Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance that he himself has spun...

Friday, April 25, 2014

Sailing Away

"On life's vast ocean diversely we sail,
Reason the card, but passion is the gale."
Alexander Pope

What do I miss the most about the U.S.? A trick question because when I lived there I didn't travel much in America. The farthest east I ever got was Sandpoint, Idaho (and if you live there or in Spokane and your  last name is Heath then we might be related). The farthest south was a trip to California (Disneyland). And the only foreign country I'd ever visited before I left for France was British Columbia, Canada and that didn't feel all much different from Washington State (we went up there to see family).

Better question is what do I miss about the Pacific Northwest? That is an easy one to answer: the sea. I miss living by the water.  The sound of the seagulls and the smell of salt water in the early hours of the morning. There is nothing quite like it. I also miss being out on the water. The Puget Sound region is a world of watercraft: houseboats, ferries, tugboats, big container ships, and sailboats. Some of my best memories as a young adult are about being out on the Sound in a relative's fishing boat or a friend's sailboat.   The one I remember best was a 26-foot yawl built by Bobby Allen.  Talk about passion - I used to watch him leave the office every day to go and work on it and it took him years to finish.  Her name was the Harriet Spicer and she was beautiful.   

Since I've been in France I've sailed exactly once.   I was working for the Compagnie Générale d'Entreprises Automobiles (CGEA) at the time and they had an annual sailboat race for employees in France and from abroad.  So my colleagues and I from the office in Nanterre went down to Toulon and had a fine time out there on the water in our rented sailboat and way too much wine. We lost but I did get to see one of France's aircraft carriers. 

A few days ago someone on Facebook sent me a link to a website and said, "Have a look at this, Victoria"   The site is called  Skûtsje Zonder Zorg

Meet Edi and Michael from Vancouver, British Columbia.  From 2009 to 2012, they sailed from Vancouver all the way down the coasts,  around Cape Horn and then back up the coasts on the other side.  They blogged about it (and apparently the blog was quite the sensation) and later wrote a book.

They are now in Europe travelling on the rivers and canals in a 105-year old skûtsje called the Zonder Zorg.  Their lasted post is dated April 21 and they are in France right now (Toulouse) going along the Canal du Midi and through the locks and into the city.  It's quite a tale and the photos and commentary on what they see and do as they cruise along are pure pleasure to read.  

The saddest part about it for me is that in twenty years here it has never occured to me to take a boat out on the canals. Sure, I knew it was possible but....   

Somebody give me a good slap to the side of the head.  I was wasting my time grieving over the lost waters of home and then I see  a couple of short-timers  from my part of the world taking advantage of the waters here and having a great time.  

Attitude adjustment accomplished.  

13 comments:

Christophe said...

The National Park System is one of the wonders of the US.
I hope they continue protecting and maintaining those parks. I visited quite a bit of them and loved each trip. My favorite was probably Bryce Canyon in Utah.
I can see how you miss the sea.
I like the sea, but wouldn't live next to it. I don't like the humidity. Each time we visited my grandma in the south of France in the summer, our bodies were sticky!
I miss windsurfing on the Lac de Serre-Poncon, though!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lac_de_Serre-Pon%C3%A7on

Have a great weekend.

Christophe

PS: Our plans to visit with my sister in June for my nefew's baptism might change... My son's passport expires less than 6 months after the trip, and the travel agency said they might not let him flight. I didn't know about this rule. I don't know if I want to risk it. That's a lot of money. Talk about the land of the free...

Blaze said...

Here's a blog about a woman in British Columbia who ditched her suburban Vancouver life to move to Salt Spring Island with her family to have Three Chickens And A Boat.

She has chickens, but I don't know if she has the boat yet.

Knowing your determination to raise chickens in your garden and now learning of your love for sailing, I think you and she are kindred spirits.

http://www.3chickensandaboat.com/

Jacques said...

Americans flock to Europe to take cruises on Canals in France Germany Russia ... I always assumed that Europeans did the same. Do they ?

Victoria FERAUGE said...

@Christophe, I heard about that. For some reason if a US passport is 6 months from expiring they wont' let you leave. Looks like it's due to something called the Six-Month Validity Rule http://www.swiftpassportservices.com/blog/2014/01/02/your-passport-and-the-six-month-validity-rule/

I'm with you about the south of France. That's why I prefer Brittany - looks like the Pacific Northwest. :-)

@Blaze, No boat yet but the chicken plan is in progress. We are nuts, I know, but....

I will check out the blog. Bises.

@Jacques, All I know is that in my albeit limited social circle I don't know anyone who has done it.

Christophe said...

In Brittany, the water is quite cold :-)
A long time ago, I went camping with my parents in Vendee. I loved it. Beautiful beaches. We caught seafood to eat. But I also remember that we didn't spend much time in the water :-)

My parents rented une peniche with 2 other couples for a small trip on the Rhone. They loved it and would recommend it. That's not sailing... but close.

As I mentioned, they live next to the Serre-Poncon lake - a nice place to go on vacation if you like both the mountain and water activities.

http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lac_de_Serre-Pon%C3%A7on

Ils habitant a cote d'Embrun.

Catherine said...

Their blog and travels sound like my mind of adventure. Thanks for sharing! :)

Em said...

It's fun following the adventures of world wanderers. My favourite such blog tracks Brad and Sheena and their "drive" around the world in their 1984 VW van called Nacho. Nacho sometimes has to do some sailing in a shipping container while Brad and Sheena fly ahead.
http://www.drivenachodrive.com/about-nacho/

Tim said...

The US National Park System is "nice" but the Canadian one is "nicer." Having said that their are a lot fewer Canadian National Parks than American and very few in Eastern Canada.

On the subject of Brittany I went to college with someone from Brittany who now lives in the South of France, Monaco in particular(I guess a different country) and works as the corporate treasurer for a very high end cruise line that has its HQ in Monaco. I am facebook friends with her still.

Tim said...

I was actually somewhat incorrect her family is native from the Brittany region but she actually grewup mostly in St Germain en Laye right up the road from you although I think her parents had a house in Brittany. I know because she has her school pictures on facebook.

Tim said...

Not to make too many comments but are you familiar with Crozon. That is where her family was from.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Crozon/111964635487510

Sauve said...

What I miss most is greeting the sun rise while beginning the bike ride from Albuequerque to Santa Fe, New Mexico. The smell and sounds of the hillcountry in Texas. The autumn colors of Georgia with her red clay thrown in. The warm sands of the Atlantic City Beach. Greenwich Village, NY in 1968. Haight-Ashbury in 1968. Living in Limekiln Canyon on the California Coast in the spring and summer of 68. The stars at night seen from the Texas hill country. Finally, my children and their families. Everything though is nostalgia. Yes, even my children. They are not children anymore. I love them still but they have built lives without me so when I arrive I am more an inconvenience than anything else.

LarryC said...

I'm originally from Pittsburgh, and for now live in Everett. Spent 11 yrs in Portland, OR - but the region/people/economy rejected me as though I was some kind of foreign body. Returned to Seattle until I make my migration to France.

On occasion I miss Pike Place Market, killer cheese steak sandwiches at Greater Pitt Airport, coffee and people at Denver Airport, gorgeous views of the Rockies, spring mornings in Indianapolis, and hiking at Sunrise Meadows up at Mt Rainier in August.

Looking back on all of this - to me, a place is only a place. What makes a place worth remembering is different for each. As well, I'm not the norm for an American; I have very strong wanderlust. I'm most comfortable in foreign settings where I am required to learn and adapt, whereas in America I quickly become bored and unmotivated because "the good life" is too easily within reach.

With a world full of opportunities, I can certainly envision missing some things about America. Taking your prompt in an earlier blog, I bought a small copy of “Man Without a Country.” There are many analyses about the story and meaning. But what does the story mean to each of us? Would I regret leaving? Non, I doubt it.

The extreme example offered to us through Philip Nolan is one where a power larger than himself enforces the final decision. Each of us can choose to turn the other way – at least we still have some safe harbor to drop anchor though living in another country.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

@Christophe, In Brittany the water is FREEZING. Just like Seattle. :-)

But it's a great place to go windsurfing. My in-law's summer hour is near Concarneau and it is pretty.

I will check out that lake. I'm also still thinking about heading for Madamee G's hot springs in Auvergne.

@Catherine, I thought it was one hell of an adventure too. Plus I lvoe the way they can kind of go at their own pace.

@Em, Oh thank you for the link. I will check it out today.

@Tim, I don't know Crozon but I had a look at the map and it's not that far from the in-law's house. Same department - la Finistere. Find Quimper on the map and then got south to the coast and then east.

@Sauve, Ah that's a nice colleciton of memories. That made me remember the early 1970's in Olympia and the Nanny Noodles hippy day care center and the smell of wet foggy air, the goats and the fire going in the wood stove. Maybe that's why I was so happy to get my woodstove...

@Larry, Welcome to the Flophouse! And thank you for the comment. I remember Everett. Just for fun sounds like you might enjoy this post:

Casting Errors http://thefranco-americanflophouse.blogspot.fr/2011/07/casting-errors.html

The Man without a Country. Now that is an interesting piece of work. It used to be required reading in American schools but I think it's not any longer.

It was written after the Civil War for one purpose but over the years it served I think to shape Americans feeling about their citizenship. When I read some of the comments from people in the US about those renouncing US citizenship the "you'll be sorry" and "you will regret" and so on these remarks sound a lot like the ghost of Hale. Still thinking about a post on this but something about that work stuck in people's minds and I think their reactions to expatriations were formed in some way by what Hale wrote.