Day 31 overall, Day 24 afloat, Ketchikan to Lake Bay

(Sorry about the delay in posting but I am trying to catch up here. We can’t post when we are out in the wilderness as we have no signal at all! We posted some items that were important, like the passing of our sweet little cat and the first visitors onboard, Andrew’s mom and Michael out of order but the next few will catch you up on the adventure.)

Striking out alone in search of adventure.

Blog Reader, Blog Reader, Blog Reader, another BIG DAY on vessel Domino and Tammy here at the Blog. We strike out today on our own and we are both scared and excited. If we pile up the lessons learned so far the stack is pretty large and not all those lessons are about boating. We are both smart enough to know that we know enough now to be dangerous so we keep our eyes open and we are agree that we are committed to keep learning while we keep safe. I can see how, with the wrong sort of ego, a new boater could get themselves in all kinds of trouble by thinking that they have learned it all. We slept in today and pulled in the ropes at 10:30. We made our way out of the slip on our own and out into Tongass Narrows with no trouble and we are headed to Lake Bay. We will cross Clarence Straights which can be rough. Weather today is cloudy and light breeze and some rain. We should have pretty calm waters.

I straightened up the boat and worked on photos most of the morning and Andrew took the helm. We arrived in Clarence Straight at 1:49 and I took the Helm so Andrew could take a shower and put away the laundry. I figure that if I have to do the laundry then he can put it all away because we share the work! Yeah, that’s the ticket! Andrew decided that he and kitty were tired and would take a little nap. It is a very calm day and there is minimal wind.

Funny about being alone at the helm, it always makes me think which is probably dangerous for me and my blog readers! This morning, while the rest of the crew is grabbing some extra zzzzs, I was thinking about the goals that I set for this trip. My goals were simple. I wanted to step down off my personal tread mill, focus on my health, gain some much needed perspective and take some past due measurements. In the heat of things I would never have considered that I might have unintentionally captured myself in a “small life” which I define as lacking excitement, experimentation, fulfillment and adventure. I am not talking about material wealth, big houses and fancy cars. In our 15 years of marriage, Andrew and I have both discovered that we both have the spirit of explorers in both work and personal life. We have also discovered that we make an amazing team on new adventures. I think what we have also now figured out is that if you don’t feed that spirit then you run the risk of living a smaller life than will make you happy. This whole thought process left me asking questions like these. Have our efforts been worth the rewards? Have we been going after the right prizes? Are we living in a mold that we rutted ourselves into and should we be thinking about change? Had I personally allowed myself to measure and compare my life to the lives of the other people and more importantly the wrong people? Had I allowed myself to accept parameters set by others who are also thinking and living a “small life”? Andrew often says that most people suffer from lack of imagination and I think he is right. So the rest of the summer I am committed to let my imagination run wild and see what kind of hair raising, risk taking, danger dodging adventure we can think of next because this challenge has been amazing and we are both feeling the astonishing happiness that comes from living larger.

A good friend, who has given me some great advice in the past and for whom I trust and have a great deal of respect, sent me a text this week. She said that she was so jealous of the things that Andrew and I were seeing and so envious of the days that we are spending together as a couple. She and I have shared a lot over the years and one of the running jokes between us is that my job was so stressful and surrounded by so much conflict that no one she knows wants my job or my life with those elements present. Those comments always frustrated me because I have a great husband and we love our home life. I have a fabulous job and it really was a bit of a shock when I started considering that no one really wanted it. I thought about her comments and our conversations in the past and a few days later I sent her text that simply read, “Finally? A life to be envied”? I suspect in some way we are all living smaller lives than we are capable of pursuing. Perhaps our friends and family are secretly hoping we will wake up, take the leap and live larger. I know that some of them just want us to be happy, while others are not risk takers and want to live vicariously. I think the question for us becomes how brave, how much risk, how many years and when should these adventures actually begin?

It does occur to me that twenty five years is a long time to dedicate to ANY effort and I am conflicted because I think in some cases the longevity is to be applauded. However, in other cases the longevity is just a case of fear, laziness or as Andrew says “a lack of imagination.” I had always hoped that I was living an interesting life, a fulfilling life, a life that was just the right size. I think I have now figured out that part of the problem was that living a life that is just the right size is not enough of a challenge for me and not very interesting in the end or maybe what I had judged as “just the right size” was actually way too tight after all.

As it turns out, I have rediscovered that time has incredible medicinal powers. My Psoriasis is invisible for the first time in 17 years. I feel like I should be a before and after commercial for Humera. I have always been confident but having to completely cover yourself up to hide your skin is always with you. I feel better, sleep better, eat better and breathe better. I am beginning to see clearly that what I thought I had accepted was really wearing on me and I understand now that I simply forgot to invest in myself. I had underestimated how much I love the adrenalin rush facing a new challenge. I think I now see that I need to go back to bushwhacking and carve out the path to a larger life. I have nobody to blame for the cul-de-sac that I have been circling around but myself. It is as if I started this trip shackled and burdened with weights so heavy that I could barely move and clearly had no other choice but to live a small life. It seems that with every step I take away from my old “small life” a shackle or weight falls away. If this keeps up I will be weightless by the end of summer.

This morning I am remembering the week in January, when I acutely felt the pinch of a life that was several sizes too small. In January, I was lying in a hospital bed suffering mightily, alone because Andrew had to head back to work. I felt squeezed, broken, miserable and feeling a little desperate. Somehow I had not seen my health going downhill and I was now suffering regret, an emotion that I despise. I was selfishly wishing that I had been paying more attention to ME all along! Looking back now I find it interesting that I was not sitting there in that hospital bed thinking gee I wish I could go home. I was sitting in that hospital bed thinking that I wanted to go right now and grab up my family, Andrew and Kitty, leave our possession, home and friends behind and go exploring and it needed to be a grand adventure that suited us all. I guess it sound tell me something that even feeling as terrible as I did I wanted a new challenge on the horizon. It still amazes me that I felt bad, I looked worse and all I could think about was getting dressed, packing up and heading out. Not for a single minute did I think I wanted think to go back to “normal”. It also occurred to me that neither Andrew nor Patience had signed up for this downward spiral. I suddenly and desperately wanted to pay them back for what must have been a terrible couple of years as they watched me beating myself down. There were many things that were not clear to me at that point but one thing was clear, I needed to take time and I really needed to think about resizing.

I was also sad at the realization that somehow I had willingly put on my own blinders, over the years, and I could no longer make out anything unless it was right in front of me and it had nothing to do with my eyesight. In boating it is like starring off into the horizon and seeing that horizontal line far off in the distance. You can’t quite make out the boat or the ice berg or the island but you see the blip. You know there is something out there so you keep looking. You give it some time and close in on the distance and then the blip gets clearer and clearer until you can finally make it out. I think I had stopped looking into the horizon.

Andrew and I discussed it and decided that there was no time like the present to give ourselves the gift of time, adventure and exploration. Once the discussions started it gained momentum almost immediately. We had both been feeling the lust for exploration and should really have been talking about it all along. We both began dreaming of unknown waters, blurry horizons, passages into “lightly charted areas” (we are not up to completely uncharted areas yet and neither of us has a death wish which is good.) The decision to take this adventure may have turned out to be the best gift that we have ever given each other and my hope is it brings the future back into focus and uncovers a few more blips in the horizon.

Footprint is another story. We have thought a lot about our footprint this summer and how important it is that we all do our part to protect and respect the environment. I now realize more keenly how amazing these fishermen and woman are that brave the weather and the waters every day to provide food to our tables. The survival of the sea life, the land animals and the very fisherman themselves all rely on us to ensure that we do our part to with clean air and water efforts. This all made me think about how surprisingly easy it has been to live well in a 40’ foot boat. I have been astonished at how little we really need each day and how cheaply and low fuss we have been able to live. I know it seems hard to believe but we have amazing amounts of room to breathe in this boat. Every day we have an unobstructed 360 degree view of the world, unless there is fog that is. It is true that at times, when it is cold, we close the doors and windows and cozy in and navigate and live from inside but when the weather is clear we open those doors and blend the outside and inside together and the difference becomes indistinguishable. Every day we are part of a much larger world around us.

We get so excited when we get a visit from some curious creature of all kinds ranging from massive and gentle to and fast and more dangerous. Some of them fly and some swim and other seem to just float on by undisturbed by our presents while other poke out an eye and then dive right back underwater. Some come so close and examine us and seem so interested in why we are examining them. This morning a humpback came right next to the helm door and swam with the boat. Finally he spouted and I could feel his spray and he raised his head and I swear he looked me right in the eye. I was so flabbergasted that I couldn’t do anything but stand there in amazement. It was so clear that he came up to take a look at me. He stayed with me for a few more minutes and then another spouted as if to say goodbye and he slowly dived down and gave me a tail splash as he disappeared. I was so happy that this giant creature decided to grace me with his visit.

The scenery has been rugged, natural, wild and uninhabited by humans. There are passages that are very difficult and often narrow to dangerous shallows, there are uncharted coves and undocumented rocks and between the weather which can be very cold and rainy and the need to be constantly vigilant, we often end our days exhausted but the happiness in the boat is unmeasurable. It would be very easy to allow yourself to think that this passage is too difficult, or that passage is too dangerous or scary but then we make it through and the blip in the horizon comes into view and Alaska blesses us for our bravery and reveals something new and wonderful about the land or the sea and the creatures that inhabit both. Andrew and I have remained mindful to thank each other every day for taking this leap. We both had to research, study navigation and charting and speak to many more experienced boaters to hear about their lessons learned. I think all the planning helped us build up the courage to actually make this trip. I do not regret a minute of the planning because now I see that it was also part of the adventure. Have there been times when I was afraid on this trip? The answer is yes and I think Andrew would say the same but the majority of the time we feel happy and confident and even when we are afraid we are together and we work through whatever the issue be it mechanical or directional. We have been challenged but we have learned so much and how else would you ever gain this type of boating experience if you didn’t just go for it. I am telling you that every day we are reaping the benefits of living a life that can only be defined as LARGER.

4:00 Andrew and Patience are up from their nap. We have had nice calm water all day today with 1-2 seas to stern. Light wind from the south @ 7 kts.

7:02 I like being on the radio and communicating with the boats around us. We spoke to a gill netter group today as we needed to make sure we weren’t near their nets. They appreciated the call and gave us coordinates to avoid so that we would miss their nets. They also gave us a heads up on weather for the area and the week. I wonder if we seem like tourists to them or if some of them hate the pleasure yachts that come through and interrupt their view. I think that most of them appreciate you if you are a safe boater and respect the boundaries of their fishing grounds. I also think that people can’t help but look out for each other out here in the open water and I know that I appreciate that.

7:30 We anchored at Lake Bay (Stevenson Island). I took the Dinghy and set crab pot. When I returned to the boat Andrew and I watched a bear cub swim across the channel ahead of us and then run into the woods. We then saw an adult black bear turning over rocks on the shore to eat mussels.

This is Tammy on vessel Domino signing off and headed to my bunk to dream of adventures. This is our first night out on our own. We will miss the flotilla but we are so looking forward to the challenge of the next stage of this adventure. See you tomorrow on VHF channel 68.

  • Left Dock/Weighed anchor: Ropes off at 10:30 AM
  • Cruise Log: 62.66 Nautical Miles
  • Weather Conditions: Cloud and calm, little rain
  • Navigational Obstacles: Rapids in the Dinghy
  • Wildlife Sighting: Black Bear
  • Arrived Dock/Dropped anchor: Arrived @ 7:30 PM
  • Slip for the night: $0
  • Time today Helm for TEA: 3 hrs
  • Time today Helm for ACA: 6 hrs
  • Lessons learned: Never leave Tammy alone at the helm with a blog to write. Yikes, so long!
  • Fun Meals underway: Biryani- This one is for you Zishan @ JPMORGAN Chase. Thanks for the brand referral and the cooking tips. It turned out great and in a tiny little boat kitchen too!

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