So long, and thanks for all the fish

May 18, 2022

Reading time: 8 minutes

I can never resist stealing that line from Douglas Adams. It’s just so good.

A few people said to me when I was mulling out loud about the future of our blog and social media feeds, that I’d know what to do when the time came. You were right. Thank you.

I had thought I would be keeping you up to date through the process of moving home. Through settling back into land life. Coping with my ADHD diagnosis. Buying and maybe renovating a new home…

I still want to write about some of these things. But, what feels really clear to me now, is that this isn’t the place. Ultimately, this was created as a way of sharing our sailing journey. Now that that journey is over, I feel less and less connected with this platform every day.

I’ll try to explain why.

Filling in the gaps

The last time I wrote we were in St Georges, Grenada. Cohabiting with a stranger. Sad to be leaving Mirounga but eager to disembark. Everything was transitional.

I thought that transitional feeling would last for weeks, and months even.

We did have a period in flux. We had a few nights in an Airbnb where I could catch up with laundry and Colin could help Rai with any further boat jobs.

I really expected, in that time, that I would find myself back on Mirounga. Looking at her.

I never did. The day we took our luggage off and took a taxi to the Airbnb was the last time I saw her. And that, to me, is okay. My brain has done this before. It instantly adapts and closes the door. I become content with memories and photographs, I don’t need more.

Our last 5 nights in the Caribbean were spent at the True Blue Bay Resort. It was perfect. We had lots of space to relax in our Tower Suite, and lots of friendly resident cats to feed tuna. Yes, I was bored. We decided purposefully not to spend money or load ourselves down with activity, so we did very little. I sat by the pool reading, Colin lay in the shade of our deck. We saw ana amazing solar corona. We ate at the Container Park and did very little else. It was a good break from existence.

The journey home was uneventful, beyond the excitement of being reunited with my brother and his girlfriend, and my dad. And coming home just felt… natural.

Kelso life

A week ago, we collected our cat Schrödinger from her loving foster parents. After 24 hours, she was back to sleeping in Colin’s arms. Every day, a new habit or behaviour comes back, and we’re truly forgiven at this point.

We’ve unpacked and rearranged our temporary home to our liking. We joined dad at the local monthly wine club. We both had trips to Edinburgh for appointments and errands. I’ve had such a raft of hair and beauty appointments that I feel like I’ve sloughed off not just a year’s worth of sea salt, but 3.5 years of stress and grieving. Colin’s brother and his wife joined us and dad for a Eurovision party, and a good country walk the next day. Colin is back to work, and I’m keeping busy with projects while I wait for a start date.

If it weren’t for the photos in Timehop, keeping up with sailing friends, and our fading tans, it would feel like the last 14 months didn’t happen. It’s a hazy, distant memory. Being here doesn’t feel wrong, dull, or cold. It feels right. Except for wearing shoes. That still feels very wrong.

Even though it feels like we’ve been here forever, I’m not missing boat life or the Caribbean. Not yet anyway.

Fresh eyes

The thing is. I’m different. We’re different.

Some of this is my ADHD diagnosis, and the medication I’ve been taking for a week. But some of it isn’t.

Our year of sailing taught us so many practical skills. It showed us what we’re capable of. It brought so many new people and perspectives to us. We got to experience being a minority. Living in a different culture. Not speaking the local language. It gave me the headspace to see what I value in life. It also helped me to see where I need help. I feel like we’re both braver and stronger. We value each other more. I can’t put words into Colin’s mouth, but I know I love him more. I’m better at saying what I need, and he’s better at helping. We’re more patient and more appreciative of what the other does in the relationship.

When we left life…

Really, we left our old lives in November 2018. The month my mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer and we saw our friend Heather for the last time before she was taken by the same cruelty just a few weeks later. Life became death, cancer, recovery, death, recovery… We were stitching ourselves together between traumas.

We were ready to wipe the slate clean with a new start when people started to talk about this new virus in China… We are still so lucky. That we could use Covid to get closer to friends. That we could have time living with and working on a project with my dad. That we didn’t lose anyone in that time. That we could escape year two of Covid and spend some of the worst times in the most beautiful places. With the most wonderful people.

I’m only just starting to realise how much that break from reality helped to heal the final cracks in my heart.

Coming back to Scotland doesn’t feel like going back to our old life to me. It feels like a fresh start, because we are different people.

My own voice

The thing about this blog is that it isn’t all mine. I write it. The photos are mine. I say what I want. But it also belongs to Colin, and to Mirounga.

I’m ready to speak in my own voice.

My diagnosis and the early success with medication have added to what was already going to be an introspective time. Finally feeling recovered from the trauma of the years before we lived aboard. Processing turning 40. Making the decision to go back to my old career when I thought I’d walked away from one of the best things in my life. The world opening up and lockdowns ending.

I want to write without linking it back to our time sailing. It’s not that I don’t treasure that time, it’s just that my life feels like so much more than that one year we did that thing.

Sailing Mirounga is setting sail into the sunset. Thanks for buddy boating with us.


P.S. You’re leaving it there?! Don’t worry…

If you want to stay with me, with us, here’s how.

I’ll be writing on Medium, you’ll find me as @ailsabm. My first blog is here.

And you can find me and Colin both as our normal, unfiltered, cat-obsessed selves on Instagram.