Surely you noticed a gap in my posts… of like a year. What happened? I feel I owe you an explanation.
After we left La Cruz, we were at sea for 23/24 days. It was mostly idyllic sailing conditions pepper with a few squalls, but something happened. I was doing night watches and teaching the girls during the day. I did pretty well for a little over a week. The constant movement of the boat had my tummy upset, so I wasn’t eating much except occasional handfuls of nuts and sea sickness pills. With my focus completely on the girls’ wellbeing, and days melting into one another, I didn’t notice. Almost complete lack of sleep, very little food, and dehydration put me into a really bad place. We finally figured out the sleep issue, so I went onto a diet of sleeping pills in addition to the sea sickness pills. I lost 20 pounds, was shaking badly, and beset with crippling anxiety.
That was when Kevin asked me the last time I ate. I couldn’t remember. The first few meals made my stomach ache badly, despite the small portions and light fare. That was when I realized how bad off I was. A sailing friend later told me that it’s important to eat at sea every few hours as the appetite tends to disappear. Sure wish I had known that ahead of time.
When we made landfall in the Marquesas, I was improved, but had not gained weight. Frankly, I looked in better health physically and mentally than a number of other sailors I saw. There is a reason not a lot of people do the puddle jump. It’s a long time for even a salty person to remain at sea.
We met some really sweet cruising families and ended up buddy boating with them all the way to Tahiti. BUT…. while in the Tuomotus, I received news that my beloved Grandfather was dying. There was no way to get to his bedside from the middle of no-where in time.
Just a few days later, my Mom called on the sat phone and informed me “this was it”. I took the phone on deck. The sun was setting and a squall was blowing in. I could see the curvature of the earth in the distance and in infinity of blue just beyond the white coral motu in front of us. A determined palm tree had managed to grow on the motu. A solitary terrestrial presence in an azure desert.
I called. Even with the storm clouds rolling in, encircling us, I had a signal. It called to mind visions of The Nothing, from “The Never Ending Story”. My throat was constricted, and tears rolled down my cheeks. As I eyed the approaching lightning, growing ever brighter with the disappearance of the sun, I told my Grandfather who I was, that I was sorry I couldn’t be at his bedside, but that I loved him very much. Above, the tiny hole in the storm clouds finally snapped shut. The line went dead as I said that last word, and the squall was on us.
The heavens opened up and cried. Thunder and lightning expressed the intensity of my grief. The world mourned with me.
The next day, I was able to connect with my Mom. Grandpa had heard every word. She said his breathing changed and he responded to my voice. That was the source of a great deal of relief and happiness. He knew. I still can’t believe the sat phone worked with a storm of that intensity literally on us. It frequently didn’t work in the best of weather.
The funeral was quickly held. I couldn’t make it. I’m told it was a lovely service and that the church was overflowing.
It took me about six months to really come to terms with his death. I was simultaneously fighting the long term effects of the trip, trying to acclimate to the sights and sounds of modern life, and trying to gain weight back.
In March, I became extremely ill. Cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing, basically I was plagued by all the symptoms of corona virus except for the fever. At the time I was sick, there was no test available. I was bed-ridden for two and a half weeks before I could begin recovering. At the time of this writing, my lower legs still hurt, I have a recurring cough, and I can’t walk for longer than 10 minutes without losing my ability to breath.
On the plus side, I don’t jump at loud noises anymore or shake uncontrollably. My sleeping and eating patterns are normalized, and I’ve even been known to smile from time to time. Though I still feel the call of the sea, Reverie is sold. She’s a beautiful boat, took us safely to the South Pacific, and hosted many adventures for us along the way, but I just couldn’t go back to her.
We went to my Grandma’s 80th birthday, and came back to California. I’m now completing a certification program, self-publishing my first children’s picture book, and helping other new homeschoolers.
I had written a number of posts while underway and will publish them. It will impact the continuity of this blog, but I’m okay with that. I’m not certain if this is the end of the floating schoolhouse; time will tell.