Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Kintala sails away

After nearly a year and a half, with one attempt derailed by an incompetent surveyor, Kintala, our faithful Tartan 42, has become the apple of a brand new owner’s eye. It is said that the two happiest days of a boater’s life are the day the boat is bought, and the day the boat is sold. I am not finding that to be the case.

Kintala was our full-time liveaboard home for nearly 6 years. For two years before that she taught us the trials of getting an older boat ready to go cruising, and the triumphs of mastering her racing-like sailing character. She carried us to the Islands, kept us safe in 60 knot blows while riding to her anchor, and shrugged off 10+ foot seas on more than one occasion. Most importantly she taught us things about ourselves that we could not have learned from any other tutor; she fundamentally changed the way we approached life, and forever altered the way we look at the world.

Before Kintala, I was the quintessential US citizen / consumer. I owned a sports car, a pick-up truck, a collection of motorcycles, and a boat. We lived in a nice condo with a shop in the garage out back, traveled on vacations, and watched movies and sports on a big screen TV mounted to the wall perpendicular to a working fire place. Though not rich by America standards, we lived pretty well compared to the rest of the world’s population. 

To the vast majority of human kind that has walked the earth in the past, we would have been magicians. Our sculptured cave was heated and cooled on a whim and we traveled across the ground at breakneck speeds in or on thundering hunks of metal. I made a living flying… FLYING! Eight miles in the sky, covering hundreds of miles in less than an hour, and doing so night and day with (what would appear) little thought given to the weather. Rain, snow, wind, and clouds? Pfftt. I even flew OVER thunderstorms and looked down on the lightning with utter impunity. 

And, somewhere deep in my American soul, I believed I had earned such an exulted place all on my own. I had what I had, and I deserved it. But then we sold off everything except some clothes, tools, and knick-knacks, moved onto Kintala full time, and took to the sea.

Very quickly we became different people living in a different world. Kintala kept us safe in some ugly weather, but very often we didn’t feel safe. Instead we felt exposed, out on the edge, not sure of what the outcome would be. Afterwards, such moments make for great stories and indelible memories, but…”Pfffttt” was an attitude long forgotten. We no longer lived in a sculptured cave − dry, stable, heated and cooled on a whim. Every wind shift, current change, tide, and passing wake rocked, swung and tilted our world. “Stable” became a relative term. Were we holding on with both hands, finding it hard to walk, or catching things being flung off of shelves? No? Then what movement we did feel was “stable enough.” Some nights, sleep was elusive because of the sweat running down our backs and soaking the sheets. Other nights we huddled under every blanket we could scrounge, loathe to get out of the berth in the morning because we could see our breath floating toward the salon in the frigid air. We often sailed our boat cold and hungry, hot and thirsty, and soaking wet when we couldn’t outrun the rain.

We sailed to the Islands and lived for months with people who could barely fathom our riches. We lived on a YACHT, and didn’t have to work to put food on the table. That everything we owned fit into some 400 square feet was still more opulence than many of our new friends could ever hope to see. Yet they were just like me, working as hard as they could to make ends meet, worried about the people they loved, and doing what they could to make things a little better in their community. It quickly became overwhelmingly clear that I didn’t “deserve” what I had. My exalted place among human kind was a matter of a lucky birth, meeting and falling in love with the right person and - most importantly - having that person love me back. Sure we made some good decisions and worked hard. But pretty much everybody we met while causing made the best decisions they could make and worked just as hard.

As the years went by, the American consumer in me faded away. I became just another wanderer in a world filled with beauty and risk, quiet anchorages and 10 foot seas. I came to suspect that dolphins and whales might be smarter than humans, certainly wiser. I started to wonder if the main reason we can’t communicate with them is that they are so far beyond us in fitting into the cosmos that we humans just don’t have the necessary vocabulary. It may be that they don’t have thumbs and can’t make tools, but has our tool making made us smarter or wiser? Or have we just constructed a civilization that is unsustainable and built the weapons useful only for doing ourselves in?

Out in big water in our little boat, I realized the ocean cared nothing about my opinions about anything. Then I started to realize that most of my opinions didn’t matter anyway, were likely pretty foolish and uninformed, and usually tainted with more than a bit of hubris. The ocean will ferret out any incompetence, but it hasn’t a care about me being competent…or not. The same is true of the sky, of course. But I tangled with the sky in some of the most sophisticated machines human kind has ever invented, backed by a network of weather stations, specialists, airports, and experts. 

Kintala was an old sailboat with a tired motor. The skills necessary to make her go were learned thousands of years ago. Had a sailor from the 1400s magically appeared on our deck, he would not have thought us magicians. He would have known instantly if our sails needed trimmed or reefed, took one look at the night sky and known in what direction we were headed. As for the rest of it? Weather stations don’t pick up rogue waves or 40 knot winds falling out of a clear, calm night sky for reasons no can explain even to this day. The experts and specialists were out of phone and radio range. The next port, if more than 50 miles away was, in all likelihood, more than a day away as well. The hubris of land living is a hard act to maintain out in big water in a little boat. 

Life unfolded as it will, and now we find ourselves back on land. We have added a few possessions. A car is necessary, some bikes as well. We bought some used musical instruments to fill our days with a new skill of making some modest music. But we rent our two room flat, still don’t own a TV and, for the most part, keep to ourselves and family. We are happy and contented minimalists, living as lightly as we can in a burdensome world. 

And Kintala is no longer ours. Something that, at one point in the last few years, I would have thought very unlikely. I was a sailor, and I lived on a boat named Kintala. Now I am not, and I don’t. And I'm not sure what that means or where it leaves me. As to what comes next? I can’t really say. 

For I am just another wanderer in a world full of beauty and risk, quiet anchorages, and 10 foot seas. 

The first day we saw her.

Lowering Kintala into Carlyle Lake, her home for the two years we prepped to go cruising.

Motoring her from the lift pit to her new home on Carlyle Lake

Her first dock. Yes, she was the largest boat on the lake by quite a bit. It took a shoe horn to get her into that slip

One of our first sails on Lake Carlyle, long before the dodger and new bimini.

Sailing on Lake Carlyle, long before the dodger.

One of our excellent sails on Carlyle.

As good as it gets

Learning how to use the whisker pole

First sail with all of the grandkids.

The first dinner on the newly installed table
New cushions installed

Installing the best piece of equipment we ever bought - the Mantus anchor.

Time to head for warmer waters!!!

The Blessing of the Boats at Carlyle right before we left to go cruising

Our cruising sendoff with good friends John, Nancy and David

Our first anchorage cruising

Lots and lots of miles motoring on the Intercoastal Waterway

The first of hundreds of bridges we would pass under and through with Kintala.
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Annapolis

And more bridges...

Some of the ICW was a challenge in fog

Lots and lots of fabulous sunsets

And moon rises...

Our first lock experience

Friends that accompanied us on our first offshore passage from Charleston to Fernandina Beach
And "friends" that met us in Florida...

Our favorite anchorage in No-Name Harbor in Miami
No-Name Harbour

Dinner Key Moorings and the frequent storms there. This was the Mother Ship.

Kintala and the Mantus held fast through this one.
Prepped for her first hurricane, Joaquin

Didn't get us away from the storms, though...

Anchored outside of Hopetown. So glad we got to see it before hurricane Dorian.
Met by a new friend
And more friends
And more friends...
And yet even more friends

Kintala was often a sail loft with the Sailrite machine working hard

One of the many hitchhikers we had during our travels
West End Bahamas before Dorian. One of our favorite places in the Bahamas

And someday we hope to end up back here in whatever boat takes us there.


With Brio said...

Congratulations on closing one chapter and beginning another... I've enjoyed following your story for many years. What a wonderful summary of a long journey!

Tod Germanica said...

It had to happen but it's still sad. We all have to find our new function and forge our new identities every day in this new world. Fabulous pictures and kind, thoughtful stories. We got to see some of what you saw, meet some of the new friends you met. Thanks for sharing the adventures and the highs and lows and truths about the cruising life for us vicarious Laz-z-boy sailors. Bon voyage to the next adventure. Keep writing and taking pics, you'all are good at it.