We are back on the boat. It was another total mind bender of a travel day complete with a seven hour layover in Ft. Lauderdale, but I'll spare you the details since I already complained about our flight to Chicago. I will say thank God my mom was with me this time, just having two extra arms to help wrangle Isla was a huge, colossal help.
We are back on the boat and, wow, it suddenly hit me that this is home. Sure, we've been living aboard for the better part of six months but coming back this time it really felt like "home". Seeing our beautiful boat as we approached in the water taxi, going down her companionway to see everything just how I left it, stowing our new goodies away...it all felt so right. Isla was visibly excited to be back in her element as well; her smiles and zealous crawling up and onto everything while beaming at me with a "look momma, we're back" face made that clear. I was a little concerned she'd feel trapped by the confines of our boat since she clearly enjoyed walking in the wide open spaces of my parent's house, but nope - she jumped right back into life aboard without a hitch. I let out a big, sigh of relief as I put away the last of our things and reveled in the comforts of being home.
I wondered: when does the transition happen? When does the place you live suddenly feel like "home"?
While many landlubbers who are used to the creature comforts of terra firma cannot possibly imagine how a (relatively) small sail boat could ever feel like a home, for most of us who live aboard it's just the opposite. We become incredibly attached to our vessels, and it happens pretty quickly. We trust them with our lives and, over time, make them our own. While a boat might not have the nicest linens, cushions and decor of a land home - this lifestyle is rich in other ways: new faces, exotic places, interesting cuisines and the daily challenges of a nomadic lifestyle. Cruising is full of moments that make "creating memories" easy. High highs, low lows, storms and calms...we navigate ourselves and our boats through them all. Sure, this feeling of "home" is helped tremendously by the fact that we put our own our blood, sweat and tears into our boat. And of course our little personal touches throughout help with that "homey" feeling - but the emotion is tied largely to the experiences and not things.
This transition, however, was not instant. There were so many times we questioned our decision; I often wondered if we'd love this boat like we loved our first, and - being a little more seasoned this time around - we were much more critical and skeptical about everything. We'd make comparisons between this boat and our last, and - unlike our last boat - the love affair was not instant, but grew over time. Even now, I have returned to a boat with a few leaky portholes and a new colony of cockroaches (despite two rounds of bug bombs while I was away) which is no fun. A few months ago, I might have cursed this boat for these things. But now it's par for the course. She's not perfect, but she's home. And we love her, flaws and all.
I'm not exactly sure when it happened, this metamorphosis to unconditional love, but it's a nice place to be. Home.
HUGE thank you to our good friends on s/v Necess for making sure our boat was in ship shape while we were away.