Final days before entering the largest pond…

By: Noah D.

Four more days.

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I suppose, other than the constant days out sailing in all manner of conditions, it does not feel like we’re about to leave for a 700 mile trip to Ireland on Sunday. We’re getting tons of work done on the boat, making a few minor upgrades (like a super-high volume bilge pump) and getting things serviced (like our life raft). But we would be completely remiss if we didn’t attempt to keep our home feeling like a home.2014_11.15-6326

Lynn has gotten Proteus into the holiday spirit by decking us out with some lights and our Christmas decorations (sans tree). She has said regularly that this boat is our home and it should look like we live here. There is nothing stark or sterile about it. It is lived in. And loved. And loved in.

But, finally, the first leg of our trip to the USA is coming up fast. And part of that process from the beginning has been getting “certified.” You might have seen it on the Twitter if you’re following us there, but I got my International Certificate of Competence from the RYA. It required a day of hanging out with our new friend Mick Meadows from East Anglian Sea School and running dozens of practical and theory exams.

Lynn says that she is not nervous about the coming passage. She says that she doesn’t know why she should be nervous. All the things we have done over the past few months have been driving toward the beginning of this trip. And it is here. I’m only nervous – maybe “nervous” isn’t the right word at all, though – because it is the beginning of something that I have dreamt of doing for as many years as I can remember. We are examples of setting your mind to something, surrounding yourself with good friends and good family to help you on your way, and then actually going and doing what you say you’re going to.

It is all about the doing.

I had never touched a sailboat before I bought my first tiny dinghy for a couple hundred dollars: a 12 foot sloop rigged Alcort Puffer. The old harbor master (Ernie) at Browns Creek Sailing Marina in Guntersville, Alabama, helped me set it up for the first time and get it into the water. Then, with me sitting in the boat and him standing on the dock, he briefly said things like, “Put this here… do this… hold that… do this when this happens and when this happens do this…” Ernie then shoved me off the dock and walked away, and that’s where my life sailing began.

Now we are about to kick ourselves off a dock in England and sail across an ocean that was once considered to be the end of the known world less than a millennia years ago. The scale of Ernie’s impromptu, “Put this here… do this when this happens and when this happens do this…” has multiplied immensely. Such is the nature of all life, is it not, and the evolution in the life of man? All start in a small pond – perhaps even a puddle – then move down the stream into the lake, then onward, each time looking at the next body of water as being a million miles wide and almost as deep. This time, though, we and Proteus are entering the realm of the largest pond: a realm in which even the biggest fish cannot fathom its vastness. We sense the presence of this next step drawing near. And this Sunday, after one year, two months, and 15 days in England, we will be kicking off the dock with as little pomp and circumstance as we arrived, and setting off to sail home in the west, somewhere beyond the end of the earth.

To see what happens next, I hope you’ll stay tuned…

 

The better direction planning…

By: Noah D.

“If everyone’s worst problem was thrown into a pile together, you might have trouble getting yours back.” ~my mother

So long ago that I can’t even find it, I wrote an article about plans. The gist of it was that, if I had done exactly what I intended to do with my life immediately after graduating high school, I would have been letting myself down. I could have never expected what I’ve done at my mere 28 years of age.

 

2014_09.12-5617Now… …over the past few months, and in an uncharacteristically forward thinking act, Lynn and I have been developing a plan for the next few years. Let’s call it “The Three Year Plan.” This plan included staying in England for Lynn to finish her degree. This would allow us to both get visas that would expire in approximately three years (end of 2017). She would go to school; I would work. We would sail and live on Proteus during this time, save money, and get ready for the moment when we would sail away at the end of our “England Years” and spend a little time (or a lot) doing some serious cruising.

As of now, all that little plan is breaking down. Proteus is fine. We are fine. But my visa is not.

Essentially, a relatively obscure fine print in the vast tome that is the UK Immigration Law is preventing me from getting a visa with Lynn. She can get a visa. I cannot. She can stay until 2017. I cannot. But, in her words, “I don’t care where it is. Where you go… I go.” There is a chance that I could sue to remain with her; however, the success of such a thing in such a legalistic society is quite remote. Pleading with a judge based on “…but, we want to be together because… love!” only works in Disney movies, not immigration court. These appeals also take a long time to go through. There’s a slightly higher chance that I’ll meet a miracle man (or woman) and someone will hire me, qualifying me for a different type of visa that is separate from Lynn’s. These other visas are based, by and large, on qualifications and the amount of money you make in the job that someone promises you.

But these chances are exactly that – chances – and we must prepare for contingencies. All things change for those who wait.

A new direction…

The foundation of the Original Plan – of which Proteus is a major part – is still solid. More than solid, actually. The unforeseen visa dilemma, though, has gutted the middle part of the plan. Like the long Tetris piece perfectly fitting to complete and vaporize a whole four-row section all at once, the “three year” part of this plan has vanished and everything above it has fallen to meet the base. Sailing away from England in the Winter is becoming a distinct reality.

Not only a distinct reality, but a matter of days away. Over the past few weeks, we have fully moved our entire existence into Proteus. As recently as yesterday, even, I closed out our small storage unit and got rid of the final few items that could not fit in the boat. In a few days, the final few things tying us to the UK will dissolve and we will be a little island of our own. The first week of December, we will be sailing Proteus out of the UK and into a non-British country (Ireland) before Christmas. After Christmas, we will begin our trek home… and that is where things get exciting.BigTripPlan_alt

Sailing plans are normally written in sand, as the old saying goes, but we have established a tentative schedule. For now, the end of our route is definitely a return to Haiti, the uber-beautiful Ile-a-Vache. We should be there sometime in late-Spring. And then – eventually – we will see what we find after that point. We’ll likely find jobs doing something and Lynn will finish her year or so of school…

…and then… I suppose there are no limits to where we could go. I feel as though we are entering the serendipitous realms of such storytelling sailors as World Tour Stories (who just had a similar abrupt change of plans), White Spot Pirates, Matt & Jessica (also changing plans), Delos, and so many others. We rather aspire to similar good fortune in their travels.

And finally, it must be said, when all this stuff started going down, Lynn and I discussed having two bedrock-solid factors in our lives: each other… and our Proteus. I hope you’ll stay tuned… because there’s absolutely no way of knowing what is coming up next.

“Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.”
~Dalai Lama

A Highland road trip…

By: Noah D.

Occasionally, even the perpetual travelers must take a vacation. With my parents visiting the UK, we took the opportunity to drive up north and visit Scotland for the first time. (Well, my first time… Lynn’s second.)

The North: #Newcastle #Tyne #angel #uk #england #travel

A photo posted by Noah D. (@haonavy) on

Rather than a true “highland visit” we mostly visited Edinburgh. And drove much of the countryside between Ipswich and Edinburgh. Hadrian’s Wall, Newcastle’s “Angel of the North,” et al. But road trips are always a pleasure. Perhaps that’s why living in a voyaging sailboat is such an attraction: life is a perpetual road trip.

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Out and about (sailing) on the Orwell River…

By: Noah D.

Now that our time in England is winding down, Lynn and I are spending most of our time on Proteus. And, every chance we get we are going out of the Prince Philip Lock and onto the River Orwell.

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And today was the best yet. Not only did we really get to put the giant genoa up for the first time – the previous trip was motor only because the furling equipment wasn’t 100% put together yet – but the day was just beautiful. The previous day (Halloween) was one of the warmest on record for the UK. And a brilliant sky. It continued into today…

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The above photo is colored a little weird because it was shot through the heavily-tinted skylights. But it gets the point across how enormous the headsail is.

And, no, we didn’t put the main up yesterday because we are sorting some technical issues out with the stack-pack sail bag. Even so, with only the genoa up, we were pulling at 5kts in just over 10kts air. I was quite surprised, actually. It was pushing us much faster than some of the 20ft-30ft boats out on the river, too.

But, it is not about the speed. It is just about getting out on the water and spending time with the boat. We’d be out again today, but I’m sitting watching the rain fall onto those same skylights. Proteus keeps us dry and warm.

Stay tuned…