July 7, 2017
As I sail northward from Keywest, my thoughts turn to home. Not as a destination, but as a concept. Anyone who knows me might say an odd calling as I'm already at home. Though as I move along the eastern coast of Florida, the thought of returning to my childhood home snuck and maybe stuck into my thoughts. Of course, sailing to the Chesapeake would be returning to my past if I completed a voyage I have imagined. Why would I sail to a past? To revisit it? To prove something? To see how things have changed? To see how I have changed in relationship to them? To show up?
April 30, 2014
When I moved Mystique closer to the United States over the last 5 months, I have experienced some conflicting emotions associated with the idea of HOME - returning home, leaving home and feeling right at home. Sounds as if I might be homeless, doesn't it? Actually, far from it. How can I be so homeless when I believe home is located within one's being....one's heart! Home heart for me has been wherever I am.
As a US citizen boat owner, I was required to designate a place of registry in the US. Because I was born and raised on Maryland's Eastern Shore and because sailing dominated my preteen and teenage summers at Tred Avon Yacht, I decided Oxford a fitting location for my catamaran. When I bought Mystique in 2008, the nostalgia of sailing back home was alluring. This homeland destination was at best a sentimental choice for me, I still headed her towards her "home port" of Oxford, Maryland. However, I would soon change course.
As I entered American waters, I became more and more disenchanted by the prospects of taking Mystique "home". Besides a 900-mile trek along the ICW to the Chesapeake Bay, the lure and the purpose of such a journey seemed symbolic at best. It was, after all, not Mystique's home but where I grew up. After almost 50 years away Oxford and the Eastern Shore no longer felt near or dear to thevhome I craved into my retirement. While I had no doubt the journey would be an adventure, taking me closer to where I resided in Pennsylvania, I soon realized those superficial reasons were not compelling enough. As I moved Mystique northward up Florida's ICW, I had an epiphany.
Early morning in Manatee Pocket in Stuart, Florida,Mystique finds a new home port.
Since I believe the universe provides answers to all our questions, I stationed myself on deck-watch ready for its telltales, depth gauges and channel markers. It didn't take long for a fortuitous few to alter my perspective as well as my compass.
While traveling solo on the ICW, I began noticing and recognizing signs that northward was only my apparent wind. It was difficult to ignore the extreme winter weather conditions dominating much of what we heard from family and friends up north. And the fact that I had already fallen in love with the warmth of the Bahamas and the Caribbean, it didn't take a weatherman to tell me meteorological forces were at work.
For some reason experiential evidence was not enough for me. Somehow it fell short like it does for anyone with high expectations. The Ideal family doesn't existAnd I have accepted myself and love reigns.
But I soon noticed the flow of some other telltales. When I inexplicably found myself overtaken on the ICW by a boat named Gratitude from Oxford with one of my brothers aboard, I perceived it as an sign.
Within a matter of days the idea of returning to my childhood home was history. Trimming my sails to the true wind, helped me head Mystique in another direction.
As I was growing up, I felt home was confusing. It wasn't clear to me what home was or what it was meant to be. Part family, part rules, part chores, part TV sitcom, part drama, part family, part facade, part lie. I found myself a part of a home while at the same time apart from one. Home was never defined or explained. Home was simply lived without definition. It just was. No one bothered to explain what it meant to be a part of home. Questioning home was equivalent to questioning one's lineage. That would be too challenging to look in the mirror. Self-examination would mean looking at and revealing proverbial pimples, rashes, warts, hurts, wounds, scars and flaws. So I grew up without family facing any significant issues head.
Where a respectable comfort sleeps. Where acceptance lays awake. Where differences are considered uniquely normal; where unconditions kindle kindness and caring; where friends and family welcome and support one another. No matter what ines definition, home is mostly within. It travels well with me wherever I go. Home doesn't place me as much as I place it.
In 2008 soon after I purchased a 40' Robertson and Caine Leopard catamaran named Tontine, I renamed her Mystique. Though this cat had been built in South Africa in 2007, shipped to the West Indies and harbored and chartered out of Oyster Pond, Sint Maarten, she had never entered US waters until 2014. During her 5-year charter service in The Moorings' owner program, Mystique, like any sailing catamaran, was quite "at home" riding the Caribbean's welcoming winds, waters and waves while I was at home on the sea.