November 3, 2016   Becca Guillote
This article from cruiser, Becca Guillote, was published in the September 2016 48° North.

Whether for a weekend, a week, or even a month, the first few days of any trip involves something of a mental/emotional reset. What does it feel like when it is the first few days of something much, much bigger? Becca and John Guillote have cut the lines and are gone for a multi-year adventure on their Valiant 40, “Halcyon.” Here she shares her experience of their first few days away. They were headed north around Vancouver Island at the time, and have since start making miles southward.


Day 1: I keep waiting for the emotions to kick in. Everyone asks “Are you excited?” “Aren’t you scared?” “What are you most anxious about?” But when I think about leaving, instead of emotions, my head fills with tasks. Call the bank, clean out the car, don’t forget to buy toilet paper. It’s not that I’m devoid of emotion necessarily; it’s that I just don’t seem to get it. I can’t wrap my mind around what it will feel like when we’re gone. That’s how I prepare for an event or a vacation: I picture myself there, going through the day, even the mundane tasks like brushing my teeth. And I get excited because I can imagine the view I will have, the people I will meet, the time I will have to read or relax. But I can’t picture this one. I don’t know what my daily life will look like. So when I talk about it, it feels fake, like I am talking about someone else’s journey.


Day 2: We are motoring up Puget Sound under sunny skies with 2-4 knots of breeze on the nose. Our good friends on Kotuku have joined us for the first leg and we are, as usual, watching their stern get smaller. I make lunch and start a new book. John tinkers with fishing gear and splices an old charging cable. I sit and take stock of my own emotions. This feels like any other weekend trip to Port Townsend, and I try to convince myself it’s not. This time is different; this time we won’t turn back to Seattle in a few days. That evening we say goodbye to Kotuku. I would have kept it together if they had. But the tears flow. Ah ha! Sadness over what we leave behind is certainly the first step towards excitement over what is to come.


Day 3: We wake up still purposely undecided where we will be that night. Stay in Port Townsend? Head for Lopez or Orcas? Or cross into Canada and visit friends in Victoria? We discuss thoughtfully as the fog thickens to inhibit our view of the breakwater 100 feet away. We aren’t going anywhere until that clears. This morning, I can’t knock the nagging anxiety that we must keep moving because soon we will have to turn back. No need to rush, we have no timeline; we can do whatever we want to do today. I repeat this mantra to help it sink in.


Day 4: I am sitting in the cockpit with my notebook and a cup of tea while we swing gently at anchor in Cadboro Bay. It is still and quiet but for the seagulls squawking at the low tide line and a seal pup splashing around beside us. We have deliberately set no agenda for the morning. Out of habit, I grab my phone to check messages but there’s no cell reception here. There’s nothing on there I need to see anyway. I take a deep breath and feel the muscles in my back relax, melting away the first bit of city stress. I think about the days and weeks to come, and picture myself sitting right here, doing just this, in uninhabited coves and pristine bays, and I get just a little bit excited.

Becca and John Guillote are currently making their way south along the southern California coast.  You can follow their travels at