by Jan Caldwell  (bj's mom)


"I wish I were with you, sharing the laughter and domestic doings of what I have come to think of as my second home. All of it was good, in every sense of the word. And in this life, nothing good is lost. It stays part of a person, becomes part of their character. So part of you goes everywhere with me. And part of me is yours forever."

- "The Shell Seekers"

We have had an idealistic, lazy, exciting, sometimes very scary life for the past few years, and have experienced more in this short time than some experience in a whole lifetime. I hate to give it up even for a little while. We have been so lucky to have been able to live our dream and I can't even put into words the faces, places, smiles, sunsets, friendships, unbelievable highs and sometime even, you can believe it, very low, lows.

Overpowering, sweet fragrant scents that drift from a distant island out to sea to greet your arrival. White sand beaches so bright and soft, the texture of flour, gifts of love, flowers, food, treasures from a serene and happy people, content in their day-to-day life, so simple by our standards.

How can I willingly give this up so soon? We've only just begun; so many more water logged miles to cross. Passages, three hours on and off, sleepily scanning the horizon for huge ships that, basking with confidence, could smash our little home. Passages, eating funny, sleeping funny, watching the miles click off, bored, impatiently waiting for it to be over. Lonely night watches, thoughts drifting to home, family, remembered things of times long ago and not so long ago, not wanting it to see another light at night but looking so hard, trying to focus tired eyes.

Finally, as the passage is almost complete, not wanting it to be over, having enjoyed the complete solitude of being totally alone at sea. Coming to grips with that sea, loving it, respecting it, fearing its unpredictable nature. Worrying about cyclones that also threaten to destroy our volatile little shell of a home.

A new found, unexpected joy in an unpretentious life. Trying hard to grow up and act like a big girl by learning to live with your family twenty-four hours a day, every day, while maintaining your sense of humor on a thirty-two foot boat.

Realizing that your best friend is also your husband. Respecting, and having complete faith in his ability to get us in safely. Being truly amazed at his skill in dealing with day to day problems of keeping everything on board in working order.

Being here in a most beautiful, exotic place, described as having "fantastic cocaine-white beaches". Still largely untouched, stunningly beautiful, a tropical paradise of the first degree. Talcum powder soft beaches, gentle turquoise waters, towering Norfolk pines contrast with curving palms, gum trees, ferns, wild orchards and other flowers to create an environment of exotic richness. Wild, free, green and red parrots, darting through the sky, screeching their disapproval at our intrusion. Not having to share a secluded beach with anyone else, the gift of the sun on our bodies.

Not even tiring of doing laundry by hand - in a rushing waterfall with small, tame fish nibbling at my feet. Standing hip deep in a fresh water stream in Wallis Island, with a local lady bathing nearby, another beating her laundry, showing me the proper way it is done, no common language being spoken, their little bit of English and my small bit of French, but being able to communicate anyway, with eyes, hands, gestures.

In the same village, a very poor, somewhat dirty, young, unwed mother, putting flower leis around our necks, she had made herself, giving her a pareo from Hawai`i, she is standing there every time we come to shore to greet us with her small baby on her hip, so curious about us and our life, watching her slowly walking every day to the stream to get fresh drinking water, then gathering wood for her cooking fire.

Taking her to our boat, she in turn taking us shelling. Then a beautiful, dark little girl, whose name escapes me, but her face never will, so shy, with an ever present smile - How can I leave this sometimes primitive life, I found so late and have come to love?

Every Christmas, being lonely, homesick, not being able to find things I crave - a turkey, cranberry sauce, thinking of walking into a "real" market and cooking up a real feast!

So, tomorrow is Brian Jr's birthday, 13, where did my little boy go? Having had the opportunity of watching him grow from a small boy, to a capable sailor, so anxious to always hoist the anchor and see a new port. Having taken him through four years of his education, with many doubts on my part at the beginning, but realizing early on, it was to be a true bonus of cruising.

Christmas, only nine days away, thinking of family, holiday shopping, Christmas music, crowds and all the mad rush...

Having given BJ the best present of all, the world.

We may be headed back, but a sadder thought of never having come. These are all thoughts of going back, which most cruisers must deal with at some point in time".

- jan caldwell

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Last Modified: Saturday - 19990515.09:11 HST