Sailors’ midnight is the new norm. We go to bed when it gets dark and rise when it gets light. Lately Ft Lauderdale has blessed us with cool evenings leading to open hatches to catch the night breeze. These cooler mornings are one of my favorite times of the day on Windancer; coffee brewed (every day by John who doesn’t even drink coffee, but gets up first) and a few minutes to simply do nothing before the chores begin.

Today, Friday, November 25, 2016, is a special day; today is our shake-out/sea trial, where we head out to sea for the day to test all the new systems we have installed and see how Windancer performs. Tools are being stowed, bikes folded up, cupboards locked to prevent things flying, hatches all closed. The 27-Step Boogie is underway – pick up, throw out or stow 27 items. The sacrificial vodka is on deck in anticipation of the first fish; we prefer not to club fish, we pour vodka in their gills to give them a peaceful, yet quick death. You can feel the difference in the crew energy – an excitement that comes when you let sailors (and fishermen) do what they love to do most.

We have been working almost non-stop for a month on all things boat – essential electrics, replacing worn out parts, buying new, sprucing up the décor and provisioning wine and food. But the work started long before our arrival in Florida.

It really started June 2009 when we left Windancer after a life-altering year at sea with family and friends. John and I looked at each other and knew in our hearts, we had to do it again. Over the past eight years we have made some very intentional decisions with our goal to return to the sea and sail around the world. Life with clear goals (and finite timelines) has a funny way of making you ‘get shit done’. We have run the gamut from the big stuff like returning to family on the West Coast to share as many birthdays, holidays and celebrations together, to the smallest of to-do’s like burning through gift cards before we leave Vancouver. We have seen the passing of major milestones – kids high school graduation and prom; competing in countless regattas, driver’s tests and licenses, first speeding tickets, university applications, move-in day at Queens. We’ve negotiated jobs and contracts with great clients who are open to expanding the definition of ‘working from home’ to mean catching Wi-Fi off a Caribbean island and writing while at sea, fingers on the keyboard, one eye on the fishing lines.

We have said good-bye countless times. To friends and family over dinners, cards and coffee. The last year was hard – saying good-bye forever to Griffen, our love hound, after 13 and a half years of utter joy; to Finn, the cat, who has found a home with a family who will shower her with more love than she knew possible. To Oma, my mom, who passed in the spring of 2016. That was hard, really hard. She travels in our hearts with us and, if you look really carefully, you’ll find little mementos around Windancer – Warm Buddy the teddy bear at my bedside; a scarf, a sweater, a toque; and D’inge-y, the new dinghy, aptly named after the woman who was strong and trustworthy and always there when you needed her most.

So, today, just days away from our departure date, we set sail into the waters off Florida. Check list in hand, the final tests. What lies ahead, what lies beneath – time will tell.

Bruce lands the first dinner

Bruce lands the first dinner

Yellow fin - dinner

Yellow fin – dinner

Shake Out Update: Windancer passed with flying colours with the exception of a few hiccups. Highlights of the day – smooth tacks and gybes, solar powering the boat and 2 fish – the small tunny we sacrificed to the fishing gods and the hard fight, 10lb yellow fin tuna that is tonight’s dinner.

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