I was well in to my first surfing lesson with Conor as my instructor. I had flashbacks of being a little kid learning how to ride my bike at Bellvue Elementary School again. Conor would hold the surfboard to steady me and when the right wave would come he would give me a big push and yell, “Stand up! Stand up!” Well, I felt like I was a little kid until my husband brought me back to reality. “You are learning pretty well for someone just learning how to surf… in their 30s.”
Oh yeah, that’s right. I am in my 30’s. What am I doing on a surfboard?! Whatever. I chalk it up alongside our silly cruising adventure to midlife crisis prevention.
So I finally catch my first wave of the day conveniently just as a group of 10 tourists are walking by on the beach. And they clap for me! Oh my gosh! I immediately think they are the nicest people on earth. Or really drunk. I’m not sure which but I don’t mind either way. This new surfer girl in her 30s will take all the encouragement she can get.
We finally finished our lesson and Conor paddled the board back to the boat and I walked. I came across these incredible nice/drunk people and they were asking how to get back to their hotel without having to walk. They had walked quite a ways down the beach and were looking for an easier way back. One man had no shoes. I offer them the bus routes to get back. But these people were hotel people. Hotel people don’t take buses in foreign countries. Only weird hobo boat people like me do that.
So I offer to walk them to the marina office where they can call for a cab.
“So where are you staying?” Asks the shoeless man.
“Here in the marina.”
“They have a hotel here?”
“No. I’m staying on a sailboat. My husband and I left San Francisco in mid-October and sailed down here.”
Mouth agape. Oh… this conversation with the shoeless man is going to be fun, I think.
“You sailed? That’s pretty far. You stop at night, right?”
“No. We sail at night. Sometimes there isn’t a place to stop at night.” I answer.
“Oh. Are you ever scared?”
“One night I was scared, but nothing ended up happening that night. When we did hit high wind and seas I wasn’t scared. It’s not bad.”
“How long are you going to be gone?”
“Well we quit our jobs, so until the money runs out”
“So, another month?”
“Maybe until the end of the year.”
Mouth agape again. Gosh, I forgot how crazy our plans sound to a landlubber!
“Do you have property?”
“No, we don’t have kids or a mortgage yet which is we decided to go now.”
“Yeah. Once you have responsibilities you can’t do something like this.”
“Some people who do this are our age. Most are retired. A handful do it with kids on board. I know of a family of 4 who cruises on $1400 a month.”
Now this man with no shoes literally stops walking to stare at me with a look of shock.
The conversation breaks up as we are nearing the marine office. His wife asks about me and he says, “You wouldn’t believe it if I told you.” I could tell he couldn’t quite wrap his head around the whole idea as he paused for quite some time before continuing. “She left San Francisco in mid-October with her husband and sailed down here and she is going to continue until the end of the year. And then they will go back and start their careers all over again.”
I understand that this makes me instantly both intriguing and strange to the group.
His wife asks her husband, “Why don’t you do something like that?!”
“Take a couple showers under a bag of water and we’ll see how long you last!” Mr. Shoeless chirps back. I had filled him in on our solar showers we take in the cockpit when at anchorage.
They ask where I’m headed next, we wish each other a safe trip and go our separate ways. Them to catch a cab to their luxurious hotels, then back to their “normal” lives and “normal” careers. Me to my boat. AS soon as I arrive Conor paddles up. He gets the surfboard out of the water and then we decide to try out the inflatable kayak. I’m so thankful that this is the type of “normal” life I’ve chosen to live right now.
Article published in May Latitudes & Attitudes. http://www.seafaring.com/