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.

Author: tess

We, Al my husband, Filbert my cat and I, sailed our 37-foot Tartan to the Caribbean from Newfoundland in 2016-2017. We documented it on our blog, Today I continue to write about sailing, improve my photography skills, practice graphic design and dream about sailing.

24 thoughts on “The blog post I never wanted to write”

  1. Hey guys. My deepest condolences to you and yours. As you know we were in Long Hr when you guys were preparing to leave and I vividly remember your Mom that day….a lovely kind woman.

    We will be back in St Johns for three days in late July (25 -27), hopefully we will get a chance to hook up with you guys?!?

    Brian & Mel

  2. Tess, so sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. I lost mine almost two years ago so I can relate to how that feels. The words on this blog as difficult as I know it was to write, are truly beautiful.

  3. So sorry to hear about the loss of your mom Tess. I lost my mother almost two years ago and can so relate. Your words in the blog post are absolutely beautiful.

  4. Tess I finally had a moment to read this blog. Of course it made me shed a tear…but you got it so right. She spoke many times of how happy she was that you had gone off sailing because she felt more joy knowing you did it than if you had not because of her circumstances. So have no fear my sweet. It was so great to see you both. You planned it right and got here at the moment you needed to be home. She loved Al so much. Take care my sweet and safe travels.


    1. Tess I finally had a moment to read this blog. Of course it made me shed a tear…but you got it so right. She spoke many times of how happy she was that you had gone off sailing because she felt more joy knowing you did it than if you had not because of her circumstances. So have no fear my sweet. It was so great to see you both. You planned it right and got here at the moment you needed to be home. She loved Al so much. Take care my sweet and safe travels.


      1. Thanks Gladys, its so nice to hear from you. Mom always reassured me how happy she was for us, and the fact that I was with Al made it that much better 🙂 I love hearing how she talked about our trip, I know she was proud and happy. It was great seeing you and look forward to seeing you again soon. Tess & Al

  5. Tess and family – Be assured Gladys would not have her passing any other way than the way it happened. Love was constantly with you all even when no one was around. Ed and I spent lots of time with her and your Dad over the years – they were always so proud of all of you and spoke so highly of all your achievements. On my last visit with her (Clint and I) approx 3 weeks before she passed, we knew that the hugs on this day would be our last – we shed a few tears before leaving but then we hugged and talked about our everlasting love for each other and all our families. A very dear friend gone to her Eternal Home to be with Jack and Ed and, I am sure, they will never be forgotten! Wonderful memories etched forever! Your Mom spoke of you and Al enjoying your adventure to the utmost, and she felt so good that you were on this special trip. Keep this thought in mind all the time – she wouldn’t have it any other way!
    I was in NB with my sister when my Mom passed and felt sad I wasn’t home to be there with her. There wasn’t anyone only the nurse – she ate her breakfast at 8:30 and 9:15 had a massive heart attack. She was two months away from celebrating her 90th. My brother lived only 5 mins from St. Luke’s Home and he never got there in time. We all spent such quality time with her – people there said the Butland family was like a train – always going and coming to visit so often. She felt so happy when any of us were going on a vacation and always said, “Go while you can, there will be a time when you can’t.” That is so true! Your parents were like that and we have to thank God for all the great times we spent with our parents and siblings. Your family and mine were so fortunate to have such dear parents to love and nurture us and to carry on their legacy in our lives. I will always cherish (and I know Ed did) along with Jacinta, Clint and their families for the wonderful relationships we had with all of you. God Bless, and looking forward to your safe arrival home!

    1. Hi CArm, thanks for the note. Mom, Dad, Ed and yourself had a wonderful friendship and I’m so happy you had a visit with her before she passed away. We are all incredibly fortunate in our lives. Our families have a great connection and always will. Take care!

  6. Tess,

    Life is all about choices. Once you make a decision, there’s no turning back. Mom was supportive of your choice 100%.

    So fitting that you were able to say goodbye to Mom in her garden. She was proud to watch Ingomar sail into the harbour, and wish the crew a Bon voyage.

    Life, as we know it, has changed with the loss of our mother, but we carry on and live to the fullest, as she would’ve wanted.

    Love you,

    1. Ger, I know Mom was fully behind us and that made it so easy to go. Making this decision with her support was so easy. And she knew I was with Al! Love you!

  7. Tess she was so proud of you and Al and admired you for having the courage to just put it all on hold and go .She wouldn’t have it any other way. We knew in our brains that we couldn’t have her forever…we just forgot to tell our hearts. …xox

    1. Hello Agnes and Bas! I can’t tell you how sweet it is to hear from you two. Our AIS is set on a meeting point somewhere in the future with you. I am determined to meet you again. We love you too!

  8. Tess she was so thrilled with the adventure you were on. Every so often she would say she missed your face but she was more than good with the choice you made.

    This is a beautiful and sad blog. Kinda like life some days!


  9. Oh my Tess, to early in the morning for me to be crying. Absolutely beautiful post, even if she wasn’t my sweet mother, I feel I would know what kind of person she was by reading your post. She was so excited, happy, proud and maybe even a bit envious of your trip, she loved that you were living your dream. She knew she was loved beyond measure by you and by all of us….so no regrets.

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