It’s been so long since I’ve written anything that I feel flummoxed facing this blank white space. I’ve abandoned Perilous and Sparks, my mid-century mavens, in…well, it’s been so long since I’ve thought about them that I’ve forgotten where I left them. India, I think. My other writing projects have also fallen by the wayside. I force myself to occasionally update my journal, but it’s a sad artifact compared to the robust journals full of wild ideas that are currently in storage in Mississippi.
I’m not going to offer excuses. We all know what the past year has been like. Not writing is hardly a transgression. Most of us, I imagine, can pat ourselves on the back if we get through the day without a creeping sense of existential dread what with pandemics and political cataclysm and what have you.
Let’s not dwell. It seems my fingers are getting the hang of the keyboard, so I’ll launch into a State of the Shanti rather than covering world events that we all know too well.
The last time I updated the blog, we were staying in a hotel room in D’Iberville, Mississippi due to an onslaught of hurricanes making life aboard Shanti too tenuous. We stayed in the hotel for two months until we were all pretty well sick of looking at one another and eating TV dinners. However, moving back aboard Shanti wasn’t an option because the final hurricane finished off what had been left of the local marinas. We had nowhere to return Shanti to, so she floated forlornly in Biloxi’s back bay, and we became ever more anxious and unsure of how to proceed.
Over the weekend of November 21st, Jack and I took a couple of trips to local towns, just to walk around and get out of Fain’s face. Needless to say, no teenager wants to share a room with his parents for two months. Though he bore it bravely and with little unjustified complaint, we were definitely reaching the end of goodwill. So the two of us walked around and discussed our situation.
On the 22nd, over BBQ at a picnic table in Fairhope, Alabama, we decided we’d skip the idea of trying to motor the Shanti along the coast to North Carolina as she wasn’t anywhere near ready for that kind of trip and there was nowhere to get her ready, what with all the storm damage. We decided instead that we’d have her hauled overland to North Carolina, and we’d go on ahead by car, which we now had as we’d bought Granny Cat and Pappy Jack’s old PT Cruiser in early November. I got in touch with my friend Vicky, whose family has an old home that her great-grandfather built a century or so ago on the coast of North Carolina. I knew they used it primarily in the summer, so I asked if we could rent it through the winter. She did me one better and said we could stay for free as they like to have someone there.
One problem was solved, and we were feeling excited, so we immediately set about making plans to have Shanti hauled out and transported. In doing so, however, we had to consider the cost and how much work was left to be done to get her shipshape. We thought about Fain and the years that he’d patiently waited to finally begin sailing, and we acknowledged that he was (again, justifiably) beginning to lose a little faith in whether that would actually happen. We also had to acknowledge that we could get a newer, ready-to-sail boat for the cost of transporting and finishing Shanti.
Over the weekend of November 27th, we made the tearful decision to find a new home for Shanti and to begin our search for a boat that we could enjoy together before Fain was too old. And, look, that’s not to say we didn’t enjoy our time aboard Shanti. We have some fond memories, and we learned a lot–about living aboard, about independence, about the natural world, about being a family and a crew, about our resilience. Still, we’d all begun to be worn down by living aboard a floating construction site for years. It was time to recognize that circumstances had changed and to adjust our bearing accordingly.
We said farewell to Shanti the following weekend on December 4th and arrived in North Carolina on the 8th after several days on the road. We found ourselves in this charming, old home on a peninsula Down East, surrounded by water and greeted by familiar cormorants and gulls and herons. In a way, we’re hardly more on land now than we were aboard Shanti, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying having some space to spread out and to enjoy some privacy after our time in much closer quarters.
Of course, if you’ve learned anything about us, it’s that we’re constantly changing our course. It’s not fickleness. It’s situational awareness. Our goals when we moved aboard Shanti were to become more independent, to gain freedom, and to become more flexible, a trait common among nomadic people. When the weather changes, find better weather, for instance. As such, we’ve learned to abandon the idea of plans, to watch the world, and to adapt our bearing when it seems beneficial to do so.
Which brings us to the most current iteration of our itinerary.
We know that we want a larger boat and a boat ready to sail. We’ve decided that we’d like to do a Pacific crossing in order to deliver Fain personally to Japan, his lifelong dream home, which means we need a blue water boat. As such, we’ve begun to think that purchasing a boat on the West Coast might be our best option, and we’ve also faced the fact that we’ll need to save money a little longer. With that in mind, we’re now considering using some of our funds to pick up an old RV around here somewhere and make a road trip to the West Coast in late spring or early summer.
Fain is thoroughly down with the idea as he did want to see the West Coast before we leave the U.S. in our wake. He doesn’t even mind (too much) getting back into close quarters again if it means we’re traveling. He’s got his mother’s vagabond nature after all. I’m equally excited as I’ve wanted to do a cross-country trip with the kid since he was kneehigh to a grasshopper but never had the means.
So that’s where we are. Whew. That was a lot of writing. Maybe I’m back on the wagon. There’s plenty more to tell. I just wanted to get the basics covered so that our friends are all on the same page. I’ll try to write again soon to offer more details on the moment we’re in rather than all this summarizing. Until then, think buoyant thoughts!