I have been dealing with mixed feelings since I knew that we were going back on land. From that moment, I went through:
- a kind of mourning for 3 months after we took the decision to stop
- planning our “back to land” for 2 weeks
- “liveaboard life farewell, with family and friends” for 2 weeks
- preparing the boat for the winter for a week
- installation back home for a couple of weeks
After a month on land, we are still sea nostalgic. During the first month, kids were super happy to be back home and see their old friends again. This week, for the first time, they start to realise that the experience was not so bad after all. We got our land legs back and we are very enthusiastic in becoming digital nomads and go back at sea some day.
Why did we decide to go back to land?
In December 2017, we wanted to keep sailing for a year and do the Atlantic crossing in December 2018. So we prepared the boat for it. In April, we changed our mind, we love being liveaboards, travelling and sailing but we knew that if we kept sailing for another year we were going to spend most of our savings and we would need to sell the boat and go back to the “rat race”, without any other option. In parallel, not everyone was enjoying sailing: one of the kids had enough when we arrived back to Sardinia and wanted to be back on land in June. We love the sea and living on the sea, we do not want our kids to hate the sea. They enjoyed those 16 months, so it was time for a break.
So, we decided to go for a break, put the kids back at school and get ready to sail, travel and get incomes.
Managing my own feelings
Even though I knew that it was the best for all of us, I was disappointed and angry. I did not want to write about it and it was difficult to write about other things. I was going through a lack of inspiration. I found myself crying during the night watches because I was going to miss the life that we were having, the sea, the family intimacy and complicity, travelling and making new friends, only caring about meaningful things for us.
I went through it and accepted the situation (since it was best for everyone), and after a 3 month mourning I focused all my energy to make the process easy for everyone, instead of thinking how difficult the transition was going to be.
From the sea to the land
We wanted to be in our old/new home at least a few days before kids were supposed to go back to school (early September). We left Greece by the end of July. The weather was not the best one to sail: wind was very light and we had to motor a lot. At this moment, you realise how good is has been not to have any time constraint for 16 months.
We sailed from Corfu (Greece) to Riposto (Sicily), where we stopped for one day and night to visit Taormina and the Etna. We hesitated to stop there (on one hand the price of the marina, on the other the fuel we needed before Messina going through strait…), but I am glad we did! Riposto marina is very expensive, but it is really one of the few comfortable marinas close to the strait. An alternative is to anchor in Taormina bay – just plan your crossing of the strait so that you don’t have to stop in Messina or in front.
We then waited for a weather window to pass Messina strait. Like most strait, it is easier to pass with the wind pushing ; for the tides, there is an app for that (“Stretto Messina” in both application stores). The app is quite good (based on scientific work), even though you cannot be really sure what timezone it is referring to (is it your phone’s timezone, Roma’s timezone, or UTC timezone?) – we did several tests, comparing the phone (on Roma’s timezone) with the computer (on UTC timezone) and results were difficult to understand. Or maybe we were just lost in time 🙂
From Messina we went to the Eolian Island again ; we had missed Vulcano island last year and everyone told us that it was worth climbing up the the volcano. We did it and it was great!
Sea life farewell with family and friends
From Vulcano island, we sailed directly to Porto-Pollo (West Corsica), in a very low wind crossing, we motored half of the time. We were happy to be back in Corsica (we had been sailing for 4 summers around Corsica and Pierre sailed there with his family during all his childhood). We spent a week on anchor, our family came to visit ; it was great to see the family and kids were happy to play in french again (last time was over a year ago!). I was feeling weird being back in France again. I found everything extremely expensive and I was literally dizzy with the people – most probably because of the last passage fatigue and my owns feelings were making me feel very tired. Pierre also felt strange about being in Corsica after all this time away – this moment of the trip was not the best ; the angle you see things after being away for a long time is different, and at that time we knew very well we were getting closer to the end of our journey.
After a week in Corsica, we crossed to Hyères, where we visited more friends. One close friend came on board to spend some days with us ; we then realised how the kids had grown up and how fast time had passed by.
Preparing the boat for a sailing break
It took us roughly 7 days to prepare the boat for the winter and move to our land home. We cleaned everything in the boat, remove all sails, lines, canvas, … everything ; this winter the mast will be un-stepped. All remaining food (a few cans, gofio from the Canary islands) and drinks (beer from Madeira, Sardinia and Greece, rhum from the Canary islands, a fabulous Scottish whisky from Islay that amazingly survived the trip) was then packed, to feed the nostalgia back home.
We rented a car and I drove 5 hours to get some of the stuff to the apartment while Pierre was doing the haul out with the kids. I drove 5 hours back to pick up the family… and so we all arrived on time to start school again!
It’s now been more than a month since we are back sleeping in non-moving beds. The kids transitioned immediately from one life to the another, it took a while for Pierre and I, we were happy to be on land but nostalgic of the sea. Now we are happy to be on land, we are lucky that we live in a very green area where we can still enjoy the nature.
We gave us a few weeks to rest from all of this and we are now working hard to figure out our future. If you go for a break from sailing, I would recommend to take some time to digest all the trip before going back to work. I cannot imagine how it would have been if I went back to work immediately after coming back…