It has been so refreshing to notice the sense of community that quietly moves amongst the docks. People are always coming and going, new faces, new dogs, new stories, new adventures. It’s fascinating. There is an ever changing landscape as well, based solely on what boats arrive or leave. It has also been nice to notice the constant people we see every day. They are the faithful people we have our running conversations with about all sorts of random. It’s awesome. I love that our girls are able to visit with so many different people on a continuous basis. I also love that they get to see folks leaving on admirable adventures and journeys. The possibilities in their world expand each time.
Speaking of community, the other night our neighbor called over from him deck and told us the space station would be flying over at 8:00pm. Sure enough, right at 8pm there were about six of us all watching it go over. It reminded me what it meant to have a neighbor, something I feel we have lost with so many other places we have lived.
Because I have been home with our girls it has been fun to enjoy our neighborhood a little bit more. With some imagination we have been able to create all sorts of fun play spaces. There are perfect ramps for race cars, balance beams everywhere and tiny nooks to build tooth fairy houses, not to mention a ton of boat names to learn and letter/number hunts to partake in. With the ages of our girls the joy of washing the boat is amazing. Crossing our fingers that the allure of that activity will never wear off, though I think that might be wishful on my part. We have also been able to get out and about a little more on the island. We hiked out to the lighthouse at Cattle Point and it was crazy windy but beautiful and have visited quite a few beaches and playgrounds.
I’ve lived in a ton of different places and no matter where you go, everyone always says, “wait five minutes and the weather will change”. It is a universal phrase in America. This place proves no different. With the rain though, we have come to realize our boat has more than a few spots where water comes in. Like a lot of water. This weekend is supposed to be nice followed by a warm stretch so we will epoxy all our leaky spots. Matt has sourced all of them so now it’s time to patch them up.
I’ve decided to start a new business on San Juan Island and I’m pretty excited about it. I am going to provide a personal grocery shopping and delivery service for locals and vacationers. My business is called Island Grocery Grabber. All folks will have to do is visit my website (it’s almost done), place their order and I will shop for them and then deliver. I know that there are a million times I would have loved this service so I am hoping others will agree. I also think folks at both marinas (Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor) will enjoy this service. So many things make me happy about this new venture: I love meeting people, I love grocery shopping and I love finding ways to help people make their lives a little easier and less chaotic. Seems like the perfect match to me!
We acquired a new boat to take on short little trips around the marina and to eventually drop crab pots. Matt is working on getting a small motor for it, but for the time being we are just letting the girls hang out in it for a new perspective. We may take it out with oars this weekend. Our oldest doesn’t seem to quite grasp the concept that you can’t move quickly around this little boat despite our continued reminders. I am pretty sure she is going to take a spill into the ocean one of these days off this little boat. I suppose it will be the quickest way for her to learn.
Speaking of falling in, our sweet dog Charlie fell in last week. He was jumping back into the boat and didn’t quite make it. Fortunately he had his harness on and Matt was able to grab him and pull him out. He’s a lab and loves the water so he was only mildly concerned. It was a good reminder for us though on how quickly things like that can happen.
With spring here, so many things on the island open that otherwise close for the winter. Friday Harbor Seafood, which is an awesome little market one dock way from us just opened April 1. It’s a great way to grab fresh caught seafood plus everyone there is super friendly and the resident seal, Popeye usually hangs out there all day. The other store that just opened back up for the summer is the local ice cream shop. We can see it from our boat. The jury is still out on whether this will be a good or bad thing this summer, but I will tell you they have a million flavors and its pretty good people watching sitting out front. I know two little children that will probably ask to go every day.
Sometimes change in life comes in waves and it seems to be one of those times. In my early twenties I discovered a great way to make decisions and it has yet to let me down. We will use my most recent question as an example: should I stay with my job or leave? Next, assign each of those to one side of the coin. Stay is tails, leave is heads. Flip the coin. It landed on tails, which meant stay. However, as soon as I saw that, I said, “I don’t want to stay”. The decision was made. I quit my job. The coin always forces you to feel one way or the other, you don’t have to go with what the coin says, just trust your gut feelings. Obviously, there were other things to figure out too like money and such but I knew what decision needed to be made. This little trick has led me on numerous amazing adventures in my life and somehow I feel the same way about this time.
We are starting our list of spring projects this weekend. It’s boat cleaning time. Also the engines aren’t firing up like they should at the current moment but Matt says it’s all good and has lined up a few people to help him get it going again. We are also continuously working to manage the moisture levels in the boat. The more I read about it the more I realize that (a.) we aren’t alone and (b.) we must deal with it and (c) we will ALWAYS be dealing with it even after dealing with it. Such as living on a boat.
We purchased this boat with the intention of saving money for three to five years to buy land on San Juan Island. We wanted five acres and a tiny house so that we could essentially homestead on the island. We underestimated how much we would enjoy living on a boat. I think we might be in this boat for the long haul.
Each time we stay overnight somewhere other than our boat, I miss being on the boat more and more. What I miss most is the closeness to the out of doors that we feel each day. When we stay in a house or hotel I have no idea what the sunrise or sunset looks like, how the stars were that night or what stage the moon is in. Even for one night, I miss it. I miss the fresh air. I miss feeling the boat move with the change of weather. I also miss that cozy feeling of our family hanging out in our small space.
Now when we talk about buying land, it’s more about starting a family farm to work on, but not live on. We talk about using the land to provide for our family but having our home on our boat. There is something so beautiful and unique about living on the water. I didn’t know how much it would influence our family when we made this choice. I didn’t know the profound impact it would have in relation to who we inherently are and the beauty in simplicity it has unlocked.
I know this journey has only begun. Hell, we haven’t even left the dock yet. Ha! In time, in time. With each new change in life, we grow a little more individually and as a family and this adventure is proving to be no different. It would be so easy to find negative things with how we are living, but why? Focusing on the positive of this experience has allowed us to have clarity on where we are headed and all of the beauty this path in life has in store.
I am grateful each day that the choices we have made in life have lead us to the opportunities we have. I truly believe that my eyes have only been opened up to this gratefulness because of the change we have made in our lifestyle. Simplicity has given me a sense of place and it has provided such a feeling of comfort. I am also only beginning to understand the true gift we are unintentionally giving our children and so eager to see what this next season of spring brings.
We are new to our marina neighborhood and with the warmer sunny days arriving, so are more people. More families are down at the marina as well, which means more small children. What I have also noticed is that many of these small children (five and under) aren’t wearing life jackets on the docks. It is making me crazy.
If we are being honest here, I must preface this by saying that I am kind of a fatalist when it comes to safety. I grew up watching a steady supply of Dateline and Rescue 911 and can spot danger anywhere. It’s both annoying and helpful at the same time.
Did you know that the number one cause for accident related deaths in children ages 1-4 is drowning? I didn’t. I found story after story about kids getting stuck under docks, boats and boat ramps. Not the most cheery afternoon reading let me tell you, but they represented the reality of children and water. The common denominator in all of those incidents was the absence of a life jacket. I can see how it happens though.
We walk the docks no less than four times a day with our girls. Putting life jackets on and taking them off is a chore. It would be a thousand times easier to skip it and just hold their hand really tight and keep a close eye on them. However it seems something always happens between point A and B on the dock. We MUST look at a certain sea star, or we stop to talk with someone, or a seal pops up, or a dog passes on the dock that we MUST pat or a cool boat we haven’t seen before pulls in. All of these things cause distraction. This distraction allows for the one minute it takes a small child to fall into the water. Every single time I want to skip the life jacket I think about these things and we put them on.
Most little kids naturally have a curiosity about water. There are interesting things to see and somehow the closer they get their cute little faces to the water the happier they are. One of the most maddening yet beautiful things I have discovered is the innocence kids have about water safety. They don’t know what can happen and even when we explain it in the most kid friendly age appropriate way, it still doesn’t register as a change in action.
When I see families walking the docks with small children not in life jackets, I seriously can’t stop watching them. It’s as though I must be ready at a moments notice to spring into action if their child falls in. No one picks the day a tragedy happens. The water is cold here and that coupled with even basic swimming skills in a little person without a life jacket can cause them to sink quickly. It’s a dreadful thought but it’s a reality. The Port of Friday Harbor even has FREE life jackets that you can borrow for your time on the docks or a boat. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
So, if you have small children and frequent the marina I kindly ask you to put a life jacket on your child. It only takes one minute at the most and could save you a million moments of regret and heartache and could save a life. A wet, cold scared child with a life jacket on is way easier to deal with.