Velella's Drift

An account of Velella's voyage from Seattle to New York via Panama, 2009-2011

And yet and yet…

[A followup to “Hollywood Makes an Offer”]

Spending 10 hours with strangers is some serious quality time. European-style quality time. I honestly thought we were just going to get coffee, and then…it turned into THIS.

It was 10:30 pm when Prescott and I got home to Velella. Even I have to admit, she felt like an old reliable mare compared to the stallion of a yacht we’d spent the day in. We were exhausted, deflated, and slept little.

It took us both a couple of days to process our thoughts. So much information and opportunity had been dumped on us, and we weren’t prepared, and it was completely overwhelming. Like Prescott, I oscillated between thinking “This is it–this is what’s going to get us out of LA, take care of us financially, and provide invaluable experience professionally for us” and feeling pangs of…hesitation? doubt? regret? I wasn’t sure what.

The money was severely tempting. We are struggling here in a very expensive place in an extremely ill job market to save the funds for an incredibly large trip. We have about $10,000 more of outfitting to do to the boat before she’s ready to make the offshore, international tour, and that does not include the money we’ll need to spend along the way. My $10,000 estimate does not cover anything extraneous, like a bimini, storm sails, an inflatable kayak, a water maker, and many other wonderful potential upgrades. We are outfitting only with what we absolutely need, cheaply and simply as possible, but it’s still critical that we obtain a couple of major items. To have someone hand it all to me and more, and offer to pay me on top of that to outfit their boat with an unlimited budget–I was seriously, seriously excited. But something was keeping me awake at night and making me sad about the whole thing, and I couldn’t put my finger on what it was.

Prescott and I talked about it constantly for two days straight. Pros and cons, excitement and fear, digging around in our brains for a rationale to make the decision one way or the other. It was only with the help of talking to our parents that we were able to step out of it far enough to think clearly. We were putting way too much pressure on ourselves to commit, when what we really needed to do was get to know them better. I decided to write and offer Lucio and Renata our hourly assistance for a few weeks as a trial period–both for our sakes and theirs–to see whether we all worked well together. Putting off the decision made me feel much better.

However, Prescott and I both had strong reactions to a couple of the ideas they had casually mentioned–the biggest one being the enforcement of a three-person rotating crew between the two boats. Velella is our home, our space, and we weren’t eager to take on a permanent third person (who we’d never met), nor did we want to be compelled to live for portions of time on their sailboat. When I thought it through, I realized there would be times when neither Prescott nor I would be sailing on Velella, and that thought was so absurd I decided to draw the line there. Maybe an archaic notion, but nevertheless a gut conviction for me–there was no way in hell this captain is leaving her vessel to be commanded by someone else. I felt like they’d asked me if they could raise my firstborn, just for years 2-4 and 7-10. Are you kidding me?

I wrote a very long email stating why we were excited, what we thought we could contribute, and what our concerns were. I primarily focused on the rotating crew thing, saying that was not an agreeable arrangement for us, and wondering if they would be flexible on that (rather extraneous) notion they’d had.

It felt good to define our boundaries, even just one of them. After we did that I started to realize what it was we’d be giving up to join them. The thing is, whereas most people would jump on an offer to sail the world and film a movie because you get an awesome sailing trip out of the deal, we already have an awesome sailing trip. So what are we gaining? Professional experience for Prescott, yes. Money, yes. But these are things we know we can go about obtaining in other ways. What made me terrified was the thought that we’d be relinquishing our trip to theirs.

I have a number of books by world-renowned sailors Lin and Larry Pardey aboard the boat, and their “cheap and cheerful” approach is something we’ve worked hard to imitate, within reason. They handbuilt their first boat–an impeccably classic wooden cutter–with no engine and zero electronics, and they sailed the world in it on a very small budget. Being on Lucio and Renata’s boat was awesome in that it was tricked out to the nines, but my Lin and Larry Pardey philosophy was revolted by it. Learning to live by little and with far less has been one of the most rewarding aspects of this lifestyle. And I’m happier than I ever have been. To give up our quiet, exploratory life for high-tech everything and tons of money… why not just go back to our careers and resume “real life” ashore? I cried at the thought of becoming again what I’ve fought so hard to shed.

Ultimately, Renata and Lucio wrote back to us saying our concerns were concerning to them, and they didn’t want to bend on any of their communal notions. A surprising amount of relief washed over me as the door closed on that opportunity. I spent the next two days happily trimming Velella’s caulking by hand, lovingly sanding the decks to a smooth bright finish, and thinking about the wonderful freedom with which we’ll be able to sail, explore tiny blue anchorages, and enjoy our own silence on the way to New York.

And since we won’t be employed by a high-speed mobile production unit, I hope many of you will join us for a slice of simple beauty and sun along the way. : )



  Papa wrote @

To the crew of the good ship Velella,

I can’t help but think about that old saying, “.. one door closes, and another door opens…”.

I’m proud of you both for the way you evaluated that apparent tsunami of opportunity that came upon you so quickly.

You kept an eye on your boundaries, and kept your priorities in focus. Had that opportunity fit with your priorities, you’d probably be off and running. But it didn’t fit, and you recognized that, and you’re still cruising… on your voyage, not theirs.

I’m sure you bade and Renata and Lucio a heartfelt farewell. And I know you’ll fare well as you pursue your dream and plans aboard Velella.

Good call, guys!

Fair winds,

  kathy cleary wrote @

what goes into the plot
and what does not
is pretty much up to thee..

sound familiar meg?

discerning well is a very difficult, but necessary quality in life..
SS and WOFTOG I always say..
love, ogm

  Brook wrote @

Your choice for maintaining the quality of life you love instead of grabbing seemingly immediate fame and fortune is beautiful. I’m so proud of you.
Love you so much.

  Lin wrote @

weird… my comment was going to be similar to papa’s, but with a slightly girly twist:

(julie andrew’s voice): “when god closes a door, somewhere he opens a window”…

and I’m surprised he didn’t mention anything about CON-fi-dence, either. i have it. in both of you.

can’t wait to join you for a sail!!!!!!! sooner than you think!

  janice reid wrote @

Interesting. When Butch read Prescott’s blog about the Brazilians and the opportunity offered, his comment was about how demanding those folks would probably be, he expected even more so than regular yachting folk…who’d a’ thought?
Anxious to see you again. Maybe the last week-end in February, i’ll be down south. Now that I have a gps, i can find you and see your mooring and Meghan’s store. You both inspire me in many ways. love you, aj

  Tessa wrote @

Holy hell.

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