Sea change

three people on the bow of a sailboat

Our language is full of words and phrases drawn from maritime origins. Whether you’re hoping to be on an even keel, can’t fathom what that is, or simply need Dutch courage to ask – terms with nautical roots pepper our everyday lexicon. The one most present on Totem lately: sea change. Thank Shakespeare for the term that literally referred to change wrought by the sea, which has evolved to refer to almost any change.

Recent milestones for Totem’s crew prompt reflections on our own sea changes. We recently turned our 4,000th day since sailing away from Eagle Harbor. Later this month we cross into our 12th year of cruising. I write this on the 24th anniversary of the day Jamie and I married.

Jamie and a small friend: somewhere in Baja

Other significant changes mark this past year, and loom in the next. We graduated a boat kid, and subsequently realized a significant shift in boat dynamics, space, and grocery bill! While Totem cruises Mexico’s the Sea of Cortez this summer, Niall went from a successful freshman year at Lewis & Clark to a great summer job as a deckhand with Uncruise Adventures. On our weekly call last Saturday, he wondered how hard it would be to return to land when classes start again this month…navigating his own changes now.

Not Baja! Our son Niall’s summer view, from the skiff he drives at Uncruise.
Sitting with Mum on Bainbridge Island, last week

Last week I flew home to help with family to address another encompassing sea change: addressing health problems stemming from my mother’s progressive dementia. Over months last year, our family circled around to support my father in transitioning my mother from their home into the memory care residence she needed. Embarking on the cruising life as a thirty-something mother of littles, this wasn’t a chapter I considered: I’m grateful for the proximity that lets me help during a difficult shift.

Sea change I’m especially excited about: joining Cruising World as a regular contributor! Watch this space for details. The publication aptly described as “your passport to exploring the world’s coastlines and oceans while voyaging under sail” – a sweet match for our own goals – we look forward to sharing Totem’s blog and more through Cruising World’s magazine and website.

Further sea change is expected in the year ahead. Ten years after sailing from Mexico to the Marquesas, we’ll set off again next spring with French Polynesia in sight. In 2010, I was grateful for a third adult to ease the demands of parenting with watchkeeping; now, those children have grown into able crew. This, too, is another sea change of sorts in our family. One crew fledged and pointing for blue horizons again, there will be no confusing our goals with chalking up a circumnav.

Contemplating sea changes may be a defensive response to the comparably fixed months we’re facing. Totem will shortly haul again at Puerto Peñasco’s Cabrales Shipyard. In the Sonora desert. At the peak of summer heat. Yes, it will be hard. And it’s grounded in our priorities: working together as a family with an eye on our better future together, weathering sea changes as they come.

Alternate view of top image: our family silhouetted on the bow as mobula rays swim past Totem’s anchor chain.

19 Responses

  1. Great blog!! Looking forward to your articles in Cruising World, congratulations on that. Longtime readers of your blog and book “Voyaging With Kids” and using all of this information while we evaluate setting sail ourselves. Facebook, Instagram and YouTube at LaTour the World!!

    1. Thank you, from your newest instagram follower! I’m so glad you’ve found VWK helpful for your prep. Hit me up if you’ve got questions about how to go cruising!

      1. We will absolutely be looking to join up with you guys in your Lifestyle Coaching program…hopefully sooner than later!!

  2. Life is constantly changing, forcing shifts in us and our priorities…well said, Totem. Can’t wait for your regular contributions in CW!!

  3. Changes, positive or less so are difficult and you sour family seems t “weather” them beautifully. Thank you for this engaging and thoughtful post. Congratulations on the magazine gig! Your writing should be seen by as many as possible because it is always a joy to read.

  4. Oh my gosh! I look forward to reading you in Cruising World and following you and your family around the world.

  5. Always happy when Sailing Totem appears in my email inbox. Sea change, wabi sabi, we are always in transition. Blessings to the Totem crew. ❤️

  6. Hello all. Good to hear from you and appreciate your reflections. I appreciate the feelings regarding your Mom and Dad. I went through that whole journey with my Mom. Now, at 77, I am beginning to experience some of the “rough seas” aboard the Dementia myself. Thank you for all you have shared with us and I always wish you good sailing and fair weather. Gregg

    1. Ah Gregg, I’m sorry to hear that! But how lucky to start with awareness of the situation to be deliberate about your path ahead, it’s something my mother was never able to have.

  7. Oh My love love love hearing about Sailing Totem and all what sea “see” changes happening. Congrats to Niall for his first great year of college. So happy for him and ya’ll. Keep on life’s journeys to ya’ll. Hugs from Raven and Coyote XOXOXO

  8. Beautifully wriiten, and helpful, as I contemplate the sea changes in my own life and in the lives of my loved ones. Excited for you as you step through new doors of creativity on the pages of CW. Blessings to your family, Totem, as you continually bless our community.

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