One of the hardest parts of cruising is being far away from people we love. It’s especially hard to be far away and during their times of need, when we can’t be present with support. But we also miss sharing everyday experiences: the laughs and events, celebratory or ordinary, that build memories with our faraway friend and family.
During our big road trip last month, the focus was on family—namely, spending time with Jamie’s aunt and uncle, who came to South Africa as expatriates in the 1970s. They fell in love with the country, and have made Johannesburg their home. The time with them was a precious, and we sank into the chance to build memories together. It’s priceless to have them pass on stories to the kids, like how Jamie threw up on Clyde some years back (he WAS only nine months old at the time), or tell them about their great grandmother’s paintings, or their childhood memories of the kids’ grandparent’s hometown. Jamie’s dad has opted out of participating in our lives, and we lost his mother to cancer more than a decade ago, so there aren’t a lot of opportunities for our children to hear stories of their grandparent’s generation and build a sense of belonging with this side of their family history.
With barely any need for discussion, this prompted a decision to get back to the USA on a fast track. Jamie has another aunt and uncle in Rhode Island; we want to build more memories with them, too, while we can. The last time we visited relatives in New England was in 2009, and the kids were a LOT smaller then! We’d like the kids to spend time with their cousin in Boston as well; she’s grown a lot since they first met her in Thailand two years ago. There are so many faces we’d like to see again.
Of course, “fast track” is a very relative description, because this IS a sailboat and there are seasons to respect! We expected to cross the Atlantic early next year, but our original thinking was to wait below the hurricane belt in South America and spend next winter in the Caribbean before wandering north. But that wouldn’t put us in the USA until 2017, which is suddenly too far away. Now, we expect to be in New England by the 4th of July.
It will be a lot of miles (a straight line from Cape Town to Boston is over 7,700 miles… we will have to sail quite a few more than that). There are many details to work out. But this feels good. And while we’re going home, I need to be clear: it is for a visit, and not for good. Our cruising days, we hope, are far from over! There are no compromises here, except to skip past places we’d like to spend time in…and Brazil isn’t going anywhere. And meanwhile, it’s time for dose of the home that the kids can barely remember.
It’s kind of wild to think about: six months ago, we were in Chagos…six months from now, for the first time in eight years we’ll be back in the USA. It makes my head spin, but mostly, with excitement about what lies ahead.