Almost three months to the day and I am back in my van. It took some coaxing to get started and then ease out of  the narrow space next to my friends garage where it had been stored.   But  I am now parked outside of my storage unit. The propane heater is blasting a small circle of hot air onto the floor – fighting the cold air that easily finds its way in through the gaps where the sliding door doesn’t fully close. Someday I will get smart and find the time to insulate the van.  The windows are fogged from the pot of noodles I just made on the little stove top.

My van in better weather

After writing this I’ll move the van a few blocks to just outside of the boatyard, hang up my blackout curtains, and fall asleep inside two nested sleeping bags, my sailboat just a stones throw away behind the chain link fence.  If all goes well, tomorrow I’ll drive into the boat yard when they open up and start working on long delayed repairs from an unfortunate mishap in August.  September was consumed with arguing with the insurance company and attempting a journey in a much smaller sailboat,  October with visiting family and paddling in the Adirondaks,  November with sailing to Bermuda and then south to the Caribbean.

My favorite picture from sailing to the Caribbean

December was a different story.  Early in the month, I flew from Antigua to North Carolina. I spent the night awkwardly sleeping on a bench near baggage claims in the Raleigh-Durham airport, waking up at 4am when flights resumed and the PA system started warning me incessantly about being mindful of unattended luggage. I eventually took a public bus downtown where I joined a rough crowd of all-nighters at the main transfer station before making my way to the Greyhound station and then to New Bern, North Carolina.   Not exactly how the 1% travel.

My uncle John was there to pick me up. My last visit was in 2019 when I came out for some one-on-one sailing lessons. A life-long sailor, John lives in a sailing community, with his boat ‘Georgie Girl’ docked in front. Missing from the picture this time was my Aunt Georgie who passed away long battle with cancer last February.  Married for over 50 years, they shared a lot of love, including a love of sailing.

Before my visit in 2019, most of my experience had been on small single-person sailboats – but John taught me the finer points of sailing a larger keel boat on their 34 foot Tartan.  The goal with this current visit  was to get back out on Georgie Girl and sail without worries of long ocean passages or customs and immigration procedures. I hoped to pick up some finer points on sail trim from John who is also an avid racer.  Unfortunately the wind did not cooperate. My visit was only scheduled for a week and the days ticked by without the slightest breeze.

During this time, I was able to connect with friends Jason and Heather who live a a couple hours north of Uncle John and they invited us to come up and sail on my second to last day of being in North Carolina.  The forecast looked promising with some light wind.   Jason and Heather are kindred souls. I‘ve been fortunate to tromp around the Himalayas with them on two occasions, including watching them adopt ‘Kali’  (external link) in 2018- an amazing dog that latched onto our group near the outskirts of Kathmandu in 2016.

Kali and the Langtang Group in 2018

I’ve couch surfed in their apartment in Bangkok, waived them farewell as they started a 1000+ mile bike ride in Oregon on the Lewis and Clark Trail, and hiked with Heather and daughter Kai in the Washington Cascades. Joining them for a day sail on their 50ft steel sailboat was not an invitation I was going to pass up.  Kai is now 3 years old, going on six, and much more articulate and mobile when I saw her about two years ago I saw her I Washington.  Uncle John and I drove up in the early morning and we had a great day of sailing – just the right amount of wind and sun. The only thing missing was Kali who had to stay home.  But next time…

Heather raising the main sail with a little help from Kai
Under sail!


Uncle John at the Helm


Jason, Heather and Kai


The next day it rained buckets and a day later I was headed to Raleigh courtesy Uncle John, with a brief overnight to visit good friends Ewan and Kat in Chapel Hill. We shared stories about Nepal, sailing in the San Juans, ate well and laughed.

Ewan and Kat teaching me how to make Veggie Pot Pies in Chapel Hill


Ewan and Ticky Singing Together

From North Carolina, I headed to Northern New York for a repeat of what I did in October, minus the kayaking. It was simply too cold. Mostly I recovered from a mild case of the flu at my sisters house. I built a lot of fires in the woodstove, visited her pottery studio in Potsdam, spent time with our Mother who returned from a three week trip to Portugal, and did a short trip of my own to Saranac Lake to spend time with Brett – one of my oldest friends. We watched five movies over the course of two days and rang in the New Year while sound asleep. It was nice to see him and also nice to do next to nothing.


Staying warm by the fire with Rosie
Staying warm by the fire with Rosie


With Brett – we have thirty years of pictures like this. Someday I will do a time-lapse.


My puddle jumper to Boston and then onto something bigger to get to Seattle.

That about sums it up – two weeks here with the hope of staying warm, making some progress on my sailboat as well as spending time with friends.  And packing for the next adventure. Last spring I tested the waters in Cambodia with a mini paddle on the Mekong. This time I think I know what to pack, and where to go, for a longer adventure. Time will tell.


Lighthouse Storage
Anacortes, WA
Sunday evening, Jan 8th, 2024. Posted on the 9th after some edits.


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