On a typical Thursday night I expressed some of my concern for leaving. We had just reinstalled our newly re-sealed injector pump and while there was a certain amount of rejoicing when the engine successfully ran for an more than ten minutes without dumping a gallon of diesel into our oil reservoir, our celebrations were somewhat subdued. Experience has taught us that too much revelry at small (and large) repairs only leads to a harder fall when the next thing breaks. That, and the fact that in 12 hours I was getting on a plane to leave for two weeks.
The lessons of the journey so far were so fresh I was afraid they would break under the load of an all-too familiar life: New York City. Would I be able to assimilate back to NYC? I knew the answer was yes. Could I return to the boat in two weeks time and pick up where I left off? Could I take this new shape, this new version of myself, and stay solid enough to not melt back into an old and familiar mold. Hornsby assured me that my trip away was part of the journey. It was what needed to happen. Everything that has happened has had a reason, and so to with this. I wouldn’t be picking up exactly where I left off, it would be 150 nm to the north west, but the Misty Moonlight crew would be reunited, despite thousands of days apart, to continue the Voyage.
That Friday started like any other. I woke up to the spinning wheels of my mind, “…must re-time the engine…is there’s enough play on those bolts on the injector pump?…I haven’t even packed yet!” Coffee in hand, I thought nothing about the inevitability of the next stage of my journey, of Our Voyage. Instead I focused my attention to the subtleties of that Volvo Penta MD6A and with the help and expertise of Blake, we got that honey singin’ again as Lady Hornsby called the local hotels trying to get me a shuttle to the airport.
Without a minute to spare, I loaded the last of my warm clothes into my duffel and called for our rowing captain, Sharkfoot, to take me to shore, thankful for the sunglasses to shield my watery eyes. A quick goodbye on the beach and I was hoofing it alone, heading up the beach towards a shuttle. After twenty minutes of running I still came up two minutes late and caught a cab instead for a price that was practically our weekly food budget. We whizzed along the coast and I saw from the land, in a matter of minutes, what my girls would see over the next few days. At the airport I ducked into the bathroom to change out of my board shorts and sandals into jeans and shoes, checked in, and sat down to eat a lunch that Hornsby and Sharkie had packed me, complete with a napkin note that almost got me misty all over again. Before I knew it I was in New York City, where the wind-chill dropped the temperature into the 20’s and you can’t see the stars for the lights. It was all too familiar.
But my soul and my spirit drifted in a perfect bell curve. I was still very much on the boat, lying awake at night in that fourth floor walk up and waiting for the boat to rock me to sleep. Mistaking the streetlights outside for the anchor lights of other boats. Telling anyone who would listen about life on Misty, and realizing I was coming up quite short when trying to put it to words. But I was in NYC for one reason: money, and after a day of getting my bearings again, a day when I felt all the shifts in wind as if I were at the helm, I was at work, unloading a semi and a 24’ truck’s worth of gear onto 40th street.
Mercedes Benz Fashion Week may be glamorous for some, but for the non-union stage technicians of New York City it is a grueling two weeks of work with the opportunity to rake in the overtime hours and stock up some cash. Dressed in black, bearing hand-staplers, matt-knives, and the ubiquitous knee-pads, our bleeding knuckles and drowsy drooping eyelids tell the story of the effort demanded of a crew tasked with doing three fashion shows a day in one venue. No longer the captain of the crew, and compared to the fatigue of sailing, it felt more like the long awaited vacation than work.
By the following weekend, amidst a 21-hour day, I couldn’t be farther from the boat. I couldn’t even conceive of it anymore. All I saw were scrim-covered panels, and painted carpet runways. I rode the subway in a daze with deli coffee in one hand and a bacon-egg-and-chedder sandwich in the other. As the week progressed the end came into view. Just get through Tommy Hilfiger (a 22’X90’ planked walnut runway!) and I’ll be on my way back to the boat. A few trips to the local West Marine, and out to Queens in an effort to replace the stainless steel used in the Epic Repair of 2010 and I could almost taste the salt air.
Sniffling and coughing, I flew back across the country to a reunion I had long awaited. Two wonderful friends jumped from behind a van and we embraced in the way I had envisioned, full of joy an excitement. Hopping into the rental car we made our way back to La Paz chatting about all our various adventures. Upon arrival at the boat we were together again, ready to continue the adventure.
Since the moment I left I’ve been trying to make sense of this part of the journey. If there is anything I have learned so far from the Voyage of the Misty Moonlight it is that the challenges, the abnormalities, are the spice of life. If I only see the most superficially positive moments, then I would have lost my mind many months ago. Nothing on this Journey has gone according to plan except that we threw the plan out the window a long time ago and replaced it with the whims of the wind. We have invested our faith in knowing that everything that happened, every little piece of the journey from moment to moment happened and continues to happen for a reason. You just have to have your eyes and heart open enough to find the meaning.
I can not speak for Las Capitanas, but I suspect that without The Captain, they gained some confidence in what we have all learned together. I know that had to learn to let go and found myself in the shoes of our friends and family—out of touch and constantly worried. As I sit here on the boat, the girls are in town running errands. I am nursing a cold and I admit I feel out of the loop. Having stepped out of this life and into an entirely different one, I feel like a foreigner, a bit of a stranger in my own home. But I put my faith again in the idea that everything happens for a reason, and even more so in the bonds of friendship that no trip to New York could ever break.
Voyage on Misty!