As the sun set on one of our first few days back in Southwest Florida, it was easy to reminisce on the many sunsets we’d seen over that same body of water, because we used to call it home.
It has been nearly five years since we left Florida, though, and just over 12 since we moved here from Oregon. I say “here” because that’s where we are right now, and it’s kind of crazy to think all that time has gone by. Being here to visit family and friends after so many years has been a nostalgic ride, but it has also shed some light on how we got to Yahtzee and put things into perspective for the future of her crew.
While living in Florida we finished graduate and masters programs, got married, met a ton of great friends, worked at fun and challenging jobs, sailed a lot and gained a window into what we really wanted for the next steps in our life together. It took moving away from Florida to Ethiopia for the Peace Corps to re-ignite our passion for travel and new things, places and people, and from there our move to Seattle was one of the best decisions we’ve made. Six months after arriving in the Emerald City we bought Yahtzee, and another eight went by before Porter joined us aboard.
But it’s worth noting that our current lifestyle spent on the Salish Sea — cruising in our own style and pace, and racing when we get a chance — probably wouldn’t have happened without our experiences in Florida and the Caribbean.
While working for Offshore Sailing School for over five years as a sailing instructor at their branches in Florida to the Chesapeake, Bahamas and the Caribbean, I spent an average of 250 to 300 days per year sailing with countless students on a variety of sail and powerboats. Needless to say, I encountered a wide range of conditions and situations, learned a lot and had many great adventures.
During that time, Jill and I sailed together as often as possible and she also joined me to help lead flotillas throughout the Eastern Caribbean. Those trips through the Windward and Leeward Islands gave us confidence cruising as a couple and sparked the notion that we could do with it children. Also, it was a big plus not needing to own a boat, as it allowed us to figure out what we liked and didn’t like in a family cruiser.
We might not have know it at the time, but looking back at those experiences now, I realize that they prepared us to successfully cruise anywhere in the world, and at the moment, we couldn’t be any happier in the Pacific Northwest.
Returning to Florida has also allowed us to come to a few other realizations as well. One of which is that while tropical cruising will some day be in the cards for us again, it isn’t right now. Though many cruisers dream of tropical landfalls, and we often get asked the question, “when are you taking the big left turn?”, we know that the reality can oftentimes be different from the dream. Instead, we’re living our dream in the present. We’re satisfied with our past experiences in the tropics, and for the time being, we’re content to explore an area which, from Oregon to Alaska, could take a lifetime to fully discover.
We’ve also come to enjoy this trip to Florida for what it is — a vacation. While living here we never felt like we were on vacation, but now that we’re here to soak up some sun, play with our families and visit our friends, it feels a whole lot different. We like the difference and look forward to coming back again to do what we do in Florida now — vacation.
Yahtzee is calling, and we’ll be home soon to happily continue our lives cruising upon the Salish Sea. And we’ve got Florida to thank for that.