The blog post I never wanted to write

Our arrival into Bermuda is late, under cover of darkness, we get towed in through St Georges harbour, to the customs dock because of a fouled prop. We are surprised to find the customs office still open. We check in at 11 pm, totally wiped but the customs officials are welcoming and kind. The tow boat is able to take us off the dock and bring Ingomar to the anchorage where we finally set the anchor down. A good long sleep is the thing we desire more than anything. And so we sleep, a solid and sound slumber. We finally are roused by the sounds outside our boat and climb up to blinding sunlight to catch our first real glimpse of Bermuda. It is a beautiful place and we decide to head into shore and explore.


Before we can head into shore we have to do some tidying up, cover the sails, get the dinghy in the water and oh yeah, clear the rope and net from our prop. Al dives to find… nothing. Whatever happened between the tow last night and this morning, the net is gone! We finally head in around noon to grab a bite and check our email.


When I was planing our trip, contemplating if we could do it, weighing whether we could manage to swing a whole year off, without a care in the world, the only thing that made me pause for one second was my Mom. I did not care about money, pensions, houses, healthcare, jobs, risk, weather, blah, blah, blah. The one thing that made me uncertain about leaving was my Mom. She was 90 years of age and had been diagnosed with cancer a couple of years back. I was struggling with leaving, I thought I should be there for her.

I talked to her about my dilemma and she said, and I quote, “Sure Tess, you can’t live your life waiting around for someone to die, you have to go out and live your own.” And with that I kissed and hugged her, put both feet in and jumped. From the very beginning, she was a constant cheerleader, commenting on my Facebook posts. She also made her first blog comment, not bad for 90 years. She was the main reason I started the blog, so she could follow along with our vagabond ways. I called her whenever I could and she filled my head with praises and my heart with love, reassuring me constantly that I had made a good decision. I looked forward to my dose of Vitamin G – goodness and gumption! Talking with her was exhilarating, she was so positive.

Around Easter she began to fade and quickly declined, faster than I could comprehend, understand or truly wanted to believe. It was the main reasons we had left St. Martiin early and with some trepidation I checked my messages that afternoon in Bermuda. As I read through them, my worries were confirmed, my mother’s condition had worsened.

I called her, we chatted and she told me not to come back, that she was being cared for and there was nothing I could do. I talked with my amazing siblings, who were giving her the best care, at her home. No one could say how long she had. Al and I discussed it and decided to leave Bermuda the next day and head for Newport rather than Halifax. We figured if we got a jump on it we’d make it in 4-5 days, then fly to Newfoundland from Newport. But the universe doesn’t always work the way you wish or need. Closing in on Newport with less than 24 hours to port, we learned that she died that morning.

I had dreamed about returning and living with her for the summer, sharing my stories and photos, playing Rachel Ray for her (her favourite nickname for me) and helping her in her garden. I even learned her favourite song on the guitar. It was a love song really that summed up the relationship between she and Dad, a love they shared for 62 years.

We had 140 nautical miles to get to Newport but it felt like a million miles.

We arrived in Newport very early morning and picked up a mooring ball. Nancy, Mike and Lexi were incredibly helpful getting our checklist done before departing. We packed Filbert into his carrier and arrived at Boston airport in time for a flight to Newfoundland. When we finally landed in St. John’s early morning, and I was reunited with my family, the world began to feel OK again.

We spent 10 days in Newfoundland, and our family truly celebrated my mothers life. She was an amazing woman, a force, a wellspring of love and inspiration. How lucky we all were to have had her for so long. Among her many talents, she was a master gardener but it wasn’t only flowers she grew and nurtured, she was a cultivator of love. It thrived and bloomed all around her, and everyone within her grasp felt its glow.

The Downside

One aspect of the cruisers life, is you leave a life behind you, full of people you care about. Life continues without you, babies are born, milestones are measured and loved ones pass on. There is a trade off for getting to run away and live freely without worries or cares. Sometimes the dice don’t roll in your favour. Life is never free entirely of burdens, but you make a choice and in the end you must live with them.

Mom and I had an understanding, a mutual agreement about this adventure. She told me when she hugged me on her lawn, the day we departed in July, surrounded by her flowers, that this would probably be our final goodbye. I nodded and agreed but in my back pocket, I planned otherwise. Yet silly me to think, I had the upper hand on my sage and savvy mother. She was always smarter than me, more in tune with the universe and prescient. I believe she knew that farewell would be our last goodbye and she was good with it. If I had known that would I have left? No, but life didn’t turn out that way. We both fully comprehended the choice I was making. Yet, she knew how much I appreciated and admired her. No words were left unspoken between us.

Still, this is the one blog post I wish I never had to write.