I woke up this morning with the opposite of writer’s block…I had writer’s eruption!!! My mind was literally teeming , bursting, swimming with thoughts of all kinds: love, life, fear of finding out, fear of being found out, achievement and failure, confusion and clarity, yearning and contentment, pride , regret….all at the same time. I have to think that my state of mind is not likely anything new (I am the original multi tasker with my thoughts going in a hundred different directions at once often), and I have determined this mental traffic jam was likely brought on our mode of transportation of late. We go S L O W, and so my usual frenetic thoughts that are normally fleeting quickly, are lingering a little longer than normal and piling up one on top of another. Hmmmm…
Jeff, Max and I were immersed in real regret to leave the beautiful SAN JUAN ISLANDS as we launched from Friday Harbor, Tuesday, in the midst of the heaviest winds we have seen yet. I will miss the hustle bustle of this quaint and charming spot with fishing boats scooting about, fellow sailors anchored nearby, loud horns announcing the arrival or departure of the ferries that service the outlying islands and mainland, seaplanes taking off and landing so close to Samsara that you can wave to the paying customers and the pilots as the wake of the seaplane rocks Samsara side to side. While it was the busiest place we have spent any considerable time, Friday Harbor still exists somewhere back in time in many respects. There are few cars, no Starbucks, no recognizable retail brands, but rather small shops that appear to open and close at the whim of the shop keepers schedule, that is if and when they get around to it. Even the best restaurants were closed on Monday, Labor Day, surely one of the busiest and most fiscally fruitful days of the short season. But that’s just the way it is here. People truly seem to beat to a different drum. And, they are noticeably nice. It appears nothing irks them or prompts them to do anything faster than pretty slow. Refreshing , to say the least. Friday Harbor ranks was one of our favorites stops.
Saturday night as we collectively got closer to agreeing that we had done what there was to be done here, we started attending to our remaining San Juan Islands bucket list. Until Monday, we had not seen Orcas in the wild as we had hoped, so with our bank accounts $199.00 lighter, we resorted to a professional whale watching outfitters and BINGO did they deliver! Less than 30 minutes from the departure dock, in an open air flat bottomed boat that skimmed the top of the ocean chop at break neck speeds, we were gazing at the enormous dorsal fin ( they grow to 24-30 ft, and weigh approximately 12000 pounds ) of a huge mama Orca
( the dads split after the calves are born returning immediately to their own mamas) and her 3 calves!!! In all their splendor it was impossible not to anthropomorphize and imagine them as docile, sweet, gentle, graceful giants out for a sunset stroll as they lumbered their way into Canada. Something glorious to witness so closely.
Also on our bucket list, fueled by a desire to see the way the locals live, on the day we left we rented bikes and rode the back roads of San Juan. Seeing the island interior and the way islanders
live on land from the solid ground beneath our bike pedals completed our experience of this beautiful area. We passed, horse farms and hay fields, cottages and smallish mansions. We saw huge herds of cattle grazing, and sheep following…. A completely different ecosystem than what life aboard Samsara had been offering, and an appropriate epilogue to our visit.
We are surely going to miss this place: the quiet tucked away coves that served as our nightly hotel rooms ( always with views) where the rocky cliffs come right down to the water’s edge; the moist black dirt of the forests where the tall perfectly straight trunks of the conifers grow seemingly sky high while the forest floor beneath them is blanketed in lacy lush green ferns; where huge bald eagles sit defiantly like nature’s monarchy on the tippy tops of the pine trees scouting out their prey ( after nearly facing complete extinction due to the impact of pesticides, the bald eagle is now off the endangered species list and the islands are home to 220 pair of these magnificent birds). We will always remember silently hiking the canopied island trails listening to the sound of the whirring wind whistle around the tree leaves, and watching the winged pods from the maple trees helicopter lightly down to the ground in front of us. We are going to miss early evenings shrouded in obscured sunlight when we sat in the salon, cocktail in hand, watching the horizon turn from sky blue to dusty pink as we reflected on the pristine beauty here in the Pacific Northwest. In the omnipresent and never ending tussle between man and nature it appears here, in the magnificent San Juan Islands, nature has delivered a rare and decisive TKO. It is both heartwarming and encouraging. We will miss the serene, and settled feeling of these lush islands: large and tiny (hundreds in fact with only 174 named offering a splendid home to less than 13000 total inhabitants ). Being here was like stopping life as we knew it cold turkey, like hitting the biggest speed bump ever.
Before we actually launched on this adventure: Max, Jeff and I considered the inevitability that this adventure would unfold as a unique experience in each of our lives. And in that respect our journey has not disappointed. Living together, day and night, in a very small space, we have gotten to know each other in new ways. Traveling with Jeff is always like being with James Audubon, Huell Howser and Rick Steve all rolled into one dynamic tour guide! Max and I were enlightened daily on the island’s flora and fauna, it’s history including the infamous Pig Wars, past explorers, and early native Americans. Jeffs voracious appetite for learning always benefits us all and enhances our experiences immensely.
Max has proven to be a masterful boat handler well beyond either my or Jeff’s comprehension. A penultimate boat whisperer, who, time and time again, displayed an amazing depth of skill at the helm while navigating Samsara’s 55ft with amazing ease. Watching his mind take a back seat and, seemingly intentionally, inviting his senses and instincts to take over in incredibly tight situations where a wrong move could have proven disastrous, was just magical. I noticed that while executing a difficult maneuver, he often stared into space and bit his lip a bit, as he visibly went to another place in his mind. It was obvious he was, at least in part, “feeling” the solution. His knowledge of boat mechanics is also astounding. Witnessing so much natural talent was a wonder to behold. Max surely taught me that so much of sailing is letting go; slowing way down and allowing the effects of one movement to be witnessed before initiating the next one; easing up rather than gripping tighter. A concept applicable to so many areas of life.
It has been delightful as well to watch Max fish with unbounding enthusiasm. Never have I seen him so completely and totally exhilarated as when he suddenly hears the whirl of the fishing rod with its line trolling behind Samsara as it buzzes loudly indicating….. something bit!!! With lightning speed, he grabs the rod and begins to reel in whatever surprise is on the end of his line….100% focused, lost in the experience. A form of meditation for him, for sure. First catch was a beautifully iridescent blue albacore tuna with 2 more to follow, followed by too many spotted lingcod to count. But just yesterday, the real prize: a silvery 30’’ king salmon!!! The look on his face was priceless! Culinarily speaking, none of those can overshadow the previously noted dozens of dungeones crab caught in the lobster trap he fortuitously brought along. When Max was barely 4 years old, he caught his first fish off a small dock on Balboa Island holding it up proudly for a photo op. A classic family photo even today
! We knew then he LIKED to fish, but never before have I witnessed the pure joy that overcomes during the process.. It’s safe to say Max LOVES to fish.
And so here we are. Somewhere off the coast or Oregon … lumbering like a whale in the open ocean heading south to home, I guess, although “home” already in this short time away has a new connotation, and it’s a little fuzzier than when we left. Surprisingly, we are not pining for our large walk in duel headed shower at Aleppo, our 6 burner Dacor professional oven ( while cooking on Samsara is a topic of worthy of a lengthy discussion better left for another day), our 48 inch Sub zero “side by side” that holds enough food for what, comparatively, feels like a lifetime, or our European model clothes washer/ dryer that spends more time cleaning barely soiled items rather than the hand washed clothes on our line on Samsara hanging out to dry because we just can’t wear them one more day. We miss you all more than any domestic convenience.
Our tenants have 14 months left on their lease meaning Jeff and I have 14 more months of being untethered to dry land. I think that brings me back to my opening paragraph and gives me permission to delve into some of those thoughts more deeply as we continue our journey on Samsara. If I make any groundbreaking psychological progress, I’ll report in next time. It’s all part of the journey I’m learning.
5 thoughts on “Kate’ Blog #5”
Beautiful. You took me right there. Xo
Sheila and I have big smiles on our faces! You have a knack for grabbing your readers! Sail on! Semper Fi! Batman
Good for you, Finally! Bon Voyage and keep the beautiful adventure blogs coming 🙂 Best regards to Jeff and Max. Love you, The Marei Family
I saw your picture on a big, beautiful yacht somewhere. It suites you. Hope all’s well with you and your family. Living the dream!
Jeff & Katie