Presence-ing November 2016
My last update was February, 2016. Quite a lot has happened since then!
In early March Leigh and I got the boat out of US waters, to the Bahamas. We did well for novice sailors, covering about 900 miles in 3 1/2 months in a loop from near Miami to Bimini, Andros, New Providence, the Exumas, Cat Island, Eleuthera, the Abacos and back to FL. We experienced everything you'd imagine: so much raw beauty, new friends, crystalline warm water, all kinds of weather, repairs, fish, frustrations, successes, failures and humblings. I can't even begin to sum it up. Videos 041 to 052 at https://www.youtube.com/user/presencingly give some sense of it. I also posted a YouTube series on Madagascar if that interests you.
We motor sailed the IntraCoastal Waterway north from FL. The diesel engine, troublesome since the Abacos and despite my and many others' diagnosis and repair attempts, finally failed a few miles from our home port. I'll replace it with an outboard. We were towed the last 8 miles. I felt exhausted and defeated.
So there we were: At a slip in Brunswick, GA, mid June on a disabled boat, free beer and wine, punishing sun, heat and humidity fast approaching, and a long list of repairs. The only sane option for me was to get off the boat to someplace terrestrial and cool. I looked to the southern hemisphere (mid winter there!) and settled on New Zealand: a bucket list first world country, a favorable exchange rate, English speaking, and plenty to explore. I rented a campervan and slowly wandered the country for the next four months seeing, well, almost everything on both the North and South Islands. I love rain, weather, geology, oceans, creatures, history and green. A mobile man-cave was very healing for me.
Leigh was called differently. She spent two months preparing with cleansing diets, art, exercise and yogas, culminating with 2 weeks of plant medicine work in Pisac, Peru. Then back to the states for a week before joining me on South Island, New Zealand.
Leigh and I had been apart for 3 months. We'd both been doing our respective work, in very different ways. We were so eager to see each other, live! I can't convey the depth or magnitude of Leigh's transformation. We were such excited children, exploring each other, the glaciers, fijords, spas, forests, beaches and loving the penguins! A delightful 6 weeks of NZ springtime without agenda in the campervan. (I haven't done any YT videos yet.)
We're finally back in the US. I checked on the boat in GA and it survived hurricane Matthew. If the 10' storm surge had hit only a few hours earlier or later, she'd be lost. The repairs await my attention.Leigh found a place for us through connections in the sailing community. It is in the high desert SE of Tucson. Towering 8,000' mountains and cliffs out the back door. Cool, clear and dry. Some good paragliding sites are nearby. Oh, to get back in the air! We may do some backpacking. I'm now catching up on long overdue business, family visits and reconnecting with you.
The plan was to work on the boat this winter and sail north to Maine in the spring and summer. There are a few moments that have profoundly shifted me: being burned, Kennedy's assassination, the first moon landing, finding the mangled body of a woman killed by a hit and run driver, 9/11, my first trip to India, working at Folsom prison, my 7th trip to India, and this election.
I don't know what's next.
This note barely skims a lot of ground. But now I'd love to hear from YOU about anything and everything! Sailing, living aboard, personal work, New Zealand, the high desert, boat projects, the election, paragliding, business, new adventures, all of it!
Brian & Dr. Leigh Jacobs
It has been 10 months since we moved aboard Presence-ing. This is a very raw life, living on the water. Everything moves. There is an ever present sense of 'adventure'. It can be enlivening, or wearing. Sometimes I experience things as simply a hassle. Right now we do not have a car or our bicycles. We either walk, use an Uber or Lyft car, a rental car, or rely on the kindness of friends.
If this is such a chore, why am I here? Why do this? My need is to experience life more directly. I need to feel life more fully. I need to be challenged to be aware of my situation and respond. In this challenge I grow. I need to connect to the elements. It is humbling. I see that I am so dependent on others, those that have gone before me. I feel gratitude. I want to give back. I want to help. All these things arise spontaneously because I'm in this situation of rawness, of exposure, of discomfort, of growth.
Am I trying to prove something? A classic battle of man against nature? No. This is about respect and harmony. Working with what is given (wind, waves, sunlight, water,), adapting what I have (duct tape, imagination), and the kindness, help and gifting of others.
I know that the near disasters (hitting a piling on the ICW, the anchor rode breaking in the tornado last week) are good for me. I see what could have happened, and what did happen. The imperative to be more here, more conscious, is being pressed further and harder. The way it happens for me right now is in this environment.
When I see or talk to other sailors I identify with our shared vulnerability. We're in this together. A community. We know what we're risking. For some, we know we must. We don't have to talk about it. On the water, life, and risk, is amplified. Concentrated. Eau de life.
We've been in quiet, remote, still anchorages, traveled in fog, been through a Navy base, heavy rain, 30Kts wind, saw a rocket launch at Cape Canaveral, mega-mega yachts, so many things. Please see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yApMdc_9sLE and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pix9ReExTmk
We're now at anchor about 350 miles south of Brunswick, GA and the weather is much different: often high humidity and usually tropical weather. We do feel the effects of cold fronts that pass north of us which can produce strong weather. A tornado touched down not far from us last week. It was a 'real danger' situation. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCzrHJ3bnPk . (During the first tornado we were docked. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzJuw51EwiI )
I recognize my sailing experience is not deep enough to competently handle some of the waters we want to get into. I've put out the word for experienced people (maybe some readers of this letter?) to come aboard for a number of days and teach us. Real sailing with wind and main and genoa. We want to practice reefing and furling and trimming and man overboard drills and all that goes into the glory, fear and exhaustion that goes into real seafaring. For the foreseeable future, nothing requires more than maybe 10 hours of continual sailing. And it could all be done under power. But the point is to extend our range and capabilities.
I'm still working, finding ways to give back. As you know, this letter, and the videos, is part of that. I hope some are motivated to act, to participate, instead of think. Life waits so patiently for us, doesn't it?
Brian & Dr. Leigh Jacobs
Externally: Time is flying so fast, I feel like I’m in a Star Wars time warp. My last update was yesterday, in October! If you subscribe to my YouTube channel you have an idea of what we’ve been doing. To recap:
We went north to Kitty Hawk (the Wright brothers, remember?), NC. Video here. In Kitty Hawk I completed a number of boat projects. Our friend Dennis joined us there. We took a break from the boat, drove up to NY to see fall colors. It was my first experience of that amazing phenomenon. We had a wonderful passage from Kitty Hawk down to Ocracoke, NC (part of OBX (the Outer Banks). Then a ‘lively’ passage to one of my now favorite places, Oriental, NC. We stayed a few weeks there as I completed more boat projects. In Oriental we prepared for hurricane Javier and thankfully got nothing more than storm surge high enough to cover fixed docks. So that’s what (mild) storm surge is! We eventually got underway again and transited to Charlotte, SC. That passage included a bouncy and exhausting full moon overnighter. Going further south we stopped at nearly deserted Dafuskie Island, and then on to the classic Southern town of Savannah, GA. See quick shots of all this adventure here. And from there on south to Brunswick, GA.
I’d love to have more people aboard. Doing that is a logistical challenge (when? where?), and as a captain I am always concerned about everyone’s safety. As I become more experienced, I’ll be extending more invitations. Let me know if you’re interested!
s/v Presence-ing, Gemini Catamaran, hull 731
PS: I’ve added more clients, colleagues and friends, so you may be getting this letter for the first time. An unsubscribe link is below. Others can subscribe by emailing me.
We’ve been at Brunswick for a few weeks for a few reasons. 1) You guessed it: finish more boat projects! 2) I got some wind and got in some kitesurfing! 3) Avoiding FL sales taxes. (If you’re documented as out of the state for more than 6 months, you’re exempt from sales tax.) 4) Catch up on so many things, like this update to you! Get teeth cleaned! Research our route south! Research the Bahamas! Study! I’ve even taken time to document some of the boat projects, things I’ve learned and mistakes made. Seriously, you gotta check out that link. A life of leisure? Not! It'll give you a another sense of what boat life can be.
Believe it or not, the project list is getting shorter. Many projects can wait for next season. I feel that the boat is more seaworthy and certainly more habitable now.
I’ll be making a quick trip to Southern CA, Northern California, and Oklahoma. Then we start south again. Longer term, I expect to haul the boat out and get into a new environment for the summer, maybe south of the equator.
Internally: It feels good to learn new things and feel a little budding competence. It is a feeling of newness and freshness! The boat is hundreds of pounds lighter. It is simpler, cleaner, and uses less energy than when we bought it. I like all of that. I’m making new friends out here. I haven’t done session work since moving aboard last April, and I hope there’s a way to resume that somehow in this moveable and floating context. So I have a feeling of fresh accomplishment, fear (always!), and missing authentic connection. I’d love to hear from you.
Brian & Dr. Leigh Jacobs