A Life On Hold…

wc-c-Another-view-of-Fort-de-France---Martinique

As I write this I am overwhelmed with a variety of emotions.  Sad, confused, a little down and even a wave of excitement is burning within my soul.  How can a single person feel all of these emotions at the same time?  When you have the opportunity to experience what most people only dream of, expect to be able to continue living that dream to the end, and then have to put that dream on hold to come back to the “real world”, like I am in the process of doing, many different feelings make their way to the surface.  The dream is still very much alive and the plan is to continue on in the future, we are just not sure what the immediate future holds in store for us.  If only I had a crystal ball…

Jon and I set off aboard Beausoleil from Key West in January of 2011 to live our dream of completing a circumnavigation.  We have always been open to the idea of ending up “who knows where” and for “who knows how long”.  We are so thankful to have spent the past year and a half cruising the Bahamas and the beautiful Caribbean islands, making friends with both the locals and many other cruisers along the way. We’ve experienced the different cultures, sights, creatures, and especially the cuisine.  We will cherish these memories and the friends we have made forever.

wc-c-BeausoleilThe plans to circumnavigate the globe began forming before we ever made it to Key West.  After several years of planning, selling almost everything we owned, and moving aboard Beausoleil in July of 2008, we set off from Marblehead, MA with a five to seven year plan.  Now, five years later, we found our five to seven year plan really needs to be more like a ten to fifteen year plan, or even longer depending on how much we like a place, the people, or the repairs and costs we run into along the way.

We will be taking a “sabbatical” from cruising to come back to the U.S. to work for a while.  I will also be taking a leave from writing the articles published here in Island Jane and FishMonster while we drastically change our lifestyle and become “land lubbers” once again.

Think of this past year and a half as a “shake down” cruise.  We definitely learned a lot about ourselves as a couple and as individuals (gaining a much closer, more loving relationship), living aboard at anchor (sometimes comfortably, sometimes rocking, rolling, and/or pitch polling), actively cruising, experiencing many different countries and cultures, and how to sail Beausoleil in all different types of weather and conditions.  We gained valuable experience in navigation, weather, anchoring techniques, safety, and boat maintenance (never underestimate the amount of maintenance a boat requires!).  I also had to learn a great deal of patience when it came to the quality, or lack thereof, of varnish on the teak in the hot Caribbean sun and salt water.

From the domestic side of cruising we learned how to be creative and deliver delicious meals aboard with the local products and produce; how to store fresh produce to make it last as long as possible; how to keep our clothes clean using the bucket laundry method; socializing, meeting other cruisers; and the art of relaxing (I am still working on this one).

To share a few lessons learned the hard way may include:

  • Always agree on a price, and which currency, before you get into a taxi
  • Deal with the logistics and customs procedures as soon as you enter a country (even if you haven’t slept in 48 hours),
  • Be firm and hold your ground if you don’t want a guide to help you find your way around the foreign town.

Believe me, all these will save you some hard earned cash.  I know I am missing many other lessons, skills and experiences from our cruising adventures – there are way too many things we have learned over the past five years to mention here.

wc-cToo-CloseOne very important lesson we did learn is that the world is made up of all different kinds of cruisers and you have to do what is right for yourself and your crew to make the cruising life work for you.  For the crew of Beausoleil, that means we need to feed the cruising kitty, which has a ferocious appetite, before we jump into the Pacific and continue our circumnavigation.  I believe during this time we will have the opportunity to gain experience in many life lessons such as patience, perseverance and focus, by keeping our eyes on our long term goals and getting back out there to live our dream once again.

I would like to thank you all, the readers, for the continued support and feedback on my articles, the staff at FishMonster and Island Jane, and my family and friends who have provided unconditional love and support throughout this journey.  I look forward to writing this column again, sharing our experiences and the world, as seen by Jon and Shawna aboard Beausoleil, with you again in the not too distant future.  Until then, I will continue to be “Island Jane” wherever I am.  I will look for activities that challenge me physically and mentally, I will go on loving life, living it to the fullest and seek out the beauty and goodness around me.  I will continue to strive to help encourage, influence and support others in obtaining their goals and dreams wherever this curve in the road of my life takes me.  Until we meet again…

 

I will continue to be “Island Jane” wherever I am.  I will look for activities that challenge me physically and mentally, I will go on loving life, living it to the fullest and seek out the beauty and goodness around me.  I will continue to strive to help encourage, influence and support others in obtaining their goals and dreams wherever this curve in the road of my life takes me.

Shawna, a former Key West resident lived aboard S/V Beausoleil, a 1979 Formosa 51 Ketch, with her husband Jon until December 2011 when they set sail to begin “living their dream” of circumnavigating the globe. She wrote to us each month with stories of their journey. She currently resides in North Carolina, awaiting the next adventure.