Everything has a beginning and an end and I was going to find one of the gazillion pithy quotes that states this simple fact.
Instead I’ll talk about the sentiment behind it because the end of a big part of my life begins tomorrow when we travel to Washington to put our boat up for sale.
The boat was my enemy and my friend. It raised fears greater than I’d ever experienced, while at the same time teaching me that I am fearless. It frustrated me to the point of anger, while calming me each morning as I looked out over a golden sunrise.
My experiences on Sea Bear soothed as often as they frightened, and I will feel the loss as I carefully remove clothes, linens, kitchen items, treasured books, and the lifejackets we always wore underway. We’ll leave a few tools, engine supplies, and cruising guides on board. We won’t need them again. Our life is land-based now and our cruises are memories.
After the first long cruise on this boat in 2014—four months in the Pacific Northwest—Sea Bear became part of my family. I didn’t always like it, but I trusted the boat to get me where I needed to go safely. And for me that was huge. I was a white-knuckle cruising spouse from day one, one who doubted, who hated wind and choppy seas, who prayed constantly that we would get from one port to the next. The eight-month, five-thousand-mile Great Loop cruise helped, but I still had qualms.
Capt. Mark, my patient spouse, never laughed, but he probably wanted to. He knew the boat was incredibly seaworthy and he even began chanting a mantra to make me feel better. “This boat is built like a tank.” To his credit, it was the right thing to say because I heard the same phrase used by countless others who came to look at our little 32-foot Nordic Tug in ports all over the country.
I repeated the phrase in my mind whenever I went below to the salon to hang on to the dinette so it wouldn’t fall over in a heavy chop. My spouse loved the pitch and roll because he could use all his skill in getting us to our next inlet or marina. But he knew I didn’t and unless I was needed to search for buoys or day marks, he would send me below because the motion was calmer.
Sea Bear is out of the water now, sitting proudly in dry dock, waiting for us. It doesn’t know it will have new owners soon. I hope they will treat it well, making little improvements, just as we did. The bookcase, hand-made by my brother-in-law, the screens for open doorways to keep air circulating on warm nights—these were our additions. Upper deck rails were put in so Capt. Mark could go up and watch sunsets, oblivious to the mosquitoes and no-see-ums that kept me inside. Weaver davits, securing the dinghy to the swim step, were installed for me so I could climb in and out securely.
At the end, I came to love the boat, so it will be with mixed feelings that I climb up and began handing down items to be packed and sent home, or donated to a charitable thrift store. It’s likely to be raining, so my mind won’t be on nostalgia. It will be on getting the job done.
But I might cry.
I’ll let you know.