Reading Time: 4 minutes

Heading Level 4

If you tried to send me a Linkedin request over the past dozen years or so, chances are I didn’t see it. Apologies if you think I was ignoring you. Please don’t take it personally. I was ignoring Linkedin.

Linkedin

A few months ago, I updated my Linkedin profile. I had originally set up my profile over a dozen years ago and wrote nothing on it. Current employer and title – that’s it. Andrew equates it to the equivalent of tumbleweeds. In large part, this was because I was happy where I was and didn’t need to be bothered with having recruiters solicit me. 

So while I was doing my rounds at the office saying my goodbyes, I decided to use Linkedin as a communication tool for the rest of my business contacts outside of Warner Bros. to let them know I had retired.

When it comes to Linkedin, my approach is to only accept connections with people I have worked with or went to school with. Basically, anyone I can readily vouch for in terms of abilities and competencies in a professional setting. Others seem to treat it as yet another social media platform to collect as many connections as they can.

I will probably go the other direction and cull individuals that I am really no longer in touch with, but I get ahead of myself.  

Adios

Over a weekend, I started to backfill content on my profile. I put all the impressive accomplishments from my resume on there and then (after a moment of reflection) got rid of all of it. I just put the names of the companies and the years of employment. I was done marketing my skills. I didn’t need a website profile to showcase abilities for a life I no longer want to pursue.

Linkedin also provides a feature where you can write articles. I was on a writing kick for serenadewind.com so I decided why not write a short blurb on my retirement. It was then that an article was going around Linkedin that drew my attention.

David Brook’s 5 minute TED Talks video Should you live for your resume…or your eulogy? The timing of this was uncanny. If you have 5 minutes to spare, it is well worth seeing. In this video, Mr. Brooks refers to a book written in 1965 by Joseph Soloveitchik called “The Lonely Man of Faith.”

Taking stock of life

This personal exercise came in handy for me to give some guidance to my mom who seems to have come untethered in recent months. I elaborated on this in a few blog posts and suffice it to say she is still in the midst of figuring this stuff out. I must admit that it is probably a harder thing to do after having a lifetime of habits and beliefs that spans 70+ years as opposed to 40+ years. 

Andrew and I married and moved in together a couple months before my father passed away. I wanted to live closer to my mom in the event that she needed any help. Within the first 6 months after the funeral, she completed the following:

  • sold a rental property,
  • bought a 2-bedroom condo with the proceeds,
  • downsized from a 4 bedroom, 3-car garage house,
  • did renovations on the 2-bedroom condo,
  • moved in, and
  • found a tenant to lease out her old place

So while Andrew and I lived close by, my mom didn’t really lean on us. Ironically, she is doing so now.

Why, after 5 years, is this happening? 

Second Mountain

Thankfully I had done my own work sorting out what I was planning to do with the rest of my life. I had a little head start in helping her redirect and not fall apart. I keep reminding her who she is and that what she is experiencing now is momentary. It is not permanent. 

She asks me for quick fixes. She prays incessantly, but has little faith. I take her through the various stages I went through and chronicled here on serenadewind, such as:

While many of you may have gone through this with your parents, this is new to me … this feeling of the student becoming the teacher. I am showing her the way to figure out what is her second mountain and how to live for her eulogy. 

In the words of Reinhold Niebuhr:

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope

Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith

Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love

No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.

 

Reading Time: 5 minutes

RJ Slocum History

In December 2019, Andrew first came across s/v Rachel J Slocum and we poured through the extensive write-up of her features as well as the history of her design and construction. We took in every pixel of each photo and every detail provided in a recent marine survey. Furthermore, we researched brand names and terms unfamiliar to us. Basically, we binged on everything we possibly could about her and her owner as part of our due diligence. 

Over the ensuing weeks, we came across a lot of information. So for those of you who are fascinated by history as we are, here are the various links we uncovered.  

Photo courtesy of Tanton Yacht Designs

Yves-Marie Tanton

In 1984, Bill commissioned Yves-Marie Tanton to design s/v Rachel J Slocum (formerly Whisperer). When we came across the Tanton Yacht Design blog, we found one of the designs.

We also read a recent article entitled, Sea anchor, heaving-to and drogue aboard Rachel Slocum , which details a riveting letter Bill wrote describing his tribulations of deploying a sea anchor. After reading this account, we understood Bill’s admonition to us in a recent letter when we asked for some specific help in learning storm sailing techniques, in particular the deployment of a Galerider drogue and discussion of Para-Tech sea anchor. 

I have a different type drogue than a Galerider. And please, NEVER, EVER use a Para-Tech sea anchor, or ANY sea anchor, with this boat under any circumstances!!!! Sea anchors should ONLY be used on multihulls that can elevate their rudders.

NO sea anchor, understood!

 

Bill Pinney

Early on, we had a good feeling about Bill based on our emails and phone conversations. All of that solidified when we met him and his wife in person in Florida. He shared with us a book that he authored, Chappaquidick Speaks , in which the writing peppers interesting anecdotes and connections Bill and his family have to Chappaquiddick, Edgartown and incidents that took place in the book regarding Ted Kennedy and the Chappaquiddick incident of 1969.

While his bio reads impressively…

He attended Columbia University in New York, graduating with a degree in philosophy in 1968. He was Editor/Publisher of The Andean Times, the English-language newspaper of Colombia, South America; Editor/Publisher of This is Ontario magazine in Canada; and a South American investigative reporter for The Sunday Times of London. His consuming interest is medieval history, with several books in the works since 1995.

… the character of the man is evident in his actions, his roots and his lifelong friendships that he has opened up to us. 

The Pinney Family

When we first read the specs on the boat, there was a brief write-up about her owner, which reads as follows:

Rachel J. Slocum took 1 year to design and 3½ years to build with private US and British inspectors, and with the present owner, on site every step of the way. She is ABS certified (ABS Certificate No. KS 6055X).

The owner, who grew up on sailing yachts and whose father owned Concordia Boat Yard and Marshall Marine in Padanaram, Massachusetts, took care to incorporate every good idea learned after nine continuous years cruising around the world in a different yacht.

She has been continuously refit and upgraded since launch, with no consideration to cost. Everything works. 

Without knowing he had done so, Bill had left a trail of breadcrumbs about his past and everything we learned about him and his family engendered a positive feeling about buying this particular boat. It’s especially tricky when you are considering a private sale with a complete stranger, but given his roots are so deeply and widely entrenched in these places, all concerns melted away.  

 

Culture of Character

Granted this brief video about his father’s company may not have a direct correlation on the character of Bill Pinney, but it certainly evokes a feeling of connectedness, tradition and reputation, something that seems lost these days of social media, job-hopping, and transient pre-occupation in this current generation.

For more information on the culture of character, refer to our previous post on Selectively Social

So when you begin to peel back the layers about the Pinney family, there is a rich tradition of ethics that can be lauded, as evidenced by the life of his father. As you may recall, we discovered his father’s participation in the famous longitudinal study on aging by Harvard University and the fascinating findings it revealed. We also discovered the family’s connection to St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean when we were developing our sail plans for this year. 

We will leave the rest of the storytelling to Bill, who is researching his family’s roots, which traces back to the 1200’s.  

Slocum History

Back in March , we had a chance to see RJ Slocum and meet Bill. On the final day of our visit and we were winding down our discussion, one lingering question remained: 

Why did you name the vessel Rachel J. Slocum?

Upon hearing our question, Bill had a twinkle in his eye, and he began to describe the story. We learned that, on his mother’s side of the family, he is descended from the very same Slocum’s as Joshua Slocum, famous for being the first person to circumnavigate the globe single-handed.

On April 24, 1895, at the age of 51, he departed Boston in his tiny sloop Spray and sailed around the world single-handed, a passage of 46,000 miles, returning to Newport, Rhode Island on June 27, 1898. This historic achievement made him the patron saint of small-boat voyagers, navigators and adventurers all over the world.

Captain Slocum chronicled his journey, which was later published in a book: “Sailing Alone Around the World”.

The following video by Bennett Marine provides a brief chronicle of his life.

Lessons in History

One of our guiding principles of this new adventure is to push ourselves out of our comfort zone.

We are fairly private people, living for the most part conventional and shall we say prosaic lives. With our decision to cast off our shore life, we are revealing the details of our challenges, decisions, disagreements, and fears as well as being fairly transparent about our lives.

So, this pretty much falls squarely outside of our comfort zone. 

Certainly with the advent of unscripted programming and the continued success of documentary filmmaking, we are proposing to do something that may seem similar, however it is not. What we describe here is not produced or edited to follow a story arc or narrative envisioned by producers. We are not here to capture as many eyeballs with sensationalism or click-bait. 

In as raw a way as possible, we want to convey our story and we think it is worth it to share if it helps a few others who want to take these steps. Life isn’t about following a script and certainly not one written by someone else.

Life is about defining your choices, showing courage, and taking a leap of faith. 

 

 

Reading Time: 4 minutes

A couple months ago, we decided to experiment with ways to go green. For us this means, living deliberately and raising our awareness about how we impact the world around us. Here are a few updates on our progress towards ethical sailing.

Happy World Oceans Day

Sailors for the Sea

as of May 9, 2020

As the quest for going green continues. I came across a great resource Sailors for the Sea . They provide a list of commercial products that have been tested for the environment based on the following factors:

  • cleaning
  • performance
  • toxicity
  • biodegradability

The site also provides recipes for making your own cleaning products with lemon juice, vinegar, baking soda, and salt. 

Learning about topics like this gets me more excited to move aboard. In the meantime, we may give these DIY solutions a try while we are still on land. Much like our water water everywhere experiment, we’ll test out commercial and DIY solutions in a future post. 

 

Reef-safe Toothpaste

It has been precisely one month since we began using toothpaste powder. All of the ingredients are naturally occurring (sea salt, peppermint oil, etc.) and biodegradable. While the packaging is plastic, we feel confident that this form will last us longer than toothpaste tubes. So far we have seen advantages such as:

  • water conservation – less water is needed, because there is no rinsing!
  • salt – antibiotic, cleansing properties – Andrew noticed he had a canker sore developing in his mouth. In 2 days, it disappeared 
  • plaque reduction – with its mild abrasion, my teeth feel cleaner as if I had used an electric toothbrush 

In addition, we are gathering more ideas about zero waste. Here are other cruisers who have forged a path ahead of us, including

Reef-friendly Shampoo

A couple weeks ago, we ran out of our usual shampoo. We took this as an opportunity to experiment with other ways to clean our hair. Andrew opted to use a bar of soap and said it worked great for him. I shook my head, recalling days from my youth when I tried that on my long mane. There is a tacky residue that stays behind on my hair which makes it difficult to comb or brush. I equate that with pain, so using a bar of soap was a non-starter. Instead, I reached for a body wash that had been hanging around in our shower for much too long. That seemed to do the trick until that also ran out.

I decided to pull the trigger and purchase a zero waste, biodegradable shampoo bar made in New Zealand and give that a shot. 

Verdict? Ethique left a bit of residue, but it wasn’t as tacky as my experience with Oatmeal and Honey soap from Trader Joe’s. I sprayed some leave-in conditioner and had no issue combing out my wet hair.

When I described what I was experiencing, Andrew asked me how I was applying it to my hair. He offered a suggestion which is to lather the soap in my hands to apply rather than smear the soap directly on my hair. 100% improvement! 

Reduce Plastic – Go Bamboo

We are trying out bamboo toothbrushes. The Greenzla bamboo set we picked up from Amazon come with 4 charcoal bamboo toothbrushes, a travel bamboo tube holder and charcoal mint floss. 

Our bamboo toothbrushes, dental floss and bamboo travel holder are all additive, coloring and BPA Free, and are manufactured in an FDA registered facility, so they’re better for you and better for the planet too.

If most dentists, and the American Dental Association (ADA), recommend changing your toothbrush every 3 months, then over our lifetime we would have used and thrown out over 350 toothbrushes or 7 kg of plastic waste (based on an average weight of 20 g per toothbrush). That seems unnecessary going forward. 

Perhaps the only downside is they come with only soft bristles and Andrew prefers medium bristles. 

Photo courtesy of Business Insider

Zero Waste Products

Also starting this month, I decided look at other areas of waste and reduce my use of single use, disposable items such as tampons. When I think about boat life and carrying smelly items aboard, it was a natural conclusion to switch things up. Andrew had no idea I was contemplating this until he sorted through the latest Amazon delivery and exclaimed, “My menstrual cup arrived!”

I chose this particular one based on a recommendation by Pick Up Limes. It’s interesting how marketers have influenced the behavior of millions of women, steering us at a young age toward disposable items. This reminds me of cigarette advertising: get ’em while they’re young and you’ll have a customer for life. 

The benefits of this are:

  • less waste
  • less cost
  • more time

I’m sold! I can use this product for a year and simultaneously reduce waste, especially smelly waste.

As we continue to discover products that align with zero waste, minimalism, self-sustainability or going green, we’ll continue to provide updates on ethical sailing. Please note that we are providing links for convenience, and we are not earning any affiliate revenue. 

 

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Before jumping into our topic today about packing light, we wanted to highlight news about Patrick and Rebecca Childress of s/v Brick House. Their youtube channel has been an inspiration for both of us, and we were quite literally shocked to find out that they were both diagnosed with coronavirus on May 15th.

 

While Rebecca is slowly recovering aboard their boat in South Africa, Patrick was admitted into the ICU and has been on a ventilator and is experiencing kidney failure. Their insurance claim has been denied since it does not cover pandemic, so we have donated to help them out.

 

Money should be the worst and last thing anyone in this situation would need to worry about. Having Patrick come back home as soon as possible to Rebecca… that’s what is important.

 

If you would also like to help, here is the GoFundMe to support them. Thank you.

 

 

30-weeks to minimalism kicked off the first of a 5 part series on getting prepared to live on a sailboat. This begins by downsizing many of our land-based belongings. We made a yeoman’s effort earlier this year, but in this post, we take a critical eye at clothes and consider packing light.

 

This also gives us an opportunity to give you a boat tour of s/v Rachel J. Slocum. 

 

“He who would travel happily must travel light.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Business Globetrotter

In my 30’s, I caught the travel bug after my first business trip to Milan when I was working at Universal Studios. Eventually, this lead to a business development position at Technicolor, where I flew to Asia and Europe with some frequency. During the few hours I could steal way between meetings, I would visit sites profiled in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. Back then, packing light was desirable when I would be in a different city each night while circumnavigating the world.

Now, packing light is an imperative as we embark on our sailing adventure. 

Leisure Packing

When Andrew and I began to travel together, it didn’t take long nor did it take much discussion before we began to pack all our belongings into one bag. Yes ladies, one single bag. Shocking, I know.

Andrew usually took the lead, gathering all that would be needed on a trip.

The first of our trips was camping and hiking to a few of the highest peaks in California (San Gorgonio and San Jacinto). Because he was more familiar with the gear, he selected and packed in Tetris-like fashion everything that we needed into our packs. He would take into consideration balancing the weight in addition to the bulk of hard vs soft items. All-in-all, a thoughtful approach. 

When we went on our honeymoon for two weeks traveling throughout Japan and Taiwan, we each carried a backpack, opting to stay in AirBnB’s to do our laundry every couple of days for the few clothes we carried.

As a result, we discovered the pleasure of staying nimble so we can take impromptu excursions and side-trips. For example, just as when we were headed for Kyoto, we took a detour to hike Poet’s Mountain. There’s no way we would have done that with a roller-bag.

So with this background, we turn to packing for the rest of our life in a 50′ sailboat. 

Packing Light

How do you go about packing for the rest of your life?

We started by taking measurements of some of the interior spaces of s/v Rachel J. Slocum during our visit to Ft. Lauderdale in March. 

While Bill was taking Andrew through some of the topside features of the boat, his wife and I went down below while I recorded the measurements of each of the drawers and hanging lockers, paying attention primarily to the areas for personal items. 

Spaces in the bilge, under the settee, pantry storage, v-berth where the workshop is located – I didn’t bother measuring, since I envisioned all the spares, tools and provisions would be allocated to these spaces. 

So with these few bits of information, we could begin to formulate a plan.  

Clothes

One of the most impactful changes will be downsizing clothes for this lifestyle. In our house, our clothes currently occupy 5 closets, 4 dressers, and a linen closet. This is roughly 510 cubic feet of space.

While I easily have 2-3 times more clothes than Andrew, we both have a lot of decisions to make when it comes to preparing for this lifestyle. 

Storage Options

In the owner’s cabin of s/v Rachel J. Slocum, there is a single dresser (8 drawers), 2 hanging lockers, and 2 hatches above the bookshelves next to the bed.

Additionally, there are two other hanging lockers: one located just outside the v-berth and another next to the companion way to stow foul weather gear.

This is about 65 cubic feet of space compared to 510 cubic feet which we have in our home. This requires that we be ruthless to reduce our possessions by 85% or more.

In 30-weeks to minimalism , we talked about purging by knocking out each category one at a time. This helped to get rid of two closets worth of clothes, and I was quite proud of that effort. However when I looked at the storage options available on RJ Slocum, I knew I needed to start from zero and only take what I need and could fit aboard.

Technical Gear

Thanks to several years and thousands of dollars spent on Lululemon, we have more than enough athletic and technical clothes to choose to bring with us aboard. By technical clothes, we mean fast drying, sweat wicking, UPF, waterproof, windproof, and insulating yet breathable clothing.

We also have a variety of clothes from Arc’teryx, Ex Officio, Kit and Ace, The North Face, REI among others, If we want to remain comfortable at sea, gone are the cottons, silks, linens, leather, wool and other fabrics that will not hold up well to this lifestyle. A tropical marine environment spawns mold and mildew if you’re not careful. Additionally, salt water and sun will take their toll on everything. 

Storage Solutions

To store these clothes, we’ll use a variety of techniques that many apartment dwellers use to save on space. These include:

  • stackable hangers
  • folding the Marie Kondo way
  • vacuum bags for seasonal items

As for shoes, marine shoes, flip flops, hiking boots, etc. will be stored in plastic milk crates for ventilation at the base of the hanging lockers. Dirty laundry will also be stored in milk crates.

Foul weather gear will go in the locker closest to the companion way.

 

Notice the measurements labeled in both the hanging space as well as the drawers.

Practicum

To put this into practice, I taped off and measured 20″ of hanging locker space for myself, 12″ of foul weather gear locker space (of which I would take up half), and the precise dimensions of the 4 drawers I would take up on RJS for clothes. When I saw the amount of space I had available to me, it was sobering. For many women, it would be a shock.

Then, I referred to Beth Leonard’s The Voyager’s Handbook which detailed the number and type of items considered the minimum to pack for a tropical and temperate cruising destination (e.g., 10 t-shirts, 4 tank tops, etc.)

In other words, these all went into the “Yes” pile. What I had already pre-selected several weeks ago became the new “Maybe” pile. Any category of clothes that had not yet been screened automatically went into the “No” pile. 

All of a sudden, I was done and packing light became a reality. 

Food for Thought

When this experiment was near complete, I showed Andrew the approach and he was excited equally enthusiastic about the results. He then threw in the potential for taking more items if we were to vacuum seal some of the items from the “maybe” pile so that we wouldn’t wont for more. 

This is one of the many examples of the “battle of the givers.” I found a way to become at peace with less and he gave me a way to take more and not feel quite as much sacrifice. Rather than packing light, I would then be packing medium… at least until we arrive and assess what additional storage could really be found.

How to handle rejection

For the clothes that are in the reject pile, they can be gifted, sold or donated. Going Zero Waste provides some ideas for organizations that will take donations of unusual items such as bras, eyeglasses, cosmetics and shoes. Before tossing anything, we will also be taking advantage of TerraCycle to determine what to do with other waste streams.

 

How we selected clothes and linens for our voyaging life. 

Progress to date

as of May 18, 2020

The table details our approach: on the left is the choices we will make for clothes and on the right is for linens. Beginning with a list of all of the items and working from left to right, each item is assigned some relevance (marked in orange) for sailing in high-latitude, temperate or tropic climates. Each item is also given a minimum number or range required as per The Voyager’s Handbook. Additional clothes were itemized if they weren’t listed in the handbook (e.g., pajamas, climbing gear, vest, etc.) 

I filled out the next 2 columns based on a) items that fit in the allotted hanging locker and drawers and b) optional items I would like to take if there is more room aboard the boat. The next 2 columns were filled out by Andrew.

Andrew had a chance to tackle his closet with the same rigorous editing. Going into it, he thought it would be easy, breezy. About 30 minutes into the process, he realized this was going to be a grind. While I sat on the bed happily knitting, I would field his packing-related questions. By lunchtime, he had gone through his wardrobe and he felt good about the progress he made. While he didn’t take the final step as I did, which was to pack all of the items into a suitcase, he now has everything in order, except for shoes.

Linens was also a topic of conversation over the past week. We will provide more details on that when we discuss the Boat Head

 

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Rather than overreact to coronavirus media hype, set your waypoint & maintain a steady course through these rough seas we call life.

In the midst of the media onslaught on coronavirus, we all want to do the right thing. We hear advice from the experts while at the same time we are deluged with misinformation.

  • How do you make sense of all this?
  • Do you give into the fear and follow the panicked hoarders?
  • How do you stop from screaming at those who aren’t taking this seriously?

Here are our top 5 strategies to stay sane during this time.

1 – Unplug

With the amount of media coverage on coronavirus, it’s pretty hard to achieve a balance. I see a suggestion on Facebook encouraging people to post some good news. It’s a fine effort, I suppose. In my experience, I find it far easier to modify my own behavior than the behavior of others.

So, after updating myself on the news in the morning, I unplug.

I walk away from social media, news feeds, and conversations about coronavirus. This obsessive focus on the latest announcement isn’t healthy for me. It certainly can’t be healthy for anyone.

Find ways to occupy your time. Read a book. Watch a movie. Go for a walk. Play with your dog or cat. Tend to your garden. Learn a new skill. 

I am recently retired, so I’ve had to deal with a different transition alongside adjusting to coronavirus. Because I don’t have work deliverables and work colleagues to distract me, I find other ways to distract myself from the media.

I spend my days writing, knitting, playing piano, talking to Andrew, chatting with my mom and my friends on the phone or Facetime, making jewelry, playing with my cats, going on walks, reading books about sailing, experimenting with a new recipe, generating new content for serenadewind.com, and brainstorming about our future plans on a whiteboard, 

2 – Introspection

Whether going into the wilderness or carving out a little time on your own, this is a great opportunity to embrace solitude. There are time-tested benefits and we hope you will find inspiration in these quotes:

  • Originality thrives in seclusion, free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alone – that is the secret of invention. Be alone – that is when ideas are born. ~ Nikola Tesla
  • A man can be himself so long as he is alone. If he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom; for it is only when he is alone that he is really free. ~ Arthur Schopenhauer
  • The best thinking has been done in solitude. The worst has been done in turmoil. ~ Thomas A. Edison
  • I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude. ~ Henry David Thoreau
  • I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person. ~ Oscar Wilde

We elaborated on this as well in our post Selectively Social

3 – Deepen relationships

We’re all in this together. Why not make the most of it? Take some time out each day to talk with each family member. What is each person going through? If the answer is “despair,” check out Trey Ratcliff’s video on this topic. 

Despair is a necessary and seasonal state of repair, a temporary healing absence, an internal physiological and psychological winter when our previous forms of participation in the world take a rest; it is a loss of horizon, it is the place we go when we do not want to be found in the same way anymore. We give up hope when certain particular wishes are no longer able to come true and despair is the time in which we both endure and heal, even when we have not yet found the new form of hope. ~ David Whyte 

Brainstorm about your future plans, as we did when we started this whole journey in our Whiteboard post. Look at this collective moment in time to re-prioritize your life.  We elaborated on this as well in our post Project Slocum, Part 3

4 – Go into the wilderness

Observing shelter at home measures, which I support wholeheartedly, we have all become quite sedentary. Many of us may also be stress-eating. All this will lead to the nation (or the world for that matter) gaining the “COVID-15.” 

All beaches are closed. National parks same. Points of interest around the world where people tend to congregate – they are all shut down. For us personally, climbers are also warned against climbing at their favorite crags during this time. 

So, how can we be more creative about spending time outside and yet still practice social distancing?

Orienteering anyone?

A few weekends ago, Andrew and I drove to the Angeles National Forest in the San Gabriel Mountains. I’m familiar with a few hikes there back when I was training for summiting Machu Picchu. With that background, I knew the location of several trailheads and decided if the parking lots were full or if we were turned away, we could park off the side of the road and head into the woods.

I have a compass app on my iphone, and even if I didn’t, we could Bear Grylls our way up and back on our own off-trail hike. Pick a heading or a landmark and head towards it for 2 hours. Hang out in the middle of the forest and breathe in your surroundings. When you’re ready to go, hike back to the road. 

As luck would have it, we snagged one of the last remaining spots at the Icehouse Canyon Trailhead for Timberland Mountain. Modernhiker is a great resource in general for hikes in Southern California. I pulled up the website and familiarized myself again with the route. 

The cool part of this trail is that it runs alongside a flowing river, filled each spring when the snow melts or after storms pass through, such as the ones we’ve had this season, We decided to scramble on the rocks and take photographs. While other hikers remained 50+ feet away on trail, we were secluded and adequately distanced from everyone else. 

While I can imagine park rangers the world over cringing, we are at an unprecedented time. For those who embark on this activity, remember to act responsibly, which includes the following:

  1. Keep your distance from other hikers (6′ or more)
  2. Leave no trace (pack out all trash)
  3. Dispose of human waste properly
  4. Keep a low profile and minimize noise
  5. Respect other hikers and be mindful of hiking etiquette 
While more parking lots at trailheads are closed, rangers didn’t seem to stop hikers from venturing on trails while observing the guidance above.

5 – Chart a waypoint

In the end, Andrew and I have found that we take all of the information we gather each day about the events and we weigh them all in balance. Rather than have a knee-jerk reaction to all the media hype, we use our own judgment to chart a course, to establish a waypoint to our destination, and to maintain a steady course during the rough seas we call life.

We hope you find this helpful. 

 

Reading Time: 2 minutes

“Originality thrives in seclusion, free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alone – that is the secret of invention. Be alone – that is when ideas are born.”

Nikola Tesla

Selectively Social

Upon first meeting either Andrew or I, many people are surprised to find out that we are both introverts. We are selectively social because we dislike shallow small talk. Spending too much time with other people leaves us feeling drained. We are sensitive to our surroundings: loud din in crowded restaurants, how the environment looks, how many people there are, and the noise level can deplete our energy stores leaving us irritable. There are physical consequences as well which commonly includes headache, muscle fatigue, and exhaustion. 

At the same time, we are friendly and approachable, While we prefer meaningful conversation, we are good at making light chit chat. So while some may call this being an ambivert , perhaps we can all agree that everyone will fall somewhere along the spectrum and not at the extremes. We are social introverts.

These days as we are sharing our story, we are being selectively social. It’s the only way to get through the day before reaching the brink of utter exhaustion. At the same time, we find it also fundamentally important to share this experience with others. Luckily we can do this in a variety ways, including here on serenadewind.com. 

Finding Time to be Still

During these early months of retirement, I am scheduling a few social interactions to reconnect with friends from the past. Mostly, however, I am leaving the calendar relatively clear to allow time for introspection. That’s a difficult concept in this current “culture of personality” that relies on proving oneself, group think, and collaboration for success. We are in an era that rewards charisma in leaders over substance.

Much like in the message provided in Susan Cain’s TedTalks, we historically came from a “culture of character.” The essence of what was inside a person is what defined him or her. We admire Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Gandhi, and Eleanor Roosevelt. All were transformative leaders who described themselves as quiet, soft-spoken or shy. 

I chose the Tesla quote above because it reinforces the message that solitude is the key to creativity, to break-through thoughts, and to innovation. It is the birthplace of ideas. 

The Gift of Time

I give myself this gift of time. To go into the proverbial (or actual) wilderness. To be alone, but not lonely. Generate my own ideas and have my own revelations. 

Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, is an introvert. So as she gets up to present from the TED2012 stage, bag in hand, it is not a comfortable experience. But it’s an important one, and that’s the point.

Selectively Social Theme

The voyager’s journey is one that is in pursuit of these quiet moments of introspection. The theme of being selectively social is echoed in the following stories:

 

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Past, present and future. After a couple weeks spent with ideas about the future pinballing around in my mind, I finally got some closure on a few things. There’s something to be said about spending too much time in the past or in the future can create a lot of stress.

 

The Past

Take for instance, if you were to think about the past, including regrets in your life, consequences of mistakes you had made, etc., it can get pretty depressing and unproductive, especially given the fact that you can’t do anything about the past.

 

The Future

At the other extreme, thinking too much about the future and what unknowns lay ahead, planning for every contingency, etc., can also create a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety. This is especially the case for someone like me, who is Type A.

The present is the only time that you actually have control.

 

The Present

Decisions being made about today or the near future (i.e, what are you planning to do this weekend) – all this is within your control. And I suppose this view can also help with sailing as well. Even though you may want to plan for passage-making by provisioning twice the amount of food, making sure you have spares for many things, taking a near present view is certainly less stressful than planning out 2-3 years in advance.

Who can manage all those unknowns? It’s not possible.

I also noticed that, in thinking about change, I looked at some extreme examples of what our new life would be like. For example, what if we…

  • made an offer on s/v Rachel J. Slocum
  • had to close the sale in 30 days
  • liquidate all our assets in the next 30 days
  • move to Florida with just 2 suitcases each

Start our adventure all in the span of 3 months. Naturally, I freaked out. This was one of the main ideas pinballing around in my mind.

Another pinball was, what if we liquidated all our assets so we were left with just 2 suitcases each, flew to Germany and rented an apartment for a year while we apprenticed to the Sirius boatyard and helped to build our own sailboat.

As you can see, taking these extreme ideas and aggressive timelines stressed me out. But in pushing the limits and wrapping my head around them, I then relaxed the timeline.

For example, what if this took place over 1 year instead of 3 months? As a result of allowing myself more time, I felt less pressure and less stress. And in doing so, I could proceed with any choice with confidence.

Even though this works for me, this process is probably a bad one to mimic.

 

Post Script

I have not read “The Power of Now” or “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle. Based on reading the excerpts, I gather that both seem to echo similar sentiments as what I’ve written above.

It also just goes to show that there’s probably no new original thought these days. I do however believe as humans, we all experience similar experiences and awakenings. And I suppose rather than look for credit or take credit, let’s all appreciate the truth in each of us, however we arrive at these truths. 

 

 

Past, present and future updates

as of May 9, 2020

Over the past week, my mom has also been experiencing insomnia largely due to having to make major decisions and redefining her relationship with money.

Since I have experienced this very recently as written up in Support Local, this has given me the opportunity to help her with this concept of quieting her mind and acknowledging what she has control over. She and I both have an ability to multi-task well, but when there are too many things happening simultaneously, we are overwhelmed and we break down. 

So I’ve been giving her tools to help assign different timelines to certain activities much as how I have mapped out my short term and long term goals in both a bullet journal as well as in our whiteboard exercise. In addition, I have helped her with this concept of past, present and future. The hope is that by focusing her mind as much as she can on the present or near present, she could get through the night and sleep peacefully. 

Reading Time: 5 minutes

In today’s story, we follow-up our whiteboard discussion and describe how we went about deciding to turn our life upside down to go sailing around the world. During a pivotal Sunday morning session in October, 2019, we chose to combine the following post-it notes to begin our discussion…

 

More sailing

 

Buy a boat

 

Paid to do what you love doing

More Sailing

Before we met, Andrew and I both spent a bit of time sailing. When he was living in British Columbia, he owned a catamaran (her name was Periwinkle) which he took out all the time on his own around Boundary Bay.

I had taken a variety of ASA courses, joined a sailing club which got me out on a 36’ Catalina twice a month for a few years, chartered yachts from time to time, raced in the summer Wednesday sunset regattas out of Marina Del Rey, did a moonlight sail in San Francisco (caught in the fog with strong currents was a memorable experience), and crewed a 10-day trip island hopping in the British Virgin Islands.

Andrew & Denise motoring through Corinth Canal, Oct 2017

After we met, we continued to do a little bit of sailing together and even went to Greece on a sailing trip from Corfu to Athens via Corinth Canal. But because life took us in different directions since then, we thought why not see how we can re-incorporate that love of sailing back into our lives.

Buy a boat

What better way to incorporate sailing than by buying a boat? It seems rather than pay to charter boats for sailing vacations, signing up for offshore expeditions, or join sailing clubs much like the one I had experienced at CSC, we wanted a far more meaningful experience than being weekend sailors. We went through an 8-step process to define our needs. 

Once you begin to let go of the notion of living in a house and consider moving aboard a sailboat, the economics flip. Sailing no longer becomes an incremental expense. Sailing becomes the primary living expense, and rent/mortgages, transportation costs, and other big ticket items go to zero.

Find Dream Job

The other big idea to tackle was how do you go about finding a job and get paid to do what you love doing.

Now I realize in the spectrum of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, this is akin to a level 5… self-actualization needs.

Collectively, it seemed in varying degrees we weren’t struggling with levels 1 through 3; there may still be work to do in level 4; and certainly we wanted to see how we can put the idea of becoming the best person you can be in whatever way you can define it.

So that was it. In some respects, having chosen a few things to focus on suddenly made things actionable.

 

What does boat life mean to us?

Under a topic of “Boat Living,” we began to map out what that would look like to us. These included: 

  • expanding our sailing certification/knowledge/experience,
  • learning boat maintenance,
  • determining how long we would want to do it,
  • then making a transition by downsizing all our belongings,
  • maybe doing a trial run, 
  • buy a boat,
  • move aboard.

We then assessed the pros and cons.

 

The Pros

At the top of the list of Pros for a life of sailing around the world:

  • No commute!
  • More Travel!
  • More time together!
  • Reduced possessions!

I’ll underscore this last point, because there is something about the What’s in your backpack speech that resonates with me. Imagine how much lighter it feels to move around having shed all this… this stuff. Now that it’s empty, you can then selectively curate experiences rather than possessions. We explore this topic further in 30-weeks to minimalism.

For me, I start to envision a mash-up of activities I love such as sailing to a remote island with rocky cliffs, dropping anchor, dinghy to shore, and rock climb/deep water solo existing routes or maybe even establishing new routes.

Chris Sharma climbs without ropes a.k.a. deep water solo (a form of solo rock climbing that relies solely upon the presence of water at the base of a climb to protect against injury from fallings from the generally high difficulty routes). Photo courtesy of Wallpaper Safari

How cool is that?

Other activities assumed while sailing would include music, seeing new places, hiking, even snowboarding if we were to sail to high latitude destinations, learning boat systems, doing more handy work, knitting, photography, reading, and of course cooking.

Morning Haze is an aluminium-hulled Bestevaer 55ST built specifically for high latitudes cruising. Photo courtesy of Benedict Gross

Imagine being able to pursue your current passions and to be doing them whenever the f*ck I please (think Teddy KGB).

Before my imagination runs amok, there are of course some downsides to sailing around the world.

 

The Cons

For us, the cons about sailing around the world would include not having a reliable source of income and potentially reduced social life. If I were to pick the first thing to tackle, it would be the money.

Time to go to the spreadsheet!

We began to do some research across bank accounts, 401Ks, etc. and once you add up all the bits and pieces into a spreadsheet… I was gobsmacked.

It’s a funny thing that at the start of my career, I set up all the automatic withdrawals, selected a few broad index growth funds and ka-ching! Just like that, I got the empty backpack feeling. I was now looking at the world through a different lens, one that saw many opportunities for adventure. All of a sudden, our lives in Southern California driving to and from work seemed so little.

A life of sailing the high seas seemed like a very real and very sustainable possibility for the rest of our lives…

I’m on a boat

For the past couple of years, The Lonely Island channel has been featured in our car and each time “I’m on a boat” comes on, I crank it up! 

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Aug. 2018

Complacency had settled in only after a few years of getting married. It didn’t take long before Andrew and I decided to take control and to do that, it was time to go to the whiteboard.

Shortly after marrying, Andrew and I had grown accustomed to a routine of working anywhere between 60 to 80 hour weeks with personal time together relegated to a couple stolen hours each day during the week. Naturally, there were the weekends as well, when we would go to the gym, visit with family, host an occasional BBQ, and run errands or take care of chores.

Many of you may also have jam-packed itineraries chauffeuring your kids to soccer practice, piano lessons, gymnastics and all sorts of kids birthday parties in various assorted venues.

Sound familiar?

Where does the time go?

If you really break down how you spend your time in a given week, it may look something like this.

How we spend our time

We took a hard look at this distribution of time. While we didn’t like the reality we were living, we also saw this as an opportunity to not be complacent. So, we spent a few hours on a sunny Sunday morning challenging ourselves with the following questions:

Is this all there is?

What do we want to do with the rest of our lives?

How do we spend more time together?

Can we do the work that we love so it doesn’t feel like work?

Do we want to live abroad?

Let’s reduce commute time!

What do we want to do more of?

Time to go to the whiteboard

Problem solving with a whiteboard

There were many more questions and ideas that were thrown up on a whiteboard.

  • Ideas were organized between short term goals and long term goals.
  • We admitted to what were our deal-breakers. Things we aren’t willing to give up.
  • A parking lot was set up for things we would want to explore later.

Essentially, we used tools often taken for granted in a business setting and applied it to our own personal lives and it worked for us because it really helped to crystalize our goals.

That Sunday morning session concluded with a decision to start knocking out some short-term goals. We decided to sacrifice our usual Sunday climbing session at our gym, Sender One. And it felt great. We left the whiteboard on display as a visual reminder that we would see each day and help to keep us on track.

 

Current Life of Andrew and Denise

One year later…

On the whole, the pie chart was largely unchanged. Our lives were still manic and frantic. I would venture to say that even the segment for Work increased and Personal decreased and the quality of the segment for Personal was spent stressing about Work.

No bueno.

For me, much of that had to do with a new role I had taken on at work which was undergoing a lot of changes with not a lot of resources. I had estimated it would take 6 months before work would stabilize and unfortunately it continued to grow more chaotic and demanding.

Time to go to the whiteboard (again)

We did knock out a good portion of our short term goals, but our long term goals remained unaddressed. Once again, not wanting to fall into complacency, we spent another sunny Sunday morning session in October, 2019 and took a few long term goal stickies, grouped them and began to hash out a project plan around how to take it from concept to reality.

This was the genesis of our new adventure… to sail around the world.

Future Life of Andrew and Denise