We had the privilege of bookending the amazing journey of s/v Begonia last week and getting to see some good friends we made in the Bahamas. The Koziuras bought a boat 18 months ago, taking a break from work and pulling their two kids out of school (Sofia is Sarah’s age and Benjie is Sam’s age). This week, after a trip across the Pond and a tour of the Mediterranean Sea and African coast, then back across to the Caribbean, they sold the boat and went back home to pack up for a new and exciting chapter in their lives. They wrote extensively about their journey, and you can read their blog here.
Even though we only spent a couple weeks bumming around on the beach with them well over a year ago, I can’t even tell you how excited I was to see them—what a feeling of long lost friendship regained! I met Karla when she was still wearing her seasickness patch. We stranded ourselves and the kids in our dinghies on Stocking Island like the two helpless women we were then. When I saw her this week, she was an experienced sailor who had crossed an ocean. My admiration could not be greater. The kids, of course, were thrilled to see each other again, and, like only boat kids can, they picked up right where they left off.
When we met, Karla was just getting started—both as a sailor and a homeschool mom. She asked all sorts of questions when we got together. This time, I was the one in awe, asking all sorts of questions. How had the journey changed them as individuals? As a family? How did the kids do on the long passages? Were they ever afraid? What is it like to cross an ocean? Would you do it again? How on earth did you survive without a watermaker?
After a big brunch where we began to cover the above topics whirlwind-fashion, I had the insightful treat of watching Karla do the dishes. I had cheated and used paper plates, but there was still an average-size mess in the galley. I could not believe how little water she used! With the new water meter Jay installed, I can actually see the tanks draining during dish-duty and it is shocking how much water I use. I have been getting steadily better (now that I can budget based on measurable amounts) but Karla was amazing. I guess that’s how you make it without a desalinator. Granted, we have a lot more people aboard who need showers and clean clothes and washed dishes, but still, I learned a few tricks that should help out with water conservation.
One of the things Sebastian said was that they had a new respect for the scarce resources we appreciate so abundantly in this country, simple things like water, fresh food and access to health care. If you woke up this morning in America, you have opportunities that few around the world enjoy. They also said they really appreciate natural beauty, and have a newfound desire to protect it. We felt the same way when we would go to a beautiful ocean beach in the Bahamas only to find it littered with the detritus of modern civilization—thousands of pieces of plastic in all shapes and sizes. When I asked about the daunting task of making an ocean passage, Sebastian said it’s just like any other passage, only longer. If you’re making a one day passage, the last couple of hours are the hardest, and if you’re crossing an ocean the last couple of days are hardest. You get into a normal rhythm at sea, just like you do on land.
They drew several conclusions from their journey which have inspired us to keep going and to try to get back “out there.” First, that raising a family on the boat is a great idea. Ideally, they will buy another boat someday and give the kids a chance to travel again when they are a little older—Sebastian has a circumnavigation dream. Second, the simple life is worth pursuing. “Really, what do you need?” Sebastian asked Jay. Living at the dock is a lot like living in a neighborhood—once you’re “plugged in” you get comfortable and begin to think that you need things, but those things don’t really make you happy. We are still trying to leave (Lord willing) because we have suddenly been reminded that there is a wild and free life waiting for us beyond the horizon.