Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The incoming Marathon Class of 2010 - Will you be part of the class of 2011??

Pat and I were in our dinghy heading to shore when we saw him. He was standing on the deck of his shiny new sailboat, his shirt was off and he posed with his hands on his hips as his eyes scanned the broad expanse of Boot Key Harbour. The sun darkened head and the white body of someone who has been outside but bundled up, was the dead giveaway of his newbie status in the South of Florida and of his entry into the Marathon class of 2010. By spring the colour of his belly will match the colour of his face. Every year there is an exodus boats making the trip from colder climes to the warmth of the promised land in the southern states and this year, despite all of the prognostications of economic doom and gloom, is no different.

I remember sitting on my boat at anchor in Pryners Cove, at the junction of the Upper Gap and Adolphus Reach on Lake Ontario, thinking that I could really get used to this boating lifestyle. (The moment is captured in our blog ID photo) It was nearing the end of our annual three week sailing vacation, and in a few days we would be back into the world of business attire, airports and incessant meetings. Perhaps it was the wine, the perfect sunset, or perhaps it was the relaxing effects of three weeks without a hard schedule, e-mail or cell phones, but whatever the cause I broached the idea of sailing off into the sunset to my wife Pat.

It wasn’t the first time the thought had crossed my mind, but dreams have a way of getting paved over by too many years of mortgage payments, raising a family and annual performance reviews. Instead of getting the “are you crazy” look, she responded with several practical questions that needed to be answered. Who will look after the kids? What will we do with the house? Do we have enough money? What if we don’t like it?

The questions were indeed practical and important, and answers were not immediately at hand, but the important thing to me was the fact that she didn’t outright refuse to consider the possibility nor did she ask me if I was “nuts”, although I’m sure the latter question must have crossed her mind. For me it was cathartic just to get the suggestion out into the open, and so our journey to become live aboard full time cruisers began. Perhaps even more importantly the basis for a successful cruising relationship was laid, because with the exception of handling the boat in an emergency when debate can be fatal, unilateral decisions ultimately tend to lead to grief when you are living within the confines of a boat.

It has been several years since that day in Pryner’s Cove, and from that first conversation we watched our youngest daughter graduate from university, we emptied the contents of a four bedroom house into a 42 foot sailboat and an 8x10 foot storage locker. We have put over 4000 miles under our keel, and in the process learned that there is a real difference between making a living and actually living. We have also made more new friends than since we started elementary school. Friends that go beyond an entry in a contact file, but people with whom you share a common bond and with whom working to get to know better is a genuine pleasure.

Over the past year we have enjoyed experiences that will last us for the rest of our lives and yet I cannot help but feel a certain melancholy. The sadness is not for ourselves but for the friends and family who are still toiling away doing the things that they feel they must. In the past 12 short months we have received news of friends and colleagues who are no longer with us and of others who are fighting for their very lives. Our hearts go out to them, and we pray that they, and their loved ones will see the light at the end of the tunnel.

As I write this, I’m sitting on an Air Canada flight from Fort Lauderdale to Montreal, and despite the minus 18C temperature that awaits Pat and me when we land, we are excited to be on our way to visit with friends and family over the holiday period. It seems like an eternity ago, but December 20, 2009 marked our entry into the Marathon class of 2009. When we return to the south we will be equally excited to meet and greet the Marathon class of 2010. Not a day goes by when we do not count our blessings for the fact that we have been fortunate enough to make a break from the ordinary into the extraordinary. Hopefully somebody who reads this will become part of the class of 2011.

Have a great week, I know I will.


I was camera challenged over the last few months. My Nikon D300 met with some unfortunate contact with water so I was out of commission for awhile. As a result there aren't as may photos as usual, but it's all good now!

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Glad to have an update at long last, we were getting a bit concerned!
Your daugher is lovely!
Carol & Helmut