In Limbo Between Land and Sea: Shipping Out

22 03 2012

I’m typing quietly this morning, friends.

Thick darkness outside, my housemates are still clinging to sleep. All except Bear – I poked her awake and insisted she join me downstairs. She’s been a loyal companion in my writing room all winter, reliably sprawled in front of the propane fireplace while I type, and I want her to share this final morning.

Today is our transition. With a four hour flight, our lives shift abruptly from spacious house on soil to cramped cabin at sea. When we first get settled aboard and the small wheelhouse radiates warmth from the galley’s diesel stove, I’ll view “cramped” as “cozy,” and relieved peace will seep through my body. I’ll feel a wave of affection for the vessel that, for the next six months, will be our everything. Home, workplace. At her best, a trusted friend who ensures our safety in an environment where humans don’t belong. At her worst… Well, something less than a trustworthy friend.

Having such a clearly defined, bi-annual switch between lives lends itself to reflections of what we’re saying goodbye to. On my 24th season of this migrant life, I’m an old pro at leaving, but have felt unusually ambivalent this year. So I take special pleasure with this last coffee and English muffin – neither come out as tasty on the boat – and consider the past week’s bittersweet observations.

The sizzle of chopped onions hitting the hot skillet – won’t hear that for a while. Even when you let a pan sit on the stove’s “hot spot” – right above the diesel flame – nothing ever comes to a full sizzle or rolling boil.

Damn… didn’t get a bath while I still had access to a tub. The only showers from here on out will be infrequent and in the fish plant’s communal stalls.

We didn’t eat enough Thai food this winter. Upon that realization, we splurged on take-out Pad Kee Mao twice, to tide us through the six month drought.

Save that quarter. Between fishing trips, we’ll haul loads of ripe laundry to the Laundromat.

I’ll miss this bed. Say goodbye to sprawling across the queen-size acreage. Carved of peculiar geometrics to curve with the hull, our foam bunk is an optimistic double at the shoulders, but tapers to a tangled, tight squeeze at the foot.

Bear’s not gonna like this. Our girl’s preferred water source is directly from the tap. With the Nerka’s limited water supply to carry us through two-week trips, she won’t get that option.

This migration requires adaptation from all of us. But turned inside-out, regrets reveal gifts, and my attitude shifts to giddy anticipation.

The Backdoor Café! Bernadette and Sotera! Forget the English muffin; I’ll be having pie with my coffee tomorrow morning.

Ravens! My yard birds and squirrels have been faithful visitors, but my heart belongs to Sitka’s hefty corvids.

Friends! In a community of 9000, even strangers are familiar faces. One of my favorite touchstones of returning is seeing people I don’t know by name, but whose continued presence assures me I’m home.

Home. Enough said.

Be well, friends – we’ll catch you on the other side.




14 responses

22 03 2012
Julie Farrar

All that’s left to say is “Safe travels.” I’ll be looking for your posts when you finally have down time to type.

26 03 2012

Thanks, Julie! Likewise, I’ll be following you from the north… Thanks for all of the good stuff you’ve been sharing – I enjoyed your Lucky 7! (Didn’t exactly work with my WIP, but I did check.)

22 03 2012

Farewell! Good luck! Good fishing! I was hoping we would get to meet in person this winter, but time flies and it’s spring already. When you return I will have you two over for dinner, I promise! I can’t wait to read about your adventures this summer…

22 03 2012

My last comment did not get completed before it flew off into the blogosphere! Anyway, I wanted to say that even though I did not get to see you in person while you were here, I definitely enjoyed your presence and your spirit in the town. It was nice having you! Next winter we will all get together for some drinks or coffee or writing or all three. Best wishes on your next adventure!

22 03 2012

I love your words, they are so descriptive. I hope you will have more time to write soon.

22 03 2012
Vicky Wood

Keep the Red side down!!! Once again I wish for you Gentle Winds, Calm Seas and Full Hooks……….Be Well

22 03 2012
judi bixby

The Sitka boat harbor is alive with activity! Saw your Nerka waiting patiently for you last night~she looked a little perky like she knew you were coming….not to mention a Raven sitting on the bow….Safe travels Tele~maybe Ill see you at pie!

22 03 2012

Bellingham will miss you, and so will I. Have a happy journey and I’ll take you out for Thai food when you get back. Don’t forget to bring back some fish! …Buck up, Bear, and know that your contribution to the fishing family is worth a few froths of the mouth!

22 03 2012

Great post. Safe travels! Hugs to Bear.

22 03 2012

Great piece, Tele. Safe travels! Have a piece of pie for me in Sitka!

Catch lots.

Take care,


23 03 2012

Have a bountiful safe journey, I look forward to hearing your tales of the sea or the hearth : ))

23 03 2012
Aunt Lynn

Happy landings, catch lots of fish and enjoy your gorgeous Alaska. Looking forward to more Hooked from “home!” Love ya! Aunt Lynn

23 03 2012

Stay safe, enjoy the cozy feeling as long as you can, and when it starts to fade and feel a bit cramped, we’ll all be here cheering you on.

31 12 2012
Hooked Ends 2012 on a Note of Change « Hooked

[…] reminds us that, no matter how many times we’ve pointed the bow north or south, there are always surprises. Unforeseen bumps, essentials we’ve forgotten. In the case of Hooked’s migration, I’m keeping […]

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