a half months. We said goodbye to Vince, Basil, and Maggie, the three boat dogs that came to visit daily and always brought a smile to our faces. They were charming additions to the marina and we will miss them and their owners.

I am the first to admit that I do not do goodbyes well, and frankly I do not like them, so I generally choose to say, "See you soon" or "take care and we will catch you on the water in Belize". The truth is we will undoubtedly see some of our new friends again and others we will not likely see again. I am reminded of the statement made by Jodi Picoult in her book Keeping Faith, "The truth doesn't always set you free; people prefer to believe prettier, neatly wrapped lies."

The reality is we said goodbye to a number of people today who we will not see again soon, if ever. Many are sailing south and we are sailing north. Still others like our friends Frankie and Roger on s/v Infinity who we planned on sailing with all the way from Panama to Florida have encounter boat and health challenges that have held them in Panama and we doubt our sailing paths will ever cross again. It is tempting and certainly more comfortable for me to construct a prettier neatly wrapped lie that denies this reality and yet I recognize it is not the truth. The leavening ingredient that makes all these goodbyes palatable is that those we left behind this morning gave us much, having invested themselves in relationship with us, and we are better because of it.

Amy and Marshall have matured so much during our time in Guatemala. A number of people commented on how nice it was to see Marshall come out of his shell, and Amy is quickly changing from a little girl into a lovely lady. We owe much of this maturation process to the individuals who took the time to befriend and get to know us and our kids. There were many days that our kids spent more time with other people in the marina than with us on our boat. I was proud of Marshall at the Halloween party for wearing a costume that most 10 year old boys would not. He liked it and wore it proudly and even won a prize for funniest costume. Amy also dressed up and won the award for most original costume in the adult category and danced the night away with all of us.

The contrary emotion I am facing is one of excitement. As we lifted the anchor and began to slowly motor away from the marina I felt like dancing on the foredeck. We were no longer tied to a dock. I could feel the water moving under Mima and the breeze blowing through my hair. It felt like I was taking that first motorcycle ride in the spring. It was as if I had been confined and bounded with no horizon and now I had been set free. Amy, with her highly social personality, liked the marina and easy access to so many people and activities but Sue and I are not marina folks. The confines of the marina and lack of privacy and independence do not appeal to us and as we motored down the Rio Dulce we began to feel free again. We dropped the anchor in Texan Bay, where we will spend the night before checking out of Guatemala and heading to sea tomorrow and begin to rediscover why it was that we went cruising in the first place.

Today we said goodbye in order that tomorrow we might say hello to new people and places. The very nature of the cruising lifestyle requires that one become proficient at saying hello and goodbye. We all admit that we like the hellos better than the goodbyes but we are also realizing that the reason the goodbyes are difficult is because we have been blessed to make so many good friends. As we journey on together as a family we remain committed to investing in our relationships with each other and those with whom we have the pleasure to come in contact with.

We wish you many happy hellos and sad goodbyes, the 4Wheelers

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