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Leaving Death Row

My latest milestone of getting the boat put back in the water is one I won’t quickly forget.

Talking to other sailors, reading articles about it, and watching videos of peoples experiences splashing their boats, it obvious that it is a special, and anxious thing.

For me it is an emotional milestone because of the work I have put into her and the personal journey that this all is. She isn’t just a boat. She is my project.

When I was a kid I had a difficult time. Safe was not a feeling in enjoyed often. My refuge of safety was retreating into my own bubble. When my father left (number 2) he left 1/2 a set of tools. I took over a walk-in closet in the basement of the house and that was my workshop for my 1/2 set of tools. I constantly tinkered on my bicycle. I would take it apart and put it back together. Then I would ride it and convince myself that I needed to do it again. I would go deep inside my head, inside my own space. I would tune out the fear and tune into my ability to work on my project.

When I was a little older my mother moved us out into the deeper suburbs with number 3 and she bought me a small dirt bike. It was my dream to have a motorcycle for as long as I can remember. It remains the single most impactful gift I have ever received. There was a lot of space to ride. The garage of the new house was my new safe space. My new closet.

I collected more tools over time to complete the set and I constantly tinkered on my motorcycle. As my brother ran into the fire of his teen years like a Tasmanian devil, I ran the other way into my own space. My project.

Fast forward from those teen years to my 50s. My personal life hit a pretty strong storm and it brought back many thoughts of not feeling safe. A need to retreat. A need for a project.

I’m not saying it’s a healthy response but it’s what I do. And so I did. I bought my boat without a survey. I bought her knowing there was much that I didn’t know. It wasn’t the most pragmatic thing to do but one thing is for sure. She is a project.

So having spent the last 2 years working on her I pulled the trigger and requested the marina to put her back in the water. I considered delaying it. I was nervous. Am I ready? Do I want to take the bike out of the closet yet? But my better thoughts prevailed and told me to trust myself. Trust that it will be ok. Put the boat in the water. Get her to float. Then focus on the next milestone. Get her sailing.

It is movement forward. It is riskier to have her floating at the dock as opposed to sitting on the hard. It is swagger. It is motivation to continue to get her ready.  I mean come on.. she is in the water. Get her sailing! Keep going bud.

She Floats

The closet is now much bigger. It’s the Chesapeake Bay and beyond. I have a lot still to do but it’s a win and it feels really really good.

The work done so far has been good work and she is back where she is more comfortable. In the water, encouraging me to continue to bring her back to the yacht she is. And I can trust that I will. I trust that I can.

My bubble has been expanding. It includes people like you now, reading this and sharing in my journey. Thanks for that. I’m starting to feel safe. Splash day was special. I hope yours was or will be to.


Mike D. is the founder of Sail Junky Magazine. Striving to find more purpose in life, Mike writes and shares about his journey to rediscover his passion for living a fulfilled life, especially through the medium of sailing.

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