Sunday, 11 January 2015

outside the box

That day's neighbour
My pen hovers over the paper. I feel anxiety fill my chest. How do I answer that? The choices are always limited. Limited to a lifestyle I gave up long ago.

I hate filling out forms. Whenever I’m faced with bureaucracy, I simply cannot squeeze into a box. Repeated attempts at twisting and molding myself into a tiny definition of who I am and how I live, cause me to break out in a cold sweat. There are the obvious boxes. The ones that expect you to have utilities bills and a tenancy agreement. We make our own electricity and water, and we live on a boat that was paid for a long time ago. Though, we do drop a few dollars a month for a mooring, simply for the convenience of rowing to shore in less than 5 minutes, our needs are simple and few.

To tell you the truth, when officialdom knocks at my door, I want to go hide under the bed. But I don’t have a bed.

Then there are the boxes that want you to define yourself with a career. That one is a little easier for Rick. I, on the other hand, have worn many hats over the years. I don’t really have any clear answers when I’m asked about my future career aspirations. I work when I need to, and I certainly do not define myself by what I do. At 42, that gets me strange looks. You don’t want to be something? Don’t you have ambitions? You just want to live on a boat, draw pictures and write stories? That’s apparently cuter when you are twenty then when you are a mature adult. That’s not reality. Well, I have news, it’s my reality. Even if by necessity I have to go to work in the morning, my priorities are not about climbing the “ladder of success”.

Photo of Nyon courtesy of
s/v Calico Jack
For the sake of consistency and order, humans tend to want rules and parameters to function. But for those of us that have left the path of normalcy, these parameters are often like putting on ill-fitting clothes. We feel uncomfortable and we look a little strange.

Rick and I have dropped the hook in one community for the past year, and I’m finding it hard to make a place for myself. After letting the winds and seasons direct my path for nearly 3 years, I am now living with one foot on my boat and one foot on land again. I have the heart of a gypsy, but I’m in a world where defining myself is like trying to tick a box on a form. I hover around the perimeter and resist putting pen to paper.

The friends I have made tend to be hoverers like me. Unfortunately, hoverers don’t stick around and when they do, they can be difficult to find. I feel most at home when we’re anchored next to one of the 144 islands in the Bay. I love our barefoot tramps on our favourite islands and collecting green lipped mussels. Yet I have no idea how to find a space for myself as soon as I near civilization.

At home on the water
I remember reading about other long time travelers’ struggles with adapting to a more static lifestyle, even if temporarily. I didn’t understand. I hadn’t been free yet, so free that floating in the middle of an enormous ocean had become my “normal”. When you have experienced that, the world will always seem a little off kilter when you reach shore.

I am grateful for what I have lived out there, and for what I have yet to experience. Yes, I am also grateful for this chapter. I know it seems like I am contradicting myself, but the life of a sea-gypsy has taught me to work through the discomforts and fears I face. I just haven't found something that fits yet. And I still want to write a story when I am expected to simply tick a box. I realize now, that it's okay. And I'm okay.

An island we love

Sunday, 4 January 2015

goin' old school

View from the bowsprit
I hadn’t sailed on someone else's boat in a long time. And unlike Rick, I had never sailed on a tall ship. A little while ago, I was offered the opportunity to spend a day sailing in the Bay of Islands on the R. Tucker Thompson. It was too good to say no to, so we said yes. 

There is nothing like a beautiful ship
doing what it does best

There are many more lines than Nyon

The Tucker from Roberton Island

In his element

The view from my perch

Climbing the rigging and loving it

In awe

Happy sailors


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