Friday, March 22, 2013

We Make This Journey Together

A lot has changed since I started this blog two and a half years ago.  My original motivation for writing about our cruising life was simple: reassure the grandparents.  And I wasn’t always successful.  It never really occurred to me that anyone I wasn’t related to would ever be interested in our broken fingers and broken masts, our sealion bites and four-legged pests, or riding around in a Colombian police van.  Twice.

But new people came, and new people stayed.  The blog grew, SAILfeed invited me to join their site, and here I am.  And here you are.  And we are sharing this now.

Musician Amanda Palmer recently gave a wonderful speech over at TED Talks, wherein she talked about making a human connection through her art.  And while, unlike the fearless Amanda, I don’t think I’m ready to sleep on your couch, I do understand what she means.  In the early days of my blog, I was personally acquainted with everyone who was reading it.  We had that connection.  And I would like to get some of that back.

In days gone by, this blog would have been a newspaper column.  You would have read about me trying to bake birthday cakes on a desert island as you drank your morning coffee, and hopefully your sticky-child-decorated kitchen would have felt a little more comfortable to you.  But there would have been a distance between us - I would have been writing at you.  Now, because this is a blog, we have the opportunity to talk to each other.  Every post, both on the original site and on SAILfeed, has a comments section, and I hereby invite you, dear reader, to use it.  This isn’t me alone – you are all out there, too.

I know because I get lovely emails.  From people who dream of cruising.  From people who just plain love boats.  From people who wouldn’t leave land if you paid them, but like funny stories about harried moms.  You write to me, and I delight in responding to each note.  We hold eye contact for those brief moments.  But you should meet each other, too.  And I want to hear more.

What are you interested in?  What brought you by?  Did you also marry a man who waited for you to leave the house one day, then shut off the water and disconnected all of the pipes in the bathroom without a word of warning?  Tell me I’m not the only one.
This is not to say I want the compliments to stop; someday I may have to collect those emails into a folder and try to pay my bills in love instead of cash.  But we have the chance to be a community, and I think we should take it.  You will never mistake this column for a place of grave introspection and serious analysis.  This is a place where kids fly over the boom like Wonder Woman, where husbands commandeer the cockpit for fibreglass work, and where we laugh about it all.  Because cruising is fun, and funny, and I love it.

Consider this your formal welcome to the world of Sailing Papillon.  Don’t leave me hanging here, people.  Please, join in.
We're all friends here.


Paul in Iowa said...

Hello Papillon (on the hard) crew. Thanks for the invite to share more. Most every morning, when I am not swamped with airplane work in the shop, I check your blog to see what is new. (I keep hoping to hear of plans to get the keel wet again!) And today I was surprised to see the date of Saturday, March 23 when it is only Friday morning! Oh yeah, you are on the other side of the date line and we are at the end of the world's day! Funny to me.
I am an airplane mechanic mainly, but I also am the manager at our town's small airport so I get a lot of variety of work to do, which is good for me as I desire lots of variety. Being the airport manager, we actually live at the airport, which I guess a lot of people think is kind of cool, but like most things, when you are the one doing it, it seems kind of normal. We have lived here 16 years and our 19 year old son has always taken pride in living at the airport. Initially, it was kind of cool that the bus picked him up here! Fun for him. My 15 year old daugher on the other hand would rather live in town to be around more girls, but she is learning to like the country life.
It is finally warming up here a bit again, so more people flying which means more people needing service and maintenance, which is good for us business-wise; it has been a very lean winter. Tomorrow I plan to start garden seeds in cups as I am confident Spring will really come soon. I suppose it is hard to grow plants when living aboard, I would like to try that sometime. At least some tomato & peppers!

Tamara said...

Oh Amy, this post makes me love you even more. Fabulous! Yes, we are all connected and could be even more connected if we are open to one another.

As Amy and Erik know, I live in St. Catharines, part of the Niagara region on the Canadian side of the border (You did know that we left Toronto right? We moved at roughly the same time you bought a boat...must have been something in the water.)

I used to sit beside Erik at work. He would tackle fancy projects that involved risk and intrigue, while I optimized meat production in US grocery stores. He worked with smart people who valued his opinion. I worked with flank steak. Perhaps it's not surprising that McKinsey still values his contributions, long after I was forgotten.

Today I have 2 children, a wonderful husband who works as a family physician, and part-time work that I absolutely love. Though no part of me is interested in spending more than a sunny afternoon on a boat, I admire the Papillon crew immensely and have read each and every post since the adventure began.

Much love to all!

Mary said...

Hi Pappillion Crew!
We are soon-to-be cruisers, moving aboard in May and setting sail from Duluth, MN, USA. We will sail out through the Great Lakes, bound for Australia. I found your blog through Del Viento. Being in the last weeks of prep, with 2 full time jobs, 3 kids,, trying to extricate from land life... My brains are mush and I can't say much more. I enjoy your blog!
S/V Sea Change

Anonymous said...

I think that as one of the grandparents I must follow your adventures most closely. It has given me an opportunity (with Dad on occasion) to visit you in places that I had only dreamed about.

You have proven that the world is indeed small, the people wonderful & the situations that you find yourself in are often what we all can relate to.

Great Grandma proudly passes out your printed out blogs to all her friends at the Institute & declares that she has a published Granddaughter who is traveling the world with her husband & great grandchildren in a 60 foot sailboat of all things: Top that she seems to say!
Love Mom

Kate said...

Good Morning Amy,

Great to hear from your other readers.


Deb said...


We, too, are in the final stages of our 5-year plan to go full-time cruising. I have a list of blogs in my Reader that I follow for various reasons. Some because they have a similar boat, some because the people have similar personalities to ours, some because their technical assistance is invaluable in our boat preparation. Some, like yours, I follow because I like the writing. You have a wonderful sense of humor which I believe to be the one key to cruising success. Thanks for your willingness to open the window to your personal experiences. Even requesting comments, you will likely never know the impact on those that read, but your deposits into John Vigor's "Black Box" will not go unnoticed.

S/V Kintala

Papillon crew said...

You see? I go away for a day or two, and things pile up. Thank you all for taking up the challenge!

@Paul: Yes, I miss growing food. Some people do it aboard, but you risk losing all of your plants as you change countries, and no one wants to be responsible for introduced species. So my fresh basil and tomato dreams will have to wait.

@Tamara: St. Catherines? I didn't know that. The things I miss. And hooray for part-time work. I am going to be willing to do without a lot of things when we return to land if I can only manage that.

@Mary: Best of luck! I hope you and your family have a wonderful experience on the water. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

@Mom: We always love to have you aboard. I think you hit most of our favourite places.

@Kate: Good morning!

@Deb: Erik and I laughed when we read your comment. I am glad that, even though I offer no practical content, you still enjoy reading. :) Humour is as necessary to a sailor as any other skill. To paraphrase Red Green, if I can't be handsome, I can at least be handy.

Brandon Ford said...

Hi Amy,

I just found your blog and enjoy it very much. I really enjoy the stuff about your kids and can relate, even though my three kids are in their thirties.

My wife and I are completely rebuilding our 1971 Columbia 43. We plan on moving aboard and cruising full time next year. I blog about our efforts at

I've looked around your blog, but I can't find much about your boat. Is it a Columbia 57? Sorry, but I'm a real boat nut and need to know.

I look forward to your next post.

Brandon and Virginia Ford
SV Oceanus, Newport, Oregon

Papillon crew said...

@Brandon: Papillon is a 1966 custom yawl in aluminum, designed by Bill Tripp Sr. Tripp designed the Columbia 57 in 1968, I believe, and so there is no question why you see the similarities. It was one of the earliest center cockpit designs, I’m told. It was designed as a Great Lakes racer, and was converted to a cruising vessel in the 1970s. It spent most of its life in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, but we have her in the Pacific now.

I am getting more and more boat-description questions; I will try to get Erik help me put up a page about Papillon for all of the monohull-lovers out there.

The Lawsons said...

Hi Amy,
We also found your blog via Del Viento. We currently live in India, but after one more year here, we will be moving aboard our Valiant 40, Momo, and heading south from New England. We have two little girls as well (1 and 4).
We love your writing - it gives us plenty to dream of during the long days we spend here very far from the coast. If your interested, we write about our adventures at
The Lawsons

Amy Schaefer said...

@Lawsons: Welcome! I see your daughter came by the same chin injury as Stylish did last year. Boy are we tired of stitches. Best of luck with your preparations - you are going to have a great time.

Anonymous said...

Hi Amy and Papillon crew!
I had been following Totem and their crew for a couple months when they got added to the SAIL forum, so I found your blog. I really enjoy it, dont tell anyone but i think its the best "cruising family" blog out there! It's nice to know I'm not the only one who wants to take their family cruising, glad I'm not crazy! I'm getting caught up on your archives, thought i would post this here in response to your gracious invite.


Amy Schaefer said...

Aww, Andy. That's so nice of you to say. Welcome to Sailing Papillon; I hope you continue to enjoy it.