Tickin’, Tickin’, Into the Future

Time is something we have become very rich in, during this sailing life. Yet, it ticks forward, onward, never pausing just the same. Boy George sings, “time won’t give me time…” and no it does not. Here we are in 2022 and as Paul said during our New Year’s toast, “I’m still getting used to Y2K.” In terms of quantity, it’s all the same. We’re still confined to the finite human experience. More than quantity, it’s a quality of how we spend time that has seemed to have changed. Being aboard molts and melts time’s conventions. Being aboard s/v Rita Kathryn transforms time. Perhaps it’s the perspective you get when surrounded by vastness of ocean or on a clear night, gazillions of stars that dome around you, tiny beings floating.

Dear friend Timmy braved a downpour on his bicycle to get this shot as we sailed passed his neighborhood in Brooklyn, on our way south
Dear, kind friend Timmy braved a downpour on his bicycle to get this shot of the RK sailing past his neighborhood in Brooklyn on our way south. Thank you, friend. Others will see… a hundred years hence…the heights of Brooklyn…, will enjoy the sunset, the pouring in of the flood tide, the falling back of the sea of the ebb tide…it avails not, time nor space… (Whitman)
Our first stop after NYC was Norfolk, VA to get some projects done. Walking distance of the marina was a near empty beach for walking.
Cathy and Dave of s/v Ketch 22 made a surprise stopover while we were in VA, on their way south. Sea Sister Cath and I had a great 2 hour walk down the beach and to the end of this long fishing pier.
Impromptu tour of our dock neighbor John’s vessel
John giving us the grand tour of the custom work on his boat. We were in luck, the wood worker who did this amazing job was still in the marina and we needed a tiny but specialized job done.
It’s a temporary fix, but should last until we get to Antigua to have it replaced. There’s a guy there known for making better than original quality replacements.
Took a train up to Maryland and was able to spend a week with Soul Sister Sarah. It was an extra-long playdate. It’s the reach of my arms, span of my hips, stride of my step… flash of my teeth… joy in my feet...phenomenal woman (Angelou).

Certainly, this lifestyle allows for greater amounts of play and adventure. Most notably there’s quite a bit of spontaneity involved. Serendipity becomes a part of life. Though we need to be meticulous about weather and timing of our passaging plans and staying on top of the boat’s integrity from bow to stern, fortuitous opportunities present themselves often. Previously, enjoyment was scheduled, often meticulously. You could either design a life to bring surprise or choose a lifestyle where it’s more intrinsic. “When we encounter joy we didn’t expect to receive, it feels a bit like luck or grace, as if a benevolent universe is looking out for us” (I.F. Lee). Who couldn’t use a little more grace?

Lucky to land in Brunswick, GA for Porchfest. Historical homes donate their porches to bands and performers for a day of food and festivities. (Our Dahon folding bikes are the bomb.)
Aye matey, is that a gnome I see? Of course it is, he’s here to bring good cheer to the Porchfest and eat tacos.
The theme this year was Mardi Gras and Capt. Paul donned his beads while enjoying a Jefecito’s Rolling Tacos Food Truck picnic on the lawn.
The Golden Isles Strummers played a lovely rendition of Hey Soul Sister. This was Ivan’s house. He was running for mayor, so I saw his name a lot. That’s why I remember it. Plus, he was very gracious in letting us leave our bikes on his porch when we got a flat but weren’t ready to go home.
Our buddy Pete singing up some tunes. We went to enjoy and cheer him on. The lady in the foreground w/ the pink hat is his proud mamma, Mary.
The Lovely Lady (that’s what we’ll call her since she was not running for mayor so I didn’t see her name on billboards all over town) who donated the porch Pete played on. A delightful home right in front of a park with piles of rose bushes that were curated based on their historical accuracy, she told us.

Sailing, time is demarcated strongly by the sunrise and set, the phases of the moon, and seasons. Seasons tell you where you need to be to try and avoid the most severe weather events and we are beholden to these time frames. Though we do not use celestial navigation, but rather technology and charts, a full moon can dramatically affect our visibility when night sailing, as does the lack of one. The moon’s phases also effect the extremes of tide shifts. We’re much more in touch with circadian rhythms often stopping to watch daily the sunrise and sunset on an ocean horizon or water filled bay. There is a degree of surrendering or rather falling into symbiosis with time, instead of stretching or bending it to our will. As if that were possible. But what is time? We’re all familiar with it, these cycles, the passing of it. We have calendars and clocks and reminders to measure it, that require us to make note of the concept of it passing by. We can’t touch time but in this setting its cadence is unmistakable and becomes experiential rather than an external factor that needs reigning in. It’s an experiential living style with unquantifiable returns.

We got picked up for a spontaneous weekend to the Outer Banks by our friends Walter and Linda. They drove 3 hours round trip to VA to get us.
This was October but barefoot beach walks were still possible in OBX. Gold sun rays ignite a new day... (Pickard).

There are not just novels written about time, but songs sung, poems recited, melting clock portraits painted, philosophers’ reasonings pontificated. How is time actually explained without falling into bottomless explanations or the theory of relativity or the Big Bang, physics or thermodynamics? How is it different now that we live on a sailboat? When considering the philosophers and scientists who say it’s infinite and its constraints man-made perhaps it’s about how we’ve changed our relationship to time aboard.

Got to spend some quality time helping Daniel move into his new place. Notice pile of boxes. There was a bit of work to be done.
Jacksonville, FL beaches provided very long and peaceful walks with nice shelling and cool pink jellyfish. Did you know jellies predate dinosaurs?
Blake and Daniel enjoyed visiting us at this little gem. Heated pool and perfect sunset extra perks for the weekend.
The four of us enjoyed this little (not at all) place for some driving practice. Blake left us all in the dust and was the top scorer at Topgolf that day.

The concept of time is a muse for so many and for good reason. Metaphor does well in trying to explain time. I think my favorite might be that time is a flowering river, maybe because it references two favorites: water and flowers. Time doesn’t move in one direction when regarding the greatest of its scales, though that’s how we may experience it without deeper observation. The idea of event space renders the belief that you can’t make a mistake, only a choice, very gratifying. It’s believed since linear time does not exist and there are parallel universes of ourselves, we’re just course correcting with the choices we make. So simply do what you enjoy with the least amount of harm and don’t agonize over decision making.

Blossoms in December. I love the south. This one particular street we ride our bikes on had so many blossoms of something, not sure what, that there was a sweet smell in the air for days. I think this little beauty is called a thunbergia laurifolia. She wore flowers in her hair and carried magic secrets in her eyes (Roy).
Very fond of this sweet blossom because it manages to have three favorite colors in one bloom: yellow, orange and pink. Don’t be ashamed to weep; ’tis right to grieve. Tears are only water and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water… (Jacques).
The century plant takes years to bloom, though not 100, a lot. I guess when you’re this big and prickly you bloom whenever the heck you want.

While passaging and polishing, I get to catch up on podcasts. Many hours of passaging I surrender to the rhythm of the rolling waters and prefer no other stimuli. That’s when briefly Einstein’s belief in a space-time continuum, that space and time are interwoven and not really separate, makes sense. Very, very briefly. It’s more of a visceral understanding than one I can articulate, when enveloped in the grandeur and serenity of ocean sailing. Then my inner NYker gets the best of me and whispers now is a great time to catch up on those 473.5 podcasts you’ve downloaded.

Coastal Georgia and much of the south had rice plantations. Now state park land, you can still see the forms of rice paddy fields.
A local birder/photographer friend Brenda, takes me to sweet spots I would have never otherwise visited.
Serene little spot where we sighted some waterfowl.
Even though a harmless garter snake, this was as close as I was going to get.
This snowy egret likes fishing off our neighbor’s power line. Once hunted for their pretty plumes, these birds are now protected. Feather fall and show us all how weightless life can be... (McLaughlin)

Polishing fiberglass or stainless is definitely enhanced by the ability to listen to hours of podcasts I would never otherwise have listened to, but there is not enough time in a life to listen to them all. I find myself returning to old favorites that usually don’t disappoint and are the richest; the biggest reward for the time taken to listen. Just like there’s not enough time to cook all the meals I’d like to eat, read all the books I’d like to read, see all the movies I’d like to see, visit all the places I’d like to experience, learn all the languages I’d like to speak. Choices need to be made in our limited human experience. Having a 360 degree water view is a perk too. There’s tons of bird activity, a few weeks ago owls came to the marina. And just the other morning I saw a mink. The osprey hunting and seagulls diving around the boat are enchanting and draw me into awe. Polishing becomes so much more.

This park in Florida was filled with very large alligators sunning themselves. Daniel got a good video, I just held onto his arm ready to run.
I’m always tempted to contact Paul Stamets to identify the cool mushrooms I spot on hikes. It’s thanks to him I even notice them. Reading his research on mycelium is fascinating. Overstory is a must read about the power of trees that’s up and coming on my book list.
So why exactly are we crossing this bridge to get closer to the alligator that we saw quite clearly at a safe distance from the other side?
Too close for my inner city girl’s comfort.

We’ve met all walks of life choosing this lifestyle. Many persist by any means necessary. For those, it’s a choice of how to exist during this earthly time we’re graciously given. In sum, the sailing life is a choice many could make if that is what they truly wanted to do with their time. We have met families who sold everything to sail around the world and raise their kids in this way. Selling cars, home, all possessions, to live on a budget that falls around the poverty line for a family of 5. Think of not having car payments, insurance payments, mortgage payments. There are those that stop and work along the way of their cruising. Some will charter out and be the captain/cook for guests. There are also those who have made a business out of their lifestyle. A very successful one. You can see exactly how successful since earnings from Patreon are a matter of public information. Mind you, Patreon’s often only one stream of income as well.

Lots of time is spent on little projects, improving, upgrading, replacing, polishing. A boat is subjected to harsh UV rays and saltwater 24/7. Improving insulation on one of our fridges has been transformative.
Paul has learned a lot about electronics and wiring and he’s very generous with his knowledge as most sailors, particularly Amelians, are. We’re taking this picture for a fellow Amel owner.
We took this picture for someone helping us with a bow thruster issue. It’s the circuit board for the motor. Can’t you tell?
And when you’re not fixing things on your own boat, you go to other Amels to see what they’re doing so you can learn. Bill of s/v Harmonie is very generous with his time and knowledge. Honestly, I don’t think this is his and Karen’s boat, but yet another Amel.

I recently listened to a trustily thought-provoking podcast called Making Sense hosted by Sam Harris. In this episode, Sam was interviewing Oliver Burkeman who wrote a book about humans’ fruitless attempts to command time and be more efficient, Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals. The most significant take away for me was that we simply can’t do it all. Trying to make ourselves more efficient is ineffective in achieving an end goal of being able to spend more time on things that we may enjoy or value the most. In fact, the more efficient you are, it is argued, the more work you will find yourself doing. Meanwhile, the original intention was to try and lessen the load. So essentially there are choices we have to make about what and how we want to do things and it boils down to the quality of time we might want to spend on this earth, as fleeting as it is. We are simply too busy to pay attention to life if we allow ourselves to be. Perhaps it’s the gift of contemplation we’re given in this sailing life. The gift of being able to pay closer attention.

In another Brenda adventure we came upon not just birds but a delightful little fairy village.
It wouldn’t be a fairy village without a toadstool nearby, now would it.
I got to geek out on shelling books with Karen of s/v Harmonie and guess what Santa got me for Christmas? Taking up new hobbies or bringing old ones to a new level has been a delight.

“You are here for but an instant, and you mustn’t take yourself too seriously” (E.R. Burroughs). I agree with Burroughs, life is way too short and intense to not have a sense of humor. It’s thanks to Paul’s eternal optimism and sharp wit, laughing comes daily. There’s always a time to laugh with Paul. He makes me a better person with his levity and readiness to giggle when I let myself get caught up in a grinding state of mind. He brings me back to my heart. The now, this blessing. To observe time, as is, rather than being lost in the anxiety and anticipation of the future or the regrets and ruminations of the past. Joy becomes our footing. A daily practice. Paul reminds me the waves, they come and go, but we’re still part of the great and unspeakably beautiful ocean.

Sat in a 5-mile backup for the well-worth-the-wait Jekyll Island Million Lights display with our friends Tim and Tawnya of m/v Knott Quitters.
I believe in angels, the kind that heaven sends, I am surrounded by angels but I call them friends (Wilson).
A Gilded Age vacation spot decorated, and at least half of the million lights on the island were here.
How many lords are leaping? Yes, they had a display for each of the Twelve Days of Christmas.
What’s prettier than a Live Oak dripping with Spanish Moss swaying in a whispering breeze? A Live Oak with Spanish Moss covered in fairy lights, of course.

Sailing life has reconfigured time and how we spend it by changing the frame of this human existence and consequently seems to keep our perspectives more forgiving, patient and open-hearted. Our relationship to time in this sailing life is more like an Alice in Wonderland sort of experience, “Either the well was very deep or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her and wonder what was going to happen next” (L. Carroll). It’s there, slipping by just the same, but there’s an added dimension that provides us time to wonder, taste, see, feel, laugh and simply live by living simply in the moment. Living in the moment is a gift, called the “present” for a reason, many will say. My favorite pop culture figure, Ted Lasso, (a subscription to Apple TV is worth every penny just to stream this heart-twinkling comedy) makes this observation coaching his players to optimize not just their performance, but their ability to be the best humans they can possibly be. Neither lofty nor pollyannish but a humbly honorable goal. Like the Byrds sang, “a time to every purpose under heaven” and what better way to spend your time than becoming a good human being. Living each moment with a deeper observation does offer a perspective of the power of now which opens the heart, quiets the mind and warms the soul. It makes room for gratitude and awareness.

Time to replace the RK’s decal on the stern. I know the Ritas and Kathryn would approve.
A patient Capt. Paul was confident enough, after watching others do it the first time (4.5 years ago) and reinforced by a few YouTube videos, to do it himself. I just said, “a little this way, a little that way…” to be helpful of course.
You can live somewhere all your life and not know your neighbors. On a dock, you become fast-friends and help each other with chores, brainstorm projects and often share food, drink and laughs. The people who give you their food, give you their heart (Chavez).

Planning Paul’s recent birthday celebration was a lesson in time and a reminder of my previous antagonistic relationship with it. Naturally, it’s the observation of time passing, as any birthday gives us pause. But it’s also the time spent planning and arranging to make this particular (big one), special for the man I love. Then, there’s the time you’re requesting of others to help make this celebration uniquely special, dependent on their taking the time to give their contributions. The process reminded me of deadlines and time constraints I no longer have, and simply don’t feel so terribly pressing on a daily basis, any longer. It’s dramatically different. The absence of constraints made by a bell; even if made for good reason, these imposed constraints, were not so easily lived by my inner free spirit. “This above all: to thine own self be true…” (Shakespeare). Perhaps it’s the ability to live more authentically.

Present on every continent on earth, barrier islands move, erode and grow. Like a duet of death and rebirth. Everything is beautiful and I am so sad. This is how the heart makes a duet of wonder and grief… the breeze makes the birds move from branch to branch as this ache makes me look for those I’ve lost in the next room, in the next song, in the laugh of the next stranger (M. Nepo)
He looks very serious here, but perhaps Capt. Paul wants his phone back since I just nicked it to take some shots. I often wonder if I had written down every one of his quips over the past 16 years what a quality collection of stand-up comedy material it’d be.

“Father Time is not always a hard parent, and, though he tarries for none of his children, often lays his hand lightly upon those who have used him well; making them old men and women inexorably enough, but leaving their hearts and spirits young and in full vigor. With such people the grey head is but the impression of the old fellow’s hand in giving them his blessing, and every wrinkle but a notch in the quiet calendar of a well-spent life” (Charles Dickens). Life aboard does present challenges of the mind body and soul not otherwise encountered. In stoic philosophy challenge is how you learn what it is you’re capable of. Living a life that doesn’t cause some level of disturbance allows for little “spontaneous joy, enthusiasm, and excitement” for life (M.A. Singer). Paul and I might have extra “notches” but we hope to come to the end of a life well-spent with plenty of notches, bumps and bruises from living it. Life is fragile. We have control over nothing but our own reactions to its vicissitudes.

I’ve fallen in love with coastal marshlands. The wildlife is extraordinarily beautiful. It was a perk being familiar with the landscape when I read Where the Crawdads Sing. A must read, FYI.
Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island gives a feeling of otherworldliness.
Beaches ~ where the earth meets the great sea and we can contemplate both realms and our time spent. Love tells me I am everything, wisdom tells me I am nothing, between the two my life flows (Maharaj).

Daniel Defoe writes in Robinson Crusoe that, “Today we love what tomorrow we hate, today we seek what tomorrow we shun, today we desire what tomorrow we fear.” Though I believe we love/hate, seek/shun, desire/fear most everything in life to some degree simultaneously, living more closely to the present moment and not clinging to the future or the past, we find the equilibrium we need. Time becomes more of a friend. If our earthly time were to end tomorrow we’d have few regrets about how we’ve chosen to spend it and hope that we inspire, at least our children, to live closer to their hearts’ desires when relating to this thing called time.

If you live to be a hundred I’d like to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you (A. A. Milne). Happy 2022!

12 responses to “Tickin’, Tickin’, Into the Future”

  1. Just caught-up on your postings with Rose (although we are a few months behind.) Love the stories and photos; hope to see you soon! I would like to see more photos of me in your future posts.

    • I think photos of you both in future posts is just waiting for us to get to an awesome place for you both to visit. Anna Marie and I are both looking forward to it. Much love to the both of you!

  2. Hey Paul,

    I often check this website to follow you and Anne Marie’s adventures.

    You are truly living the dream

    Be Well

    • Thanks for keeping an eye on us Anthony. It is a heck of a lot of work to maintain the boat and dealing with land issues from afar is a royal pain in the neck, but the benefits of this lifestyle are just too numerous to mention. We are both truly blessed. It’s too bad we weren’t able to get together a couple summers back. Hopefully we will have another chance sooner rather than later. Stay safe, stay well and stay in touch.

  3. I’m so glad we got to spend a day together doing nature and birding. Life is an adventure. I’m always happy to make new friends and spending time showing them around our beautiful Golden Isles. I hope you reach out the next time you return. Be safe on your future adventures.

  4. We are all here on a one way ticket so happy you are both getting your money’s worth. Happy 2022 beautiful insights and pictures! Hugs to both of you 🥰

    • Thank you so much Joanne. You are our biggest fan and we feel the love and send it right back to you. Hugs and kisses to the whole gang.

  5. What a beautiful read for the new year! I am inspired by YOU and your beautiful observations, musings and quotes! Your outward journey is also a profound inward one. thank you for sharing sister! xoxo

    • Thank you dear sister for your love and support. We’v been to the mountains, the suburbs and city… will you now come to the sea?

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