Cruising Interrupted. In the Time of Your Life, Live.
We were sheltering in Prevost Harbor, wind gusts all around us.
As I did my last round before going to sleep, snow started falling, and in the 45 knots gusts we were having I thought we should have escaped South a little faster. At least we were safe here, weathering the first blizzard of the season.
At 03:00 in the morning my phone rang. I have setup my phone to ring at night only if certain serious conditions are met, so I picked up on the second ring. It was a distant friend, a neighbor of my parents telling me my father had passed away.
Aged 91 he died in his sleep in his home after a full life, a fate we all wish for ourselves and those we love.
Di and I started to immediately make plans for me to travel to France and sort out the many things I'd have to arrange. First would be to place my mother in a home where she would be well taken care of.
The immediate question was finding a marina where Di and Princess could stay on the boat while I spent the necessary time in France. We needed a marina that would accept us as long term live-aboard, or more accurately long term cruisers on a long delay. Di needed access to mechanics, shops, Doctors and more.
So our first call was to Nordhavn in Anacortes, and I must thank Julie profusely again for her immediate help: Within 1 hour of my initial call she called back having arranged a 3 months max stay at Cape Sante in Anacortes. The only snag was that the marina was currently full and would only have an open dock in 4 days. Considering all the other things I had to arrange and seeing the continuing bad weather outside, I decided we'd let the storm pass and start heading down as soon as it had.
We got to Anacortes at end of morning, added diesel to Enfin so Di could use the diesel furnace if needed in my absence, and after completing some paperwork I found my way to France via Seattle.
In the plane, and ever since, I got to reflect on life, the meaning of it, the universe and everything. We all know the answer is 42 of course, so I shan't bore you with more details. I will say that what gave life an important meaning to at least 3 generations in this family is a love for the sea, the universe, and all things related to it.
My Grand Dad probably started the folly, and amongst many other exploits held speed records with his own built speed boat. As one would he bought a shipyard to fully embrace his passion.
Dad followed in calmer wakes, preferring sailing to the thunder of souped up engines, and in the process gave me the sailing bug.
I spent most of my summers in the South of France on the family sailboat, escaping on small sailing dinghies as early as 6 years old. Pushed by my Dad, I won my first race aged 8, until aged 16 I finally purchased my own small cabin sailboat and the world became mine to navigate.
Not many parents would allow their 16 year old to disappear around the Med on their own sailboat. A trusting sailor, my Dad never doubted my abilities and let me explore life on my boat, making my own mistakes along the way. As a result I got recruited by the top sailing teams of the region and ended up severely bit by the racing bug. Dad followed my progression on the racing circuit, winning many races. He was very happy when I chose to make sailing my profession and joined the prestigious French Merchant Navy School, by somehow doing very well at its notoriously difficult exam.
I still remember vividly when, not even 17 years old, on a wild gusty Mistral day my Dad asked that I skipper his boat, placing his trust in me. If I said we could round Cap Sicie, our local Horn, then we'd go. We did and it became a family memory.
So, with this forever memory in mind, I'll close this chapter of my life with a simple thank you to my Dad. He would have hated any thanks, so I'll keep them mostly quiet.
I will continue the passion that took 3 generations to the sea, and most importantly will continue to live. While here in France, my Doctor confirmed my full remission. I am still not out of the woods: No cancer survivor ever truly is, but month by month I am getting on the better side of the statistics.
I have been lucky to find a very nice, modern and welcoming home for my Mum in Marseille, with incredibly nice and dedicated staff to take care of her. There again, my Dad in the background had quietly arranged a few things to make sure she'll be fine.
I will return to Enfin, Di and Princess soon. More importantly I will return to our own life, with an even bigger appreciation for it.
Recently I joined a medical study to check for PTSD-like sequels of my harsh chemo and stem cell transplant: I am happy to report that so far I am showing absolutely no ill effects, and I attribute it in equal parts to Di, Princess and Enfin on one hand, and my upbringing as an independent sailor on the other.
The study includes a phone app, because everything does nowadays, and it displays a daily quote. So far, none have been all that inspiring but yesterday I had a gem, a quote I will treasure and live my life by, like 2 generations before me already have:
"In the time of your life, live."
The actual quote is much longer, but its essence is well captured here.
It has already become Enfin's leitmotiv.