Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Push Out of the Nest

In 1976, I turned 17 and started university.  I was working as a grocery store cashier and another girl I worked with, Laura, had decided to spend the summer of 1977 backpacking around Europe.   My first year at university was less than stellar.  I was young, bored, without direction and my marks reflected it.  I mentioned Laura's plan to my mom and my aunt Gloria (mom's sister), and they decided that I'd better go to Europe.  Gloria and Gail were and are travel-obsessed women who were raising their families on their own and saving their pennies for any kind of trips they could afford for themselves and for us.  I was less than enthusiastic about their plan for me and had all kinds of excuses about money and the enormity of such a trip.  They insisted and off I went with a person I hardly knew, very little money, and very wide eyes.  Laura and I spent 4 months making our way around Britain and the continent with everything we had in our backpacks.  We stayed in hostels, walked or took public transit, and woke up everyday with our only plan being to successfully get to the next place.  I turned 18 on a beach in Majorca.  There were no ATMs, cell phones, or computers for that matter and mom and Gloria only knew where we were, three weeks behind, from the postcards I sent home.  It was a test of survival as we found our way through 12 countries, meeting fascinating and generous people, and living on less than $10.00 a day.  I returned home a little older and wiser, and ready to get back into school so that I could get a job to continue to travel.

Mom and Gloria have continued to see as much of the world beyond home that they can.  When it looked like a cruise was going to be a better way for my stepfather (Jack) to travel, mom signed them up for the one around Cape Horn.  "It was beautiful but a bit foggy and cold," she explained.  No kidding.  They took an easier trip for the next one, to east Africa and the Indian Ocean.  In the meantime, Gloria and my cousin Linda were on their own trip to Antarctica.  

When Craig and I told mom and Gloria that we had bought a sailboat and planned to sail it over 7500 miles along the South American coast, they didn't even blink.  Mom was the only person to come with us to Buenos Aires to see our boat while it was under construction and figured out how she could join us as soon as possible once it was finished.  She and Jack are here now with us in Florida and hoping to spend some time on Alberta Crewed.  I was thrilled when Jack told us that he also wanted to get to the boat and after a long winter with medical appointments, made the gruelling flight to Florida.  As the sailing life goes, we are still in the boatyard (week 4), waiting for parts to arrive in order to get back into the water.  In the meantime, we are enjoying the Florida sunshine with mom and Jack and getting to know the Stuart area.  Craig and I are often asked how our families feel about our adventures so I've taken the opportunity to find out from mom.  Yesterday, she finally saw Alberta Crewed, albeit on land, and I wondered how she felt about our journey so far:

Laurie: What did you think when we told you we were going sailing?
Gail: I don't think I believed it.  It was such a world of the unknown that it didn't hit me that you were going to do it.  When you started taking sailing lessons then I knew you were serious.  It was only a reality when I saw the boat in Argentina.  It wasn't why are you doing that.  You had explained to me why and to be honest, I don't think you knew why you did it.  (Sometimes I still wonder.  Our mothers know us so well!)    

Laurie: Did you worry?
Gail: I was a little apprehensive with your safety and I didn't know what you were getting into because I didn't know anything about it.  Then I got excited.  It was a different world, an adventure.  Then when you went on your boat delivery, I never was a parent that hung around your neck, so I was excited for you.  But I worried when you started going north out of Argentina.  I felt better that your friends were with you.  I kept thinking, are they alright?  I didn't worry about pirates or anything.  It was just the unknown.  You could communicate so that helped.  It's the first time I think I've ever worried like that about you.  It was out of my hands.  I kept telling myself not to worry because it wasn't helping you.  

Laurie: What did you think when you got onto the boat?
Gail: It's big and roomy, roomier than I thought.  It's still an unknown world.  I look at the mast, all the rigging and lines, the navigation table, the helm and I feel kind of stupid. (I do too!) When I see it working it will help.  

Laurie: Have you ever wanted to sail?
Gail: I had never thought of it.  I saw people going by on their boats and thought, gee that looks nice, but I never ever thought I'd be part of it.  I loved watching our cruise ship docking and pulling away.  I remember our ship coming into Montevideo and the captain brought the ship in to a tight space and moved it sideways.  It was amazing.  I always watched because it was quite fascinating.

I will finish my conversation with mom once she is on Alberta Crewed but perhaps this may provide some insight into why we are Prairie born and raised, and living on a sailboat.  It's genetic.  
(When I told mom about the title of this entry, she asked, "For me or for you?")

We went to an MLB spring training baseball game but were rained out.  Craig and mom insisted on staying through the storm.

Mom and Jack at the Florida Oceanographic Center in Stuart.  

1 comment:

  1. What a nice 'treat " for you all . Hug Gail and Jack for me . Wish I was there, I spent part of my March Break sledding ( aka ski-doing). I actually get to drive one ! Miss ya