Stories told by Alaskans explain the island of Chichagoff to have at least 1 grizzly bear, if not more, per square mile. “There use to be more,” explained a friend “but one year many of them died while hibernating because of the lack of food to support them all. Does the land belong to them, or to us? Or are we just a part of nature as they are? In Alaska, we share the space. And me, I give them a lot of space. Oh pretty bear that could crush me in a second, I’m just passing on by. You stay there. Good… and I’ll just mosey on by!
How do 2 landlocked lovers end up wanting to sail around the world starting in Alaska? Well, that's a long story. The more important question is, how insane do you have to be to buy a sailboat in Alaska, not knowing how to sail, and taking it out for the first time in April?
“Rob! What do we do?” As the howling twenty-five knot winds tilted our live-a-board sailboat to a very uncomfortable angle that made it feel like we were going to sink the boat we had just bought.
“Turn away from the wind, Megan!” He yelled across the deck as he was trying to figure out what else to do with the sails.
I turned the boat as the master handler had commanded and I felt the boat tip even more. “That doesn't make any sense!” I yelled with all my might thinking Mr. Captain had completely lost his mind.
Our deck was approaching a 90 degree angle to the water, and within the next moment the prevailing winds whipped us around in a circle and we lost complete control of our steering. I jumped on the outside of the life lines and was hanging on like a frozen icicle as the surging waves slammed into our boat.
When the boat faced the wind, it popped back up. Within the next few seconds, that comfortable moment was soon lost as the sails filled with wind and threw us into an uncontrollable whirling motion. The third time around, I grabbed the helm and pointed the boat into the wind as Rob dropped both sails. This allowed us to gain control and keep the wind from twirling us.
The first and most important lesson learned: When all hell breaks loose, point the boat into the wind and drop the sails!
The only problem now, is that we were bobbing around in plaguing seas like a toy boat in the hands of a two year old. We quickly turned on our little 16 horse powered engine and uncomfortably motored through the chop. The constant flow of massive adrenaline pumping through our veins made our stomachs feel like we were on the verge of feeding the fish. After an hour, we reached the other channel and were able to motor through calmer seas. We may just live! Relief and calmness started to enter our emotions.
VRRRRRMM as we watched a big power boat fly past us about ready to hit the 6 foot chop. “Boy, they're brave!” In another 2 seconds, we watched them fly over the waves like a rocket catching air into space. They quickly turned around to avoid their fate in that given direction. Our laughter filled the boat as we knew exactly what they had just been through.
It was a quick learning curve.
We're mad. We're completely mad. Mad enough to cut the rat race and invest in the rest of our lives at sea. But isn't this the beginning to every good story? After a summer filled with trials, learning experiences, and epic adventures we still wouldn't go back.
Witnessing the never ending colorful sunsets that shape the entire hemisphere. Watching the humpback whales jet their entire 75,000 pound bodies out of the inland waters. Listening to the sound of calving glaciers as the crumbling echos throughout the carved rock canyon. Experiencing a pod of Dahl's Porpoises riding our bow as if we were the mother ship leading their journey. Sneaking up on a giant grizzly as he ran in fear after looking up to see a canvassed white monster floating his way. Soaking in a hot springs only accessible by riding bicycles through bear country. Lounging on the warm sunny days, and skinny dipping in the frigid waters.
That's only the first 6 months of boat life. Now we look at the stationary residences on land and can't comprehend going back. We are mad and we want to stay this way. Our mission is for people to think for themselves and live passionately, to be the change they want to see, to live healthy and sustainably. This kind of madness is worth living for. Home is where the anchor drops.
Where are we currently?