When you live on land and travel, you always feel that you have a home to come back to. No matter how far away you travel, you know where you will return to when the journey ends. When you liveaboard, this changes a little, as your home is floating and is easily moved from one place to another. While a boat in a slip is a permanent as a leaf on a shore, you will feel like this small patch of water that your boat floats in is home!
We lived aboard for 5 years before we set off cruising. In that time, we would sail for a day, weekend, or even month, but we always returned to our slip in Fells Point, in downtown Baltimore. When we decided to make the leap from liveaboards to cruisers, we had to make a strange decision, we had to end our slip lease.
The marina I lived in did annual slip leases starting in January, and our cast off date was in July, so it felt rather odd to sign a lease that would end in a few months with no plans on extending it. When we sailed out of the marina, we knew we were giving up our wonderful slip in the heart of our favorite neighborhood as we voyage far and away.
This was such an odd feeling, as I knew that now I had no "home" to return to. Every moment we sailed forward, we were sailing away from a place that we had called home for so many years. We had to dissociate that patch of water as home and instead recapture that sentiment towards the entire boat.
Home is where the anchor drops! As we ventured off, we still felt like we were off on a weekend sail. We were sailing through waters that we have been in almost every weekend of the year. This meant that we knew how the winds worked, and where the currents are strongest, as well as where to anchor to enjoy the best sunsets! After a few days, we got a bit restless, as we felt it was odd that we were still sailing away and not returning to our old slip. It took a little strength to subdue that thought, and it faded quickly, as did our knowledge of the date and time.
We soon transitioned from city dwellers who know what day, date, and time everything around them was happening, to cruisers who get up when the sun rises and drop anchor when the sun sets.
As we ventured south in the Chesapeake Bay, we felt like if we were seeing things for the first time, but this was not true. Two years ago, we did a month long trip where we sailed down the bay and offshore to Kitty Hawk, NC. On that trip, we were in a rush to get as far south as fast as we could. This time we are at a much more relaxed pace, enjoying the sights and scenery and drifting along without any time constraints.
While we felt it was new territory for us, we had the comfort in our mind that we had in fact sailed these waters once before. This feeling lasted for only so long, then we passed this point and continued onward!
The day we finally passed Kitty Hawk was magical. It felt like if we were birds that just flew out of a cage. Every moment was now further from home than we had ever been, even though home was always with us. Every town we anchored in would bring the same questions: Have you done this before? Is this the farthest you have ever sailed?
Practice makes perfect, and being asked these questions over and over makes you better at answering them. "Nope, everyday is the furthest we have ever been!" Is our answer of choice.
The memories of our slip and neighborhood have been fading as we have found new favorite places to relax and explore. I guess this is what you do when you feel disconnected from your "home." When we were in the bay, we knew that we could always turn towards Baltimore and reach our old port in under four days. Now, we are hundreds of miles away and returning to Baltimore would take much more than a few days! This sensation of being so far away that it would be hopelessly pointless to feel homesick helps you find new "comforts of home" wherever you are.
Every town we make landfall in, we make friends, explore the town, and find ways to make this place our new home!