Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Our New Boat, Sonder, is Homeward Bound: How Hurricane Irma Took but also Gave

I got little choked up as I re-read Scott's last "I love you message" as he sailed out of cell reach this morning.  The culmination of six months of shock, anguish, gratitude, uncertainty, stress, exciting new beginnings and heart breaking disappointments suddenly bubbled up as it dawned on me that - finally - things are starting to come together. Part of the emotion, of course, is also a healthy dose of anxiety around the fact that Scott will be largely out of communication for the next ten days as he sails our new home offshore with his trusty crew of two. I will be getting daily "we are okay" or "send help" messages that will come through our basic but effective satellite communication system on board, but not much more than that. Long time readers know I am, and have always been, a professional worrier when it comes to boating. The trepidation is compounded after having been affected so completely by Hurricane Irma; we are now closely associated with loss and intimately aware of how quickly things can change. I'm trying to push those thoughts out of my head and keep a positive outlook, but I'd like the next ten days to hurry up and be here.


Anxiety aside, my heightened emotional state was also out of sheer joy that finally we will have our very own home again and, after spending almost half of the last six months apart, ours will be a (more consistently) two-parent family. While I am very accustomed to solo parenting our three girls, it's not always easy and sometimes can get downright ugly (ask me about how many balls I drop on a daily basis). Daddy being a regular presence and influence around here will be SO welcome. The fact that Scott is also sailing our dream boat (and home) back to us is also quite incredible and surreal. Scott and I have been dreaming of owning a Hallberg-Rassy 46 since we owned our very first Hallberg-Rassy, Rasmus. The other week, in fact, a blog follower wrote me with the screenshot of a three year old Facebook post in which I had posted a picture of a Hallberg-Rassy 46 and wrote, "One day we *will* have this boat". I have no recollection of putting it out there like that, but I did, and if that isn't a point for how the Universe works and manifestation, I don't know what is. 

The truth is, for as much as Hurricane Irma took from us and all the stress she bestowed on our family, she gave us so much as well. Not only do we now own the boat of our dreams - an ironic turn of events that is not lost on us - but we have made some truly incredible new friendships that began and grew because of the storm. We are under contract on a new boat better suited for our daysail company, and every single day I am so grateful that we are able to live on the island we love, slowly putting the pieces of our life and business back together with some amazing people in our corner. People hear our story and often express sorrow for us. I am the first one to say, "NO! Please do not!" While obviously we'd have preferred Irma to have not upturned our life and those of so many others, we are some of the really, really lucky ones. We had insurance for both our home boat and business boats, we were paid our claims in full, we had a nice chunk of money saved in the bank, did not have to endure the horror of a Cat 5 hurricane with our kids, and we had the open arms and incredible generosity of friends and family to fall back on when we were lost...we were and are FINE. There are others who were - and continue to be - way worse off. Our hearts go out to those people who continue to suffer and who's lives have been changed irrevocably. We are not those people. We took a hit, for sure, and our path and inner-selves are forever altered by the events of the 2017 hurricane season, but we are back and - ultimately - stronger for it. Irma, it seems, might just have changed us and our lives for the better...

Our new boat, after much research and deliberation, has been named Sonder; the suggestion of my good friend Christel from Stell and Snuggs (the merry family of roving sailboat musicians). We loved it immediately. Our criteria was 1) one word 2) easy to read and pronounce 3) unique and 4) a great meaning behind it. Sonder is a sort-of made up word from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows (fascinating and worth a gander) and means:
Sonder: n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.
In short, the word means everyone has a story. As both a writer who loves stories and someone who, particularly after Irma, is hyper aware of the fact that we all walk around with a well of stories and scars within us that are not apparent to the naked eye - it just made sense. So s/v Sonder she is.

This story is ours, and today marks the start of a brand new chapter. s/v Sonder is finally homeward bound, and we are so excited for what lies ahead.


  1. I'm glad your home and your hubbie are finally heading your way (along with my hubbie!) Thanks for the photo!

  2. Awwww, so glad to hear that things are really coming together for all of you. I'm sure you and the girls can hardly stand the wait until you're all back together. I'm not sure that I would even be able to function in your situation because I'd be so excited!!

  3. I am so very happy to read this! And cannot wait to see your happy face in person! With a cocktail.

  4. Love. Love this post. Love that you have your dream home/boat. I really love the name. Kristi in LV

  5. I am so happy and so excited for you all. I *will* visit you all one day and see Sonder in person. You hear that, Universe?! Love you, girl.

  6. Ralf, SY Flora3/14/18, 4:21 AM

    Love the boat and the name. Perfect choice.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Wow!that's amazing and helps believing that dreams do come true and bad events can lead to happy outcomes :)

  9. This is another great chapter in your book of life! Very happy for you guys!

  10. You are so awesome! I do not think I've truly read through anything like this before.
    So nice to find somebody with some unique thoughts on this issue.

    Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This website is one thing that is
    needed on the web, someone with some originality!

  11. Super congrats, very happy for you guys. I hitched a ride on an HR46 for a short passage in Fiji last year and really loved it, just a solid, good-feeling vessel--and so pretty. All the best, Michael

  12. In German, sonder per se isn’t a word commonly in use any more, but some combinations might be of interest to you.

    Should you have a bar on board, it would be the Sonderbar, which is a common word with a meaning you might identify with:

    In case your Sonder is involved in a fall, you’d get another common german word Sonderfall: https://dict.leo.org/englisch-deutsch/sonderfall

    In French sonder is a verb meaning to probe.

    Just as a fun information


  13. Happy to hear you've found a beautiful boat and are doing well. Look forward to following your family's adventure on Sounder!

  14. Yeah, that universe... Great name!!!

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  20. Wow a beautiful boat! Look forward to following your family's adventures.

  21. Life goes on. Hope everything is better these days even after the separation and all the associated problems. I wish you the best in every venture.


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