Ship's Log               s/v Uliad 


 December 15 :



      We've been back just over a month now.  Given how vastly different our lives are here, it's sometimes surreal how quickly it all becomes routine to get up to an alarm clock, tie a tie, put on dress shoes, drive a car.  Port Townsend is doing its part in making the transition smooth.  It's a town steeped in nautical history, perched on a point of land looking out over the Straits of Juan de Fuca. I have fellow boaters, commercial fishermen, and other ex-cruisers for patients. Two blocks from our house I can stand ontop of a cliff and watch the ships come and go.  Not that I do.  It's almost always dark and rainy by the time I get home from the office.  Odd how quickly that seems normal, too.

      But the strangeness of a normal life pops up unexpectedly in odd places.  We all went Christmas shopping at the mall in Silverdale the other day, and soon found ourselves just too overwhelmed to continue.  Now I'm sure everyone thinks, "Oh yeah, those holiday crowds can be a real mess."  It was more than that.  Kathleen was looking for a new case for her iPhone, so we stopped at the first of three (!) phone stores within sight of the front door.  Within 60 seconds the sales clerk had slapped about 20 different models and colors down on the counter in front of poor Kath, who really had no idea of what she needed besides a case for her phone.  We embarrassingly stammered a retreat and in the painful cacophony of the food court we realized:  We're used to living places where we feel really triumphant when we find something we need.  In the Solomon Islands it would be a real success to find a phone case that fit in both black and brown.  But in the world do people choose when there are hundreds of choices.  Even selecting a jar of salsa in the grocery store can feel a little overwhelming.  And when did everyone start walking around staring at their phone all day?  Suddenly this seems like normal, accepted behavior here, but we just can't get over how rude it seems to interrupt a perfectly good personal interaction to check one's text messages!

     Emmett has quickly settled into 7th grade at Blue Heron Middle school.  His choir director heard that he can play the ukulele and quickly had him accompanying the whole group at their holiday concert this week.  He did great up there in front of a gym full of people.  And based upon the silly smile upon his face when coming home from his first school dance, I'm guessing he did alright there too.  Not that he's sharing any details.

     We also found a group called Ukuleles Unite in town that meets every month at a local pub to play songs together.  We had a great time and plan to become regulars.  Up until now, Emmett has really hated playing his uke in front of anyone else. I think it helps Em's confidence when he started seeing adults up there playing who he realizes he's better than!

      I knew from our other trips home what a time-sucking vortex the television can be, and we really worried about this.  We still don't own a TV and if it were entirely up to me, I don't think I'd ever own one.  But for years (and certainly ever since we decided we were coming back to land) Emmett has been pining away about owning a Sony PS3.  (I blame a certain trip 2 years ago to visit my friend Eric in Seattle for this)  Living on a boat was a great excuse to prevent my son from wasting his youth in front of video games, but a year ago I promised him that if he saved enough allowance to pay for half, then I'd kick in the other half.  I figured that would be the end of it since I pay him such a tiny allowance.  Somehow between that and volunteering for other chores, he's hit the sum, though, and I just don't have the heart to say, "Here ya you'd better start saving up for that flat screen!"

      So we'll soon be the full on neighborhood family with a TV and a videogame and car payments and already I mourn a bit when we each retreat to our own room with our own electronic device for the evening.  I'm already missing family afternoons visiting some reef or sitting about in the cockpit talking.  I already miss having friends nearby with nothing else on there schedule all day but to come over and commiserate about life. I already see Emmett starting to twitch at the end of a meal, wondering how quickly he can get back to more YouTube videos.  God help us when that TV and PS3 arrive.




December 21:


      Here's a bit of good news, we finally have a plan to get Uliad home.  Our old friend Otis (from Independence) whom we sailed with much of the time from the Bahamas to Tonga is taking the job of delivery captain next year.  Sometime in April, I'll fly to meet him in Singapore, and then spend a few weeks showing him all of Uliad's quirks and sailing the first leg across the North Pacific.  I'm hoping to get as far as Hong Kong before flying back and leaving the rest of the passage to him and his crew.  There are lots of delivery captains out there looking for business, but I can't tell you how pleased I am to hire someone who I personally know of his seamanship, attitudes, and knowledge of boats.  Best of all, we should have Uliad back with us in time to enjoy much of the summer here.  That should get us all away from the video screens!    


And in case you didn't catch it last month, (and with apologies to the poor sound quality, here is the link to our second annual holiday musical Christmas card: View it HERE.




                                                                                                                             created by Steve Erickson 2007-2012
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