I unzip the door of the giant blue canvas cover that blankets her through the winter, and step up onto the deck of the boat I’ve called my summer home for twelve years. Soon, the work will begin, but I settle for a moment in the blue-tinged light of the cockpit. I am home again.
I have two homes, two very different, very beautiful homes. Each place makes my heart sing, each to a different tune, though always the winds sing along, one through the junipers, the other through the rigging.
I was not called to the sea until I was a woman in the summer of my life, a woman who loved a man who loved the sea. He courted me across the country. He sent me Cruising World magazines, and asked me to marry and sail away with him. Though I only sailed with him one weekend on a small charter boat, his dream lived on in me after the accident that killed him.
Instead of making my way to the sea then, I made a home in the desert. A healing place that years later still nurtures me. But I dreamed. I dreamed of learning to sail. I dreamed of a boat I could sail myself. I read about boats, and I dreamed.
Seasons passed. I met another man who, like me, had lost a mate he loved. We came to know each other through grief. But we grew to love each other through the dream to sail. He sold a house and bought the perfect boat, an oceangoing cutter with lovely lines. When considering that decision, he meditated and found the message, “Move toward the light.” We named her Kagán, light in the Tlingit language. She has been a source of light ever since.
When that man was being taken by cancer, we held hands and talked of the adventures we shared for eight years on our fair little ship. The day in Thompson Sound that hundreds, maybe thousands, of Pacific White-Sided Dolphins leapt around us while we drifted. The beam reach across Baker Passage, going faster than hull speed, the boat in perfect balance, he on the helm wearing a mile-wide grin and me whooping with joy on the windward combing. The days at anchor, the only boat in the Susan Islets, waiting each evening for the black bear to come feast on the apples of the abandoned homestead on shore. Fresh prawns, hauled up from the deep in our traps, steamed then dipped in lemon butter, dinner for seven nights in a row, never tiring of their sweetness. The blessed hush when the engine goes quiet, and the sails take you home. Wherever home will be that night.
Is home a place? A person? A feeling?
I have found home in places that fill my heart with joy. I have found home with cherished partners, here and gone.
I am now in the autumn of my life, but it’s a warm, sunny spring in British Columbia and the sea is calling. I stand and pull the key ring from the pocket of my jeans. I unlock the padlock that’s kept Kagán secure through the winter, slide the hatch open, and lift the companionway boards out. I step down the ladder that I’ll run up and down a thousand times this sailing season. Hands on my hips, I look around the cabin and wonder where to begin, moving back home.
After eight years as Kagán’s First Mate, Deb Green took the helm as Skipper after her partner, Jerry Blakely, passed away in the spring of 2013. 2016 is her fourth season as Skipper. She sails with her boyfriend, new-to-sailing First Mate Eric Hubbard, and her intrepid little boat dog, Capi.
This one really touched me. I had no idea you were a sailor. I am not, but your description was beautiful. Thanks!
Hope you’ll keep sailing along with the fair ship Kagán, Doug!
This story resonates with me for many reasons…I also have two homes, one on land and the other on our beloved sail boat, SV Sea Sparrow. I am very happy in our small home on Vancouver Island, Canada, where I spend winters, but my heart’s home is on the water in the Pacific Northwest. I agree there is magic in that moment when sails take over and everything seems possible! At that moment I am always reminded of the lyrics of Christopher Cross ” sailing takes me away to where I want to be” !
There’s really nothing like it, is there? Here’s to next sailing season and the adventures it will bring.
Touches my core, the way you have played across the surface of seasons of the heart, wind on water, and hinting and drawing my curiosity to the depths of your loves – each of the men, and the waters. So very happy to have the chance to travel with you to places I will never otherwise go.
Ahh, Sara, even your comments are poetic – thank you!
I am so pleased and proud of you for launching this blog. Also being a person who ‘walks’ on water I understand the passion. Best wishes for success, I will kept watch here in your northern home until you return for another summer.
It took me a minute to recall how I know you, but it’s all coming back to me now. We met at Maple Bay of course — I’m the sister of Harold on the good ship Omoo, where we babysat Capi.
I wish you all the best and hail your decision to follow your nudges. As you probably know by now, if you don’t listen to those noisy guides, you feel miserable and start to turn mouldy.
Indeed, I’ve learned to listen to those voices. I hope my voice will speak to you along the way. Thanks for coming along!
Such a beautiful blog Deb! I love the design and your logo/banner. My heart leapt at the first sight of Sandy on the trail! Beautiful photo! I love the Quartz info as I too have discovered their healing power in recent years. I use them in my practice now and have had similar experiences as you with a Tibetan smokey Quartz….I actually had to put it down the energy was so intense that I thought my head was going to explode….I love seeing and learning about your experiences on the boat as I often wonder what you are doing and where you are while I’m taking care of Sandy. I look forward to reading more. Such fun! Blessings, Anne
Thank you, Anne.
After talking about this blog for a few months, it was wonderful to see it happen and get to read it. Your writing is lovely, Deb, colorful and personal and stimulating. I like the questions you ask, I like the connections you make, and your curiosity about the world and your place in it. Animals and rocks and water are all such great subjects to jump from. I look forward to reading where you jump next. Keep it going, my friend. Pat
Thank you, Pat, stay tuned!
HI Deb: Glad to hear KAGAN and you are doing well. It was wonderful to work with you during your transition to skipper of KAGAN. Next season if you are up near Campbell River, let us know. Love your stories here. Got here through a mutual friend on FB.
You talked me through that engine alarm going off my second time singlehanding! Not too many mechanics would be on-call with a client bobbing around in the middle of bay on a Saturday morning. I’ll never forget it. Thanks for that, and for coming along on this ride.
Great story Deb. Not being much of a writer myself, I can still relate to your feelings about the environment, the sea, and all that entails. Even though I belong to the (other side aka St___kpotter) as opposed to R___hanger) lol, we share the same feelings when on the water. See you in the Spring. Rocky says “Hi” to Capi… Luv Vic
Thanks, Vic! And for all you non-seafaring types – there’s a age-old “thing” between powerboaters (affectionately called Stinkpotters) and sailors (equally affectionately called Raghangers). But it’s true that we all love the sea!
Deb, I had no idea you were into sailing. Gwyne and I are now on our 6th boat, five of them sailboats. Mostly named Miller Time, the last Is Taboo. I will be following your writings! May the winds always be at you back and seas gently rolling!
Waaayyy good Deborah– have passed on your blog to Priscilla Stuckey, your neighbor who wrote Kissed by a Fox, and to four of my Placitas friends who are geologists… Keep up the good work! Michael Crofoot