my shipwreck, May 16th, 2011…

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the shipwreck my family and I experienced two years ago yesterday, and I found the first email I sent to a fellow multihull sailor, on May 17, 2011.  I suppose it’s fitting that the email itself was written two years ago today, and I’d like to post it here.  For a matter of recording it publicly, for other people who have gone through shipwrecks, for all people who love living on boats and understand what it’s like, and lastly, for myself, to help me let go a little more, because I totally have NOT let go completely yet.  I’m still uncomfortable living on land, and I miss our boat every day.  I miss the sea every day.

I miss it so much, I ended up writing about the sea again in a YA novel I just finished, but this time I wrote about sailing, too, which has brought up the memories more vividly than usual.

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Here’s my email recollection of the shipwreck (the name of the friend I wrote to is omitted for privacy):

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…It’s really really bad.  Both her AMA keels were ripped out, one AMA has a whole chunk missing. The middle hull walls were moving as her floor flooded up to the seats we straddled as we pulled together the most important parts of our stuff.  Shes really broken apart.  Rob is pretty convinced she can’t be repaired.

Her whole structure collapsed under the waves pounding her and spinning her on the beach.  Our stuff was scattered along the shore like the remains of a too real shipwreck.  4 miles out on a shoal where the gps thought it should be 11 feet of water.  There were a thousand forewarnings and a thousand horrible and good reasons seemed to come together to make this happen.

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We are so in shock.

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We really didn’t mean to dream of a new boat and then NEED it so suddenly.  I know it wasn’t like no smoking just offed herself, though.  Inside, I feel she knew we loved her. She wanted to be ours.  But those waves just smashed her around us while we stood inside clenched and holding her while feeling each pound of That Great Mother shattering the world we made our home, where we planned to begin raising our son.

*

I was doubtful a little about building a catamaran or even living on a boat forever, but this has shown me by that first step onto the cold hard beach, down from that butterfly of a boat that was broken, that maybe I am a sailor after all.

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But shipwrecks seemed so much more romantic before.  When I saw her keels laying hundreds of feet down that sandy beach, I saw them as body parts and no smoking was a person.  A creature that was broken partly because of our fears of a coming storm and our overlooking of our instincts.  Deep down, I knew that inlet couldn’t be trusted, but my fears of the storm and false thinking that we might reach it before dark made me say, let’s go.  We both had navigated Atlantic city twice, in fog and in rough waves, but WE also didn’t want to turn around, even just 10 miles or so…so hard to think of all the tiny things that made such loss happen.

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I’m wishing right now for a canal boat, ANY boat, to begin the baby raising. I can’t wait for years to float again…God, land is so hard.  So still it feels unnatural. Unfeeling. Uncradling.

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I’ve definitely learned that the ocean can be so fucking scary, but a boat was built for it, built to float…of course land is the hazard, not really the waves or the sea.  It’s the places where they meet that both protect and threaten our boats.  Like any place where two worlds meet, it should be approached with respect and caution, or left alone (especially if you cannot SEE it for what it IS).  We could never have avoided that beach…the fog left, the channel had markers that were not on the charts, and then as soon as we were past the breakers, going 8 knots just to maintain control, the fog came back and Rob shouted at me to go to the bow but our lights wouldn’t have shown us that shoal in time.

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I think you must understand how tragically awful this feels.  It was our home so briefly but a home we made right as we married, our first home together as husband and wife…so many dreams were in those hulls and now we are homeless, and I don’t think we can possibly go to Block Island without living on a boat there…so we’re stuck.  Literally shipwrecked on land…no idea where to go and piles of debts just following along like chains and anchors we can’t use any longer. What can we anchor now?  How do we find peace?

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Sorry I’m going on a bit, somehow I can only say all this to you right now…too devastated to talk to anyone who doesn’t really comprehend living inside a boat like this.  What it does to you and how it strips you of all you thought you were and shows you who you really ARE.

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I’m so sorry for your sickness, yuck and I do understand!  I grew to love vomiting on the boat cause I just lean over the side of the deck and the sea swallows it for me.  I guess she has finally gotten me back for all that vomit during my first trimester, huh? Ohhhhh.

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Every other thought in our heads is a broken dream and broken home right now. The moon shining overhead, just watching.  Illuminating the edges of these memories so they glow, but not in glory.

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Okay.  Must sleep. My stomach is flipping in circles and the baby either completely understands or doesn’t have a clue as to what is making mommy so completely freaked out and hurting so deeply.

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Wishing all sailors right now fair winds…and I’ll see you soon upon the waves.

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