Friday, July 11, 2014

Dashed Dreams and Pooh-isms

It starts as a thought. Sometimes it's as nebulous as a fleeting image amid the shifting colors and shapes that frequent our closed eyes, those ones in that few moments between the sigh of stretching out in bed after a long day and the blessed descent into deep sleep. Sometimes it's a nagging poke in our busy, workaday consciousness demanding attention when we have little to give, plaguing us like a fly at which we swat, irritated.

The Thought falls on fertile ground. The thought lurks in the darkness of the fertile soil, tenuous little shoots breaking through the hard shell of the seed to take root, small ones at first that will grow with water and sunshine.

The Thought becomes an idea. The Idea can't be ignored. It's a force to be reckoned with, pushing aside meetings, appointments, to-do lists, and schedules. You begin to hear musings like, “What if?” and “Maybe we could...” and “I'll look on, you know, just to see what's out there...”

The Idea becomes a dream. The Dream is all-encompassing. It involves your desire to live with less: less of a carbon footprint, less money, less “stuff” as an encumbrance, less stress. It might involve looking to travel. It might involve looking to escape. It might mean looking for a place to live with a view. You look at big boats you can't possibly ever hope to afford. You look at boats with all the comforts of home. You look at staunch blue water sailboats because you aspire to be Joshua Slocum. You pour over maps and glossy magazines with pictures of white, sandy beaches and aquamarine waters. Your umbrella drink is already in your hand as you swing in the hammock in the shade of a coconut palm.

The Dream becomes a plan. The Plan is usually the oft-intoned 5-year plan. Five years to look for and buy a boat, to take sailing classes, to purge yourselves of “stuff”, finish out your employment, move aboard, and cast off the dock lines. Ambitious? Yes. Doable? Yes.

In the same way as the seedling, this process is fragile and fraught with opportunities to fail. The process requires a mind open to new possibilities, to adventure, to change. It requires constant care. It requires thoughtful and careful choices, and it requires a tremendous amount of luck. Remove any of these and the beauty of a dream can fall by the wayside like so much refuse.

Our kids came dangerously close to this cliff yesterday. We hauled The Floating Bear out at a local marina in Ft. Lauderdale where they had made arrangements with a local mechanic to fix some of the more pressing issues so they could get on their way to their lives in Coconut Grove. The news was bad. In fact, the news was about as bad as it gets. The boat needs much more work than they anticipated, much more work than they have the financial resources to pay for, and even the mechanic who would be the beneficiary of the large check advised that our money would be better spent on another boat rather than the current money pit that is The Floating Bear. The Dream spiraled downward ever faster as the afternoon turned into evening and conversations became less hopeful.

Right around this time, as Tim and I walked back from the marina lounge, we happened to stop to chat with our friend Gillis, a full-time resident at the marina. Not being financially or emotionally involved in the drama of the Bear, he was able to offer some rather sage advice. He asked what their goal was.

Epiphany. We had lost site of the goal. The kids' goal was to find a sustainable, affordable way of living that would allow them to pursue their dream of writing and painting. While they love the idea of a sailboat and its way of fitting into nature in such a way as to compliment it rather than destroy it, they don't need a sailboat right now. They need a place to live. The Floating Bear didn't need to be The Sailing Bear.Very nearly all of the major repairs were related to The Bear's ability to ply the waters elegantly with canvas. Desirable? Yes. Necessary to reach the goal? No.

Discussions picked up this morning. Ideas were flung around, modified, tested, held up to the light, and some discarded. A hint of hope sifted through the conversation. The Dream began to be restored and a new Plan evolved. Tomorrow the Bear will begin the transformation from sailing boat to floating home and, as it is the home of an artist, a writer, and two small Pooh fans, it will undoubtedly be as creative as the original Floating Bear.  The Bear's days of sailing are over, but like its namesake, I think The Bear will carry her family safely through the floods that have been threatening, and when passersby exclaim that something (the mast) is missing from The Bear, they will have Pooh's words handy for retort: "I ought to say," explained Pooh as they walked down to the shore of the island, "that it isn't just an ordinary sort of boat."


Unknown said...

Some months back, I responded to one of Brittany's and Scott's blogs with the observation that success for cruising relates to Expectations; Experience; and Equipment. Your story today adds "Resilience" to the formula for success in cruising.

Hope the weekend goes well

Matt Mc. said...

Guess there aren't lemon laws for boaters as there are for us land lubbers?

Deb said...

@Alex- you are so right.

@Matt - unfortunately no. You can sell anybody anything you can get away with in the marine industry. If we had known about the waterspout damage on our boat we never would have bought it but the seller was not obligated to disclose it by law so he didn't.

Unknown said...

whats wrong with Mast etc etc ?

Unknown said...

I can understand your frustration with the marine industry, to a point anyhow. I bought my last boat unseen ! The boat before that basically unseen as well, I must have found the rare people which were trustworthy and honest. Besides Rick on the other side of the lake,and one guy on the west coast, I really have only the best experiences. :-)

katylinvw said...

All I had to do to find the answer to my previous question was go down a post! Sorry!

Deb said...

@Thorsten - There's nothing wrong with the mast, in fact it's going to be sold. The problem is with the boat that the mast sits on. The structure of the boat is so far gone that it can't support the stress of the mast and rigging.

Deb said...

@Thorsten - oh and by the way, lots of people buy good boats sight unseen. Just not in Florida. The difference between the marine industry in Illinois, or even Annapolis, and Florida is night and day. Everything here is three times as expensive at least and 1/3 the quality at least.

Unknown said...

actually I bought my small corsair from a Florida broker. totally awesome to deal with, h assured me the boat was in good shape. I send him the money and picked the boat up in north Carolina. The big Tri was also in Florida returning from the Bahamas and the owners and they brought it up to Illinois for me
( charged me 500 dlr for that !! ) .... sometimes its just good luck :-)