The beginning of a revolution is filled with promise and excitement, at least for those wanting the change. Old ways are going to be cast aside for a completely new way bringing peace and order. Or so every revolutionary assumes. The sailboat in certain corners of our mind represents a revolution for our family. The bringing in of a new order, a new way to be as a family. But we, like revolutionaries of the past, quickly found out that it is impossible to leave your past behind. You take you wherever you go. Every new order has some vestige of the old one in it and although we were on a completely new adventure, we were still bringing ourselves with us.
On our first day to the sailboat as a family, the first day my wife had ever seen the boat, and the first time we would sail it together, we started the revolution. And while we had all the dreams of a new order, the old one came with us on our journey. We are a family. I’m not sure I need to say anything more than that concerning the inherent difficulties and patterns developed within a family. Dickens could have been describing a family when he wrote about the French Revolution being the best of times and the worst of times. Our revolutionaries brought along their penchant for the unexpected and disruptive along with their love of the excitement of creating something new.
It was a cold fall day in October when we finally packed everyone, except our oldest boy, into the van. Beck had a friends birthday party to attend and we allowed him to go knowing we will have innumerable days together on the sailboat in the future. We packed everything we could possibly think of which including dressing Sawyer in multiple layers for the day. As every parent knows, but we forgot, you do not layer up a child and then stick them in a hot car for an hour and a half. Forty five minutes into our adventure we had vomit. It was then that we realized, although we didn’t fully realize the implications, that we did not have any extra clothes. Salvaging what we could of the multiple layers and using Kleenex to wipe up the floor mats we repacked everyone in the car and continued on our way.
The night before, we allowed our daughter a sleep over with two other friends. While she has a great time we have come to understand that there will be a sleepover hangover. Similar in its effects in adults, the sleepover hangover renders her fairly useless when it comes to peaceable social actions. She was not in a good mood to say the least. She watched passively and slightly annoyed as we tried in vain to get Sawyer out of the van before he threw up. She continued to spread her annoyance with us throughout the trip to the lake and onto the sailboat. It was like she was wearing dark sunglasses to lessen the headache only it was her general disposition that needed the shades. She continued in this disposition the rest of the day.
Arriving at the sailboat we attempted to recompose ourselves for the big moment when Priscilla would see the physical expression of our ten year old dream. After fighting about who would get to pull the cart full of our stuff and what electronic devices we were not going to allow on the boat we finally walked down the dock. The moment of seeing 3 Little Birds for the first time was overwhelming for me and I believe it was also for Priscilla. Seeing it you realize the incredible learning curve we are about the experience and the light headedness that such gravity induces. We all climbed aboard and let her look around and familiarize herself before we set off.
I started the engine and we looked around the dock lines and came up with a strategy to cast off. We untied the boat and hopped aboard and set it into gear. As we pulled away the excitement of finally having our own boat was coupled with the stress of knowing we also had to get it back into the slip at some point. For now though, that point was a couple hours away so we concentrated on raising the sails.
We knew when we bought the sailboat that the sails were old and in need of replacement. Because of that the mainsail would not deploy. Instead we got the jib deployed and in a good breeze were on our way. Our daughter, however, was not on the way with us. She continued to carry the cloud around with her which at this point had developed into a thunderstorm. After a few confrontational words she threw herself into the v-berth and slammed the door crying. Here we were sailing for the first time as a family. We were sailing. We were a family. Those two things were happening simultaneously. They just weren’t happening together. After a few moments I went below to coax her out of the cave. I told her we would slow the boat down to a crawl so she could go fishing. She agreed and we let out the sail as she prepared her pole. She cast here and there trying to find a good spot. Nothing was biting so she crawled onto the swim back to troll for something. Not a minute into that attempt I looked back to see her role off the back and into the 50 degree water. Girl Overboard! I threw my wallet and phone into the cockpit and prepared to dive in when I saw that she could swim to our boat easily. I pulled her out of the water by the shoulder straps of her lifejacket and Priscilla took her below. It was at this point we realized that the lack of extra clothes was a critical mistake. Not only did we lack dry clothing but we had no towels or blankets. We stripped her out of her wet clothes, dried her off with a scarf, and put one of Priscilla’s jackets around her. She was at least warm for the time being. When we got back to the van we dressed her in the only dry thing we had; her Halloween vampire costume.
We returned to the dock and successfully backed the boat into the slip; a major success in our eyes. We tied her up and headed off. Our first day of sailing had been the best of times and the worst of times meaning for us, it had been revolutionary. Viva la Revolucion!